Grand View Child Development Center is a daycare center in Des Moines. To participate in CACFP, a center must possess a certification of registration from the Iowa Department of Human Services, and must sign an agreement that provides for the terms and conditions of program participation. CACFP is a program created by the Agricultural Risk Protection Act, 42 U.S.C. ? 1766. The regulations are located at 7 CFR Part 226. The regulations at 7 CFR ? 226.6 enumerate reasons why a center may be terminated from CACFP. The Bureau believes that the Center lacks financial viability because it habitually received CACFP funds from the Bureau but did not pay the same to its food vendors in a timely manner. In January of 2013, the Center cut its ties with Hy-Vee as its prepared foods vendor and hired a cook. Then in November of 2013, the Center parted ways with its cook and entered into an agreement with DMPS for the provision of prepared foods. None of these transactions are reflected in the minutes for 2013.
Ms. Patterson, Center Director, acknowledged in her testimony that in 2013 when the Center was struggling financially, she used CACFP funds for purposes other than purposes related to the food program. She also pointed out that improvements have been made to how the Center implements CACFP. One consistent theme that marked the testimony of Ms. Patterson was the fact that she had quite a few personal health issues involving the need for surgery in the last couple of years. She explained that the surgeries distracted her from many of the fine details regarding the Center's implementation of CACFP.In December 2012, Ms. Patterson and Linda Dodson signed an affidavit, asserting their understanding of the gravity of the accountability and oversight responsibilities. Their actions in 2013 demonstrate that both women viewed the sworn affidavit to be nothing more than a piece of paper they had to sign to get the Center back in the good graces of the Bureau. The cut-and-paste nature of the second quarter minutes is particularly aggravating.
None of the minutes clearly reflect that the board was informed of any adverse action being taken against the Center by the Bureau. All four sets of minutes vaguely state that "CACFP recap was reviewed," and the fourth quarter minutes state, "We have a CACFP review scheduled in January. Sara Patterson has been reviewing the monthly files, to insure that we are in compliance." The Bureau complied with the requirement in 7 CFR ? 226.6(c)(3)(iii) that it notify the board chairperson of serious deficiency determinations and proposed terminations. All of those letters from the Bureau were addressed to Ms. Dodson as well as to Ms. Patterson. In light of the notification from the Bureau, it is particularly egregious that the board apparently did not discuss the proposed termination.
The substance of the minutes demonstrates that the board directed nothing and oversaw nothing. Ms. Patterson stated time and again that her health issues caused several of the lapses, but that only serves to show how completely the Center's operations are a "one woman show." Given Ms. Patterson's health challenges and the Center's problems with the Bureau, the board of directors should have been having multiple robust conversations about its CACFP operations. Instead, there is nothing in the minutes but pro forma statements clearly meant to swat away the allegations of the serious deficiencies of lack of accountability and lack of oversight.
The federal regulation provides, "If [the Bureau] later determines that the serious deficiency(ies) has recurred, [the Bureau] will move immediately to issue a notice of intent to terminate and disqualify the institution" without giving the center another opportunity to implement corrective action. This is what occurred here.
The termination of Grand View Child Development Center from the Child and Adult Care Food Program is hereby ordered. The disqualifications of Sara Patterson and Linda Dodson from the Child and Adult Care Food Program are also hereby ordered.