Bear Basics Children's Centers runs three daycare sites in the Des Moines area, and participates in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), which is administered by the United States Department of Agriculture through the Iowa Department of Education's Bureau of Nutrition Programs. CACPF provides reimbursement for meals and snacks served to children in daycare homes and centers. Centers are permitted to participate in CACFP either as independent centers or under the auspices of a non-profit sponsoring organization. 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. The terms and conditions are based on federal requirements found in 7 CFR Part 226. There are three overarching performance standards under which all terms and conditions fall.
When a center violates a term or condition of CACFP participation, the violation is known as a serious deficiency. With an exception pertinent to this appeal, unless a serious deficiency poses a threat to the health or safety of participating children or the public, a center must be given the opportunity to correct serious deficiencies. Centers document their remedial actions in a corrective action plan. Failure to take corrective action to fully and permanently correct the serious deficiency/deficiencies within the allowed time period will result in proposed termination. 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. Being cited as "seriously deficient" and not correcting the deficiency is one cause for termination. Serious deficiencies include failure to perform any financial or administrative responsibilities.
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 regulations governing CACFP are quite strict, purposefully so. While a termination from CACFP may seem harsh, the rationale for the strictness of the regulations is simple. CACFP is funded by public monies; therefore, a center is required to be accountable to the public for how it operates. When such accountability is lacking, the public trust is gone, and the Bureau is required to take appropriate action.
Put another way, the US Department of Agriculture imposes a duty, no matter how unpleasant at times that duty may be, on states to hold centers accountable on behalf of the public. Bear Basics has over a decade of involvement with CACFP; there are no excuses for the continuing deficiencies. Between 2006 and 2013, documents show that the Bureau attempted to work with Bear Basics as the Center kept repeating serious deficiencies. It truly would be a breach of the public's trust to allow Bear Basics to continue to participate in CACFP. The Bureau has shown by a preponderance of the evidence that Bear Basics has failed to permanently and fully correct the serious deficiencies of failure to conduct proper monitoring reviews, failure to perform accurate meal counts, and failure to provide orientation to new staff prior to assuming CACFP duties.
The termination of Bear Basics Children's Centers from the Child and Adult Care Food Program is hereby ordered. The disqualification of Elizabeth (Betty) Bolin from the Child and Adult Care Food Program is also hereby ordered.