Cheryl Hill ran a child daycare home in Des Moines and began her participation in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) in 2002. CACFP is a program created by the Agricultural Risk Protection Act. That Act and its regulations dictate the terms of the participation agreement between the sponsor and the provider. The CACFP program provides reimbursement for meals and snacks provided by providers to children in daycare homes and centers. A CACFP provider is required to keep contemporaneous detailed, accurate records of the provider's menus, as well as of the attendance and meals/snacks served to each individual child in the care of the provider.
The participation of providers in CACFP is supervised by a sponsor, in this case Polk County Community Family & Youth. To participate in CACFP in Iowa, the provider 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. In addition to the recordkeeping requirement, providers must agree to allow unannounced reviews of their operations. The regulations at 7 CFR ? 226.16 enumerate reasons why a daycare home provider may be terminated from CACFP. Being cited as "seriously deficient" and not correcting the deficiency is one cause for termination. A serious deficiency includes the provider's failure to maintain records. 7 CFR ? 226.16(e).
Polk County Community Family & Youth was correct to immediately move to terminate Ms. Hill's agreement and disqualify her from the CACFP program as of March 1, 2015. Ms. Hill successfully corrected her first serious deficiency, allowing the sponsor to reinstate her to the CACFP. However, the evidence presented supports a finding that Ms. Hill has not fully or permanently corrected the deficiency of failing to maintain records.
The evidence also supports a finding that such failure is systemic and not a one-time human error. Ms. Hill had repeatedly been put on notice regarding the importance of keeping required records. There was no indication that she was ill to the point that she had to close her daycare. The sponsor has shown that Ms. Hill has not fully and permanently corrected the seriously deficient practice of failure to maintain records.
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 provider is required to be accountable to the public for how s/he operates. When such accountability is lacking, the public trust is gone, and the sponsor is required to take appropriate action. Put another way, the sponsor has a duty, no matter how unpleasant at times that duty may be, to hold its providers accountable on behalf of the public.
The termination of Cheryl Hill from the Child and Adult Care Food Program is hereby ordered.