Does Your Program Qualify for Child Care Food Program - post

Does Your Program Qualify for Child Care Food Program

image in article Does Your Program Qualify for Child Care Food Program The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) is a federal program in the United States that provides financial assistance to child care providers, schools, and other organizations offering nutritious meals and snacks to eligible children and adults in their care. Administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), CACFP plays a crucial role in promoting the #health-and well-being of individuals in child care settings, adult day care centers, after-school programs, and #emergency shelters.

Key features of the Child and Adult Care Food Program include:

Financial Assistance:

  • CACFP offers cash reimbursements to participating childcare providers and organizations to help offset the costs associated with serving nutritious meals and snacks. These reimbursements are based on the number of eligible meals served and comply with established nutrition standards.

Nutrition Standards:

  • CACFP emphasizes the provision of well-balanced and nutritious meals. Participating providers must adhere to specific nutrition standards, ensuring that meals include appropriate servings of fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins, and dairy. This focus on nutrition aims to promote #healthy-eating habits from an early age.

Eligible Participants:

  • CACFP serves various settings, including child care centers, family child care #homes, Head Start programs, after-school programs, adult day care centers, and emergency shelters. Eligible participants in these programs receive nutritious meals through CACFP.

Support for Low-Income Individuals:

  • CACFP targets programs that primarily serve children and adults from low-income households. By providing financial assistance, the program helps ensure that vulnerable populations have access to nutritious meals, supporting their overall #health-and #development.

State Administration:

  • While CACFP is a federal program, it is administered at the state level. State agencies, often within the Department of Education or a similar department, oversee the implementation of CACFP. These agencies establish guidelines, provide training, and monitor participating providers to ensure compliance.

Recordkeeping and Reporting:

  • Participating providers are required to maintain accurate records of meals served, #attendance, and other relevant information. Regular reporting is necessary to demonstrate program compliance and eligibility for reimbursements.

Training and Technical Assistance:

  • CACFP offers training and technical assistance to help providers understand and meet program requirements. This includes guidance on nutrition education, #menu-planning, and best practices for promoting a healthy food environment.

Community Impact:

  • By supporting child care providers and organizations, CACFP contributes to the overall well-being of communities. Access to nutritious meals fosters healthy development, enhances learning outcomes, and addresses food insecurity issues among vulnerable populations.

Overall, the Child and Adult Care Food Program plays a vital role in ensuring that children and adults in various care settings receive the nutrition they need for optimal growth, development, and overall well-being. It aligns with the broader goals of promoting health, preventing hunger, and supporting the educational and #developmental needs of individuals in child care and adult care settings.

Maryland Child Care CACFP Participation:

Participating in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) in the state of Maryland involves several steps. Here's a guide to help child care programs in Maryland navigate the process:

Review Eligibility Criteria:

  • Ensure that your child care program meets the eligibility criteria for participation in CACFP. Typically, eligible entities include child care centers, family child care homes, Head Start programs, after-school programs, and emergency shelters that provide nonresidential care.

Contact the Maryland State Agency:

  • Reach out to the Maryland State Department of Education’s (MSDE) School and Community Nutrition Programs Branch, which administers CACFP in the state. You can contact them by phone or visit their official website for detailed information about the program and application procedures.
    • MSDE's School and Community Nutrition Programs Branch: 410-767-0214

Attend Training or Orientation Sessions:

  • Participate in any required training or orientation sessions provided by MSDE. These sessions will familiarize you with CACFP regulations, guidelines, and the application process. Training may cover #menu-planning, nutrition standards, recordkeeping, and other program requirements.

Request and Complete Application Materials:

  • Obtain the CACFP application materials from MSDE. You can typically request these materials by contacting the MSDE's School and Community Nutrition Programs Branch directly. Complete the application form with accurate information about your child care program.

Develop a Menu that Meets Nutrition Standards:

  • Design a menu that aligns with CACFP nutrition standards. Ensure that your meals include appropriate servings of fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins, and dairy. Familiarize yourself with the meal pattern requirements specified by CACFP. Understanding the USDA MyPlate food guide is an important step. Check out ChildCareEd’s article: Childhood Nutrition to learn more.

Implement Recordkeeping Systems:

  • Establish effective recordkeeping systems to document meals served, attendance, and other necessary information. Accurate and timely recordkeeping is crucial for demonstrating compliance with CACFP regulations.

Submit the Application:

  • Submit your completed CACFP application to the Maryland State Department of Education's School and Community Nutrition Programs Branch. Include all required documentation and ensure that your application is accurate and complete.

Participate in Monitoring Visits:

  • Be prepared for monitoring visits from representatives of MSDE or their designated agencies. During these visits, your program's compliance with CACFP regulations will be assessed. Use these visits as an opportunity to address any questions and demonstrate your commitment to program requirements.

Receive Approval:

  • Upon successful completion of the application process and verification of compliance, your child care program will receive approval to participate in CACFP. This approval allows you to start receiving cash reimbursements for eligible meals served.

Implement CACFP Guidelines:

  • Start implementing CACFP guidelines in your child care program. This involves serving nutritious meals that meet program standards, incorporating nutrition education, and maintaining ongoing compliance with program regulations. Look for some Healthy Nutrition Tips with ChildCareEd’s article: 4 Healthy Children Nutrition Tips for Daycare Providers

Stay Informed and Seek Support:

  • Stay informed about any updates or changes to CACFP regulations in Maryland. Regularly check the MSDE website for resources, updates, and additional support. If needed, reach out to the MSDE's School and Community Nutrition Programs Branch for guidance. ChildCareEd’s #free resources include the following items to support those participating in the CACFP program.

By following these steps and maintaining ongoing compliance, your child care program in Maryland can successfully participate in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), contributing to the well-being and nutrition of the children in your care.

Family Child Care Participation:

Family Child Care Providers in Maryland participate in the CACFP through specific sponsoring organizations, listed below. The sponsors provide Family Child Care providers with CACFP training and technical assistance and monitor compliance with CACFP regulations. Family Child Care Providers interested in participating should contact a sponsoring agency listed below to get started.

Family Child Care Sponsor Agencies (as of October 2023): 

Cecil County
Name: Christina Shirley, Human Services Supervisor Cecil County CACFP
Phone: (410) 996-0253
LEAs served: Baltimore, Cecil, Harford, Kent Counties and Baltimore City

Frederick Community Action Agency
Name: Sarah McAleavy
Phone: (301) 600-6263
LEAs served: Carroll, Frederick Counties

Montgomery County Public Schools
Name: Nancy Oswald
Phone: (240) 740-7397 or (240) 740-7395
LEA served: Montgomery County

The Planning Council
Name: Lisa Lyons, CACFP Program Manager
Phone: (757) 657-0716
LEAs served: All Maryland Counties and Baltimore City

Prince George’s County Public Schools
Name: Pamela Watts
Phone: (301) 817-0535
LEA served: Prince George’s County

Enrollment in CACFP provides crucial financial support, offering cash reimbursements to offset the costs associated with providing nutritious meals and snacks to eligible children. This support not only eases the financial burden on child care providers but also enables them to invest in program enhancements and resources, ultimately enriching the learning environment. Furthermore, participation in CACFP ensures that children receive balanced and healthy meals, positively impacting their overall health and development. By instilling #healthy-eating habits at an early age, child care providers contribute to the long-term well-being of the children they serve. Additionally, CACFP compliance aligns with licensing standards, fostering regulatory adherence and supporting professional development opportunities. Overall, CACFP participation enhances the quality of child care, promotes health-conscious practices, and contributes to a thriving and well-nourished community of young learners.

Looking for information on child nutrition? ChildCareEd offers several courses that focus on healthy eating and child nutrition. 


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