Background: In California, many child care and development programs, including the CACFP, are transferring from the CA Department of Education (CDE) to the CA Department of Social Services (CDSS) by July 1. Last month, the CDSS published a draft transition plan, which provides a high level overview of how the transition will actually occur; section 6 is all about CACFP. The Department is seeking comments from the field about the draft transition plan by March 16 and will incorporate the feedback into a final plan, expected to be released on March 31.
Why Comment? CDSS is going through an intentional process to collect stakeholder feedback and input to inform a smooth and coordinated transition. We know CDSS wants to hear from us – let’s use this opportunity to establish open lines of communications and foster a healthy partnership.
Instructions: CDSS is collecting feedback through an online survey. The format is simple – allowing the respondent to provide commentary on one or more sections of the draft plan. We recommend reading through the draft plan before commenting, at the very least the CACFP section (starts on page 45)!
The CACFP Roundtable developed sample comments for you and your colleagues to personalize and use in the survey. Here’s how:
Use all or just some of the sample comments below, but make sure to personalize them and make it your own!
Follow this link to take the survey >> https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/cde_cdss_transition
When asked, check the box “Section 6: Child and Adult Care Food Program - Continuity of Operations, Services and Partnerships.”
Copy and paste your comments into the appropriate “comments” section and fill out the remaining questions.
Survey closes on Tuesday, March 16th.
Thank you for the opportunity to provide comments. CACFP is a crucial resource for families with young children, the child care workforce, outside-of-school programs, the adult day care system, and our state’s caregiving infrastructure. The CACFP provides healthy meals and snacks that support good nutrition, helps children fully develop, and prepares them to be ready to learn at school. CACFP also provides high-quality, affordable child care that supports parents’ ability to work. Unfortunately, CACFP meals and snacks are out of reach for millions of young children in child care. We believe this transition represents an opportunity to strengthen the CACFP in California and address inequities in access to the program.
Thank you for establishing a CACFP Branch. By doing so, CDSS is giving the CACFP community an essential voice at the table. For far too long, there have been systemic disparities in funding, resources, and systems. While silos must be guarded against, we believe forming a CACFP Branch – with dedicated leadership – will promote opportunities for program growth and improved partnerships with the early learning field, licensing, and other supportive services.
Thank you for prioritizing a seamless transition of payments. In the midst of the pandemic and an economic crisis, ensuring no gap in funding for CACFP is of the utmost importance. Under the payment section of the draft plan, it appears the Department intends to develop a new payment system. While we are open to improvements, please ensure that the Department will only begin working on an improved or new payment system once the program has stabilized from the transition.
Bring CACFP into the 21st Century with sweeping digital improvements and across-the-board automation, beginning with simple improvements first. It is time to make otherwise commonplace automations, like electronic signature and direct deposit, the standard for CACFP. Innovations that support integrity, like web-based systems that can communicate with licensing and CalFresh or conduct direct certification for children in child care centers, are welcomed. Please continue to work with stakeholders as you develop a new payment platform and to explore many more technology advancements to better align California’s CACFP with USDA’s flexibilities and the recommendations of the Paperwork Reduction Taskforce.
Ensure terms and language make sense for CACFP. Unfortunately, some key terms for CACFP have different definitions than for other child care programs. To avoid confusion, make sure to define terms when referencing CACFP. For example, an infant in CACFP is a baby between the ages of birth through 11 months; whereas an infant defined by California licensing is any child under the age of 24 months. Similarly, in the draft plan, when referring to provider, operator, and site, it is unclear what is exactly meant.