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  • Writer's pictureSamantha Marshall

[Take Action] It's time to comment on the Serious Deficiency proposed rule and you can use CACFP Roundtable's response for guidance

May 21st is the day comments are due for the Serious Deficiency Process in CACFP and

SFSP proposed rule! We've been publishing a lot of materials to help you get ready as we worked to finalize our response. You can find links to all of the resources here. I hope it has helped. If you have any questions, concerns, or want to share what you said in your public comment, don't hesitate to contact me, samantha@ccfproundtable.org.


Below is an overview of the CACFP Roundtable response copied directly from our letter. You can find our whole letter here. Use it as a tool to get you started.


A BIG THANK YOU to our community (you!) for sharing your experiences with us, in a variety of ways so that we could make a strong letter and be confident that it is not only reflective of the community voice but could improve your experiences and increase access to the CACFP. Don't forget, when you comment, share your individual experiences. We shared some of them but USDA needs to hear it from you. When they hear from a lot of us, with our varied experiences, they learn more and have a better idea about how to make a program that better for you to operate.


Comment in either of these ways:

  • Click here and leave your comment in the box or upload a file. You can submit as an organization, an individual, or anonymously.

  • National CACFP Sponsors Association has a form letter and platform you can use. Be sure to customize the letter if you choose to use this.


This is one of the special elements of our government and systems - one of the times the government has to listen and respond. Public comment is our chance to impact policy decisions that ultimately determine how you run your programs and provide meals and services to your community members. Let's take advantage of this opportunity and make our voices heard!


RT Comment_SD in CACFP Proposed Rule_5-17-2024
.pdf
Download PDF • 451KB

Two other public comment letters you can use for guidance:

 

The recommendations throughout this letter are reflective of the community’s experiences and collective suggestions. As a whole, the recommendations urge USDA FNS to consider a different pathway for operators who cannot manage the program because of the complexities layered on throughout the years of CACFP administration. 


The Serious deficiency process, even when triggered by serious management problems (as proposed in the rule), should be reserved for those with the most severe financial mismanagement issues, intentional misuse of federal funds, and/or fraud. The alternate pathway is at the heart of all of the comments and recommendations in this letter. We propose the alternate pathway in effort to reserve the serious deficiency process, to be used as it was intended; a tool to remove the bad actors from CACFP. 


Highlights specific to the proposed rule:

  • Emphasize technical assistance is preferred and required prior to the serious deficiency process and that state agencies and sponsors are empowered to provide as much technical assistance as needed prior to removal from the program.

  • Temporary deferral has not been eliminated, as it is written in the proposed rule; it now has a time limit.  

  • The five criteria proposed to be codified, must be considered (and met) as a whole during the assessment of a serious management problem. If one or two of the criteria are met, this should not equate to a serious management problem. USDA FNS must make this clear in the final rule.

  • Current serious deficiency list should be removed from regulation and replaced with a list specific to severe financial mismanagement, intentional misuse of federal funds, and/or fraud.

  • We support a path to full correction. Good standing should equate to full correction. Remove the extended time frames that are proposed prior to full correction for new and/or repeat findings for all operators.

  • National Disqualified List (NDL) should be reserved for only those operators who have gone through the serious deficiency process and terminated for cause because of severe financial mismanagement, intentional misuse of federal funds, and/or fraud, as well as imminent threat to health and safety through suspension. Additionally, the time required on the NDL should be four years or less.

  • Family child care homes and sponsored unaffiliated centers should have the same amount of time for corrective action (90 days) as institutions.

  • Due process/fair hearing:

  • At the time of serious management problem determination, operators should be able to contest the determination prior to continuing down the serious deficiency pathway.

  • At the time of fair hearing for a serious deficiency and termination for cause, operators should be able to contest the determination itself, not just the process.

  • Family child care homes should be able to request an in person hearing, as institutions are allowed.

  • Require technical assistance throughout all parts of corrective action, including the creation of the corrective action plan.

  • Make clear that serious deficiency can only be used for federal regulations. Added and unnecessary state rules layered on top of federal regulation cannot be considered a serious management problem and place operators on the serious deficiency pathway.

  • Required suspension for false claims is dangerous and cannot be in the final rule. There is currently no definition of false claim in the current or proposed rule. False claims are interpreted differently across the states and even down to staff reviewers. This provision in the proposed rule does not meet the intended or stated goals of USDA FNS.

  • Serious management problem definition needs to be narrowly tailored to severe financial mismanagement, intentional misuse of federal funds, and/or fraud. IF this is not possible, it needs to be more specific and remove the reference to “quality of meals.”

 

Our next member meeting is May 22nd! Join your fellow CACFP Roundtable members for conversation and CDSS CACFP Branch for updates. Register here.


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