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Public Notice - Child and Adult Care Sponsor Monitoring During Novel Coronavirus Outbreaks Waiver Request

Wednesday, March 18, 2020 | 04:18pm

In accordance with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Nutrition Services policy memorandum, SP 08-2020, SFSP 04-2020 Child Nutrition Program Meal Service during Novel Coronavirus Outbreaks, March 6, 2020, the Tennessee Department of Human Services (DHS) is seeking a waiver of statutory and/or regulatory Program requirements that were identified in this memo.

In an effort to support social distancing, a waiver request will be submitted to the USDA FNS Southeast Regional Office (SERO) for the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) Sponsors to suspend face to face monitoring visits due to the potential of community spread of COVID-19 for the duration of this Public Health Emergency.

1.      State agency submitting waiver request and responsible State agency staff contact information: 

Tennessee Department of Human Services
Allette Vayda, Director of Operations- Food Programs
James K. Polk Building, 15th Floor
505 Deaderick Street, Nashville, TN 37243

2.      Region:

South East Region

3.      Eligible service providers participating in waiver and affirmation that they are in good standing:

This waiver request applies to all Child and Adult Care (CACFP) Sponsors of daycare homes and centers approved to operate CACFP and are in good standing.

4.      Description of the challenge the State agency is seeking to solve, the goal of the waiver to improve services under the Program, and the expected outcomes if the waiver is granted. [Section 12(l)(2)(A)(iii) and 12(l)(2)(A)(iv) of the NSLA]:

Given the community impact of COVID-19, and the emphasis on social distancing to reduce the spread of the virus, in person Sponsor monitoring visits have become a challenge. TN DHS is requesting a waiver of in person Sponsor monitoring requirements at approved daycare homes and sponsored centers in communities effected by COVID-19. The overall goal for the request is to allow CACFP Sponsors to continue operating and continue ensuring program compliance while adhering to social distancing directives given the impact of COVID-19. 

5.      Specific Program requirements to be waived (include statutory and regulatory citations). [Section 12(l)(2)(A)(i) of the NSLA]:

TN is requesting to waive program regulations at 7 CFR 226.16(d)(4)(iii)(A-D) that outline the requirements of the three required Sponsor reviews.  TN DHS is requesting the waiver of program regulations:

7 CFR 226.16(d)(4)(iii)(A) At least two of the three reviews must be unannounced;

(B) At least one unannounced review must include observation of a meal service;

(C) At least one review must be made during each new facility's first four weeks of Program operations; and

(D) Not more than six months may elapse between reviews.

In order to support CACFP Sponsors during this time of social distancing TN DHS is requesting that in-person Sponsor monitoring requirements for daycare homes and sponsored centers be waived for the duration of this public health emergency.

6.      Detailed description of alternative procedures and anticipated impact on Program operations, including technology, State systems, and monitoring: 

TN DHS does not anticipate any required Program operational changes, including those affecting technology, State systems and monitoring.

TN DHS will require approved program Sponsors to submit a detailed plan outlining how they intend to ensure programmatic compliance without face to face monitoring prior to implementation. TN DHS will encourage Sponsors to continue desk reviews and documentation audits during implementation of the waiver. 

If the waiver is not approved, TN DHS will continue its normal process of ensuring CACFP Sponsors meet all program monitoring requirements.  However, If the waiver is not granted, there would be a reduction in the number of reimbursable meals served in communities due to concerns surrounding COVID-19 spread and the recommendations of social distancing.

TN DHS will continue to conduct program monitoring in accordance with 7 CFR 226 .6(m) throughout the implementation period of the waiver.

7.      Description of any steps the State has taken to address regulatory barriers at the State level. [Section 12(l)(2)(A)(ii) of the NSLA]:

TN DHS is not anticipating any regulatory barriers at the State level.

8.      Anticipated challenges State or eligible service providers may face with the waiver implementation:

TN DHS does not anticipate challenges with the implementation of this waiver.

9.      Description of how the waiver will not increase the overall cost of the Program to the Federal Government. If there are anticipated increases, confirm that the costs will be paid from non-Federal funds. [Section 12(l)(1)(A)(iii) of the NSLA]:

The SA does not anticipate any this waiver increasing the overall cost of the Program to the Federal Government.

10.  Anticipated waiver implementation date and time period: 

Requested Start Date: upon approval

Requested End Date: June 20, 2020, or upon expiration of the federally declared public health emergency, whichever is earlier

11.  Proposed monitoring and review procedures: 

TN DHS will follow the review procedures in accordance with 7 CFP 226.6(m). TN DHS will provide training and technical assistance to sponsors in need of additional guidance on ensuring compliance without conducting face to face monitoring reviews.

TN DHS will ensure CACFP application procedures are in accordance with USDA regulations and ensure sponsors submit adequate documents to support monitoring plans. Approved CACFP monitoring plans will be maintained in the CACFP application system.

12.  Proposed reporting requirements (include type of data and due date(s) to FNS):

The SA will provide to FNS a list of all approved CACFP Sponsors and sites participating in the waiver by December 31st or as requested by FNS. The SA will provide to FNS the number of meal consumed at sites not providing education or enrichment activities and participating in the waiver by December 31st or as requested by FNS