Off-Site Monitoring Waiver: Oregon Case Study
November 9, 2023
USDA has the authority to waive on-site monitoring requirements for the CACFP. State Agencies can submit a 12(l) waiver application to USDA in order to allow for off-site monitoring flexibilities in their state. Oregon was the first state to submit an application and the first state to be approved! Their approved waiver allows sponsoring organizations to conduct one visit remotely for all family child care homes and allows an additional remote visit for family child care homes located more than 100 miles or 2 hours from their sponsor’s office.
USDA Waiver Authority
Under Section 12(l) of the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (NSLA), the Secretary of Agriculture is given the authority to waive any requirements within the NSLA for a State or eligible service provider that requests a waiver if:
- the Secretary determines that the waiver of the requirement would facilitate the ability of the State or eligible service provider to carry out the purpose of the program;
- the State or eligible service provider has provided notice and information to the public regarding the proposed waiver; and
- the State or eligible service provider demonstrates to the satisfaction of the Secretary that the waiver will not increase the overall cost of the program to the Federal Government, and, if the waiver does increase the overall cost to the Federal Government, the cost will be paid from non-Federal funds.
Request a Waiver
The State agency can request an off-site monitoring waiver (in addition to other no-cost flexibilities) in their state by submitting an application that:
- identifies the statutory or regulatory requirements that are requested to be waived;
- in the case of a State requesting a waiver, describes actions, if any, that the State has undertaken to remove State statutory or regulatory barriers;
- describes the goal of the waiver to improve services under the program and the expected outcomes if the waiver is granted; and
- includes a description of the impediments to the efficient operation and administration of the program
Oregon First to Receive 12(l) Waiver for Off-site Monitoring
The Oregon Department of Education worked diligently to pursue the 12(l) waiver for family child care home sponsoring organizations to conduct monitoring visits off-site. They were committed to maintaining access to the CACFP for providers in rural and hard-to-reach areas and in locations not covered by Sponsoring Organizations.
Outlining the Need
While Oregon has three sponsors of family child care homes, none of those sponsors service central or eastern Oregon. However, during the pandemic one sponsor took on providers in those locations through the use of off-site monitoring. Many of those sites are located seven hours away from the sponsor, and with the end of the off-site monitoring flexibility, it was no longer financially or logistically feasible for the sponsor to continue servicing those areas. As a result, the sponsor had to drop 58 providers that serve over 850 children.
Approved Waiver Request
In their application, Oregon outlined more detailed and distance-dependent procedures for off-site monitoring:
- For homes 100 miles or two hours or more from the sponsor’s office, Oregon requested that two of the three visits be conducted virtually. They stated that they will require one unannounced off-site visit and one unannounced on-site visit with in-person meal observation.
- For homes less than 100 miles or two hours from the sponsor’s office, Oregon requested one of the three visits be conducted virtually and for that visit to be announced.
In this application, they also stated that sponsors would require written approved monitoring procedures including:
- How virtual visits will be conducted by video (via Zoom, Microsoft Teams, FaceTime, or Google Duo).
- How sponsors will ensure visits are complete
- How they will address providers that miss their unannounced visit
- How and when a monitor will determine if a provider will be determined seriously deficient due to missed virtual visits
They also outlined that pre-approval visits, four-week visits, and Serious Deficiency follow-up reviews will be conducted in-person.
Reach out to email@example.com with any questions. For a brief overview of the benefit of off-site monitoring, read our blog Modernizing the CACFP to Expand Access with Off-Site Monitoring.