Food Program Manual

Welcome to the WECA Food Program!

Are you ready to make a difference? Each day, you help Wisconsin children establish healthy eating habits that can last a lifetime. And we’re here to assist you.

The food cost reimbursement you'll receive from WECA helps offset the expense of food and at the same time we can give you fresh ideas and inspiration for this essential aspect of quality child care.

Our WECA staff strive to make Food Program membership easy and rewarding. If there’s anything we can do to improve your experience, please feel free to contact me by email ppolenz@wisconsinearlychildhood.org.

Pam Polenz

GETTING STARTED+

Here are some proven steps for a successful Food Program experience. Your Area Coordinator is available to assist with any part of the process.

Get organized
Over time, you’ll be using key pieces of data frequently. Keep them in a handy place.

  • Your Provider Number
  • Your Area Coordinator's name and phone number
  • Our website: wisconsinearlychildhood.org/food-program
  • Your PIN for online claiming 
    Online claiming is the fastest way to record your meals and receive your reimbursement. 

Enroll all children in your care, even if you will not claim all of them on the Food Program.

Sign up for direct deposit.

Start claiming online WECA’s online claiming system. This can save you time and help ensure that you receive your best reimbursement.

Become familiar with the few paper forms you’ll need to turn in.

Be sure to notify your Area Coordinator if you change your address, phone number, email address, days and hours of operation or mealtimes and submit updated license or certification upon receipt to the WECA office.

To remain in good standing, we require you to comply with Food Program policies, which are described here and in the Sponsor/Provider Agreement. 

HOW IT WORKS+
Calendar Day Each Day: 

Serve all of the required foods and the required portions for each child. Refer to the Infant Meal Pattern and the Child Care Meal Pattern for more specific information.
Record which foods were served and to which children those meals and snacks were served.

Your Area Coordinator can share “best practices” with you – methods for recording food and attendance that have worked for very busy providers like you.
   
Calendar Month

Each Month:

  • Submit your claim by the 5th of the following month.
  • Mail any new Child Enrollment Forms, Parent Provider Formula Agreements, Special Diet or Special Need forms to the WECA Office so that they are received by the 5th of the following month. 

If you’re not online claiming, see your Area Coordinator for the additional paperwork (Menu and Attendance Forms and Claim Information Form).

   
Calendar Year

Each Year:

  • Fulfill the annual training requirement paper form.
  • Participate in at least three (3) home visits with your Area Coordinator.
  • Complete child re-enrollment paperwork.
  • File and store three (3) years (plus current month) of Food Program records.

 

 

HOW TO ENROLL CHILDREN+

Children from birth through 12 years old in your care may be enrolled in the Food Program.  With additional documentation, persons 13 years and older with special needs may also be enrolled.  A Child Enrollment Form must be sent in before, or along with, the first claim that includes a new child. 

Enrolling an Infant (a child less than 1-year-old):

The Child Enrollment Form must be accompanied by a Parent/Provider Formula Agreement. 

Enrolling Your Own Child:

If you meet income standards, you may be paid for meals, and snacks served to your own residential child or other residential children.  At least one daycare child must be served each meal and snack with your own child or residential child.

Enrolling a Person 13 Years or Older with Special Needs:

Children may be claimed on the Food Program until they reach their 13th birthday. Persons 13 years or older may be claimed if they are verified as having special needs and the provider is approved to provide special-needs care. A Verification of Special Needs form must be completed and signed by the child’s doctor.

Special Dietary Needs/Preferences

Sometimes children can't be served a required meal component because of a special dietary need or disability. A parent may also request that a child receive an approved milk substitute due to lifestyle preference. 

Depending on the circumstances, a Special Diet/Nondairy Substitute Form must be completed by the appropriate medical authority or the parent and submitted to the WECA office so the child can be reimbursed properly. 

Some key things to know:

  • The program is available to all children in care without regard to race, color, national origin, age, sex, or disability.
  • As a childcare provider, you will give each parent/guardian a letter describing Food Program benefits and their right to receive them (or post this information where all families can see it).  Parents then complete an enrollment form for each of their children.
  • Whether a parent accepts or declines the Food Program, a Child Enrollment Form must be submitted for each child receiving care in your participating home. 
  • As a confirmation, WECA will contact parents who decline to verify that they are aware of the Food Program and that their child is eligible to participate.
FINANCIAL MATTERS+

Rates and Payment Levels
Rates payable for each meal are adjusted by the USDA every July. We will notify you of each rate change.

  • Currently, you will receive the following reimbursement for each meal served.
      Tier 1    Tier 2 
    Breakfast   $1.31    $0.48
    Lunch/Dinner    $2.46 $1.49
    Snack $0.73 $0.20

    Note: Rates effective July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2017.

  • A  maximum of two meals + one snack or two snacks + one meal per child per day can be claimed

You may submit your monthly claim after you have served the last meal or snack for the month. Claims received by the 5th of the next month will be processed on time.  Please note that claims received after the 5th are processed one month later. Your Area Coordinator can help you set up your recordkeeping process so that month-end submission goes smoothly. Payment cannot be made for claims received 30 or more days after the original due date.  

Payment schedule
If your claim for March, for example, is received on time (by April 5), it will be processed in April, and you will receive your deposit in early May.  Typically, direct deposit occurs on the first working day of the month.

To find out the specific deposit date, call 800-783-9322, and then press 4001. This message is updated each month as soon as we know the new deposit date.

Claim Summary
Make sure to review your claim summary every month. It will let you know if you lost payment due to errors.  Claim summaries are available online at CACFP.Net. Your area coordinator will help you avoid claiming errors.

Questions regarding your payment
You may request an adjustment to your check if you feel you've been paid incorrectly by submitting a Claim Adjustment Form. The form and any necessary documentation must be received by the 15th of the month in which the reimbursement check was received.  Adjustments cannot be made for late claims or late or incorrect forms such as the tier documentation.

Tax implications
Your reimbursement from the Food Program is considered taxable income. Consider talking with a tax professional or consulting other financial resources to learn how to report your Food Program income. 

HOME VISITS & ANNUAL TRAINING+

By joining the Food Program, you agree to have your Area Coordinator visit periodically. Your Area Coordinator will visit during working hours at least three times a year. Typically your visit will be unannounced.  Even if there are no children in care on a given day, a visit may occur if your child care business is open.

During the visit, your Area Coordinator will: 

  • Answer questions you may have about the Food Program
  • Supply you with forms and other Food Program materials you may need
  • Observe your child care practices including a meal or snack being served to children
  • Review your current menu, meal counts, attendance records, forms, and past claims
  • Check for sanitation and safety in areas where food is stored, prepared, and served
  • Write her observations on a Home Review Form and give you a copy
  • Confirm your annual training requirement

When coming to your work site, your Area Coordinator will always carry a WECA photo ID. You may ask to see identification before agreeing to the visit.

If you plan to be away from home during a meal or snack time, or if you change your mealtime schedule, please notify your Area Coordinator by 7:00 that morning.  If you do not call ahead, and the Area Coordinator attempts a home visit, you will lose the payment for that meal/snack.

Providers enrolled in the Food Program are required to complete an annual training by September 30th of each year.  New providers in their first year of the Food Program are exempt. 

KEY POLICIES AND PROCEDURES+

Please keep good records and have them available for your Area Coordinator. If records are not available, all meals and snacks not recorded must be deducted. Menus and meal counts (which must include child’s name or number) must be recorded by the end of each business day on line or on paper. State attendance records may not be substituted for meal counts. The WECA Food Program follows these policies you should be aware of.

  1. Improvement Plan/Technical Assistance
    When a situation involving the food program in your childcare home needs to change, an Improvement Plan/Technical Assistance is developed for you.  The Area Coordinator outlines the plan on the Home Visit Review Form, including a description of the goal, steps to be taken to accomplish the goal, and date for completion.  Common situations address sanitation, food storage, record keeping, attendance records or Menu and Attendance Forms that aren’t current and readily available.
  2. Warning Letter/Corrective Action Plan
    If an Improvement Plan does not result in the needed change, a Warning Letter may be issued, and a corrective action letter written.
  3. Serious Deficiency Notice
    If the area needing to be changed still has not been corrected, a Notice of Serious Deficiency is issued.  This can happen for a variety of reasons, including being unresponsive and/or unavailable for a home visit, a pattern of not keeping menu/attendance records on a daily basis, or claiming children for meals/snacks for which they were not present.  If this notice is issued, the change must be made immediately.  Otherwise, a Notice of Proposed Termination and Proposed Disqualification for Cause is sent.
  4. Notice of Proposed Termination and Proposed Disqualification for Cause
    When all else fails and no cooperation or change is made in the childcare home, a Notice of Proposed Termination and Proposed Disqualification for Cause will be sent. A Provider is sent appeal rights. If the provider does not appeal or loses the appeal, the provider will be removed from the program for seven (7) years, and in some cases, repayment of food program funds will be required. 

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.