PL 104-193: Changes to Applications for Waivers in the Child Nutrition Programs
PL 104-193, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, was signed by the President on Aug. 22, 1996. Section 705(f) of that legislation made a number of changes to Section 12(1) of the National School Lunch Act which governs the waiver process in the Child Nutrition Programs. This memorandum identifies the changes made by PL 104-193 and provides guidance to be used in developing and submitting waiver requests to the Child Nutrition Division. (This guidance is a revision of the original guidance package issued in April 1995 and contains appropriate excerpts from that material in order to create a single, updated source of information.) We are asking that you make this material available to the state agencies in your region which administer any of the Child Nutrition Programs.
As indicated in the previous guidance issuance, we are recommending that state agencies consult with you when they are developing waiver requests. Further, the submission of applications from state agencies to the division is to come through your office. Your involvement at that point in the process is to evaluate the request and to send it on to us with your recommendation for approval or denial. Even though the potential benefits from individual waivers may be significant, there are real burdens on local, state and federal administrators associated with granting and administering these waivers. As a result, we are hopeful that the interaction between you and your states gives the maximum opportunity for a balanced evaluation of all proposals. Needless to say, we are willing to be brought into discussions about specific waiver requests at any point in the development process so as to help ascertain the viability of the request. Finally, as a matter of information, it is our intention to respond to these requests, whether approved or denied, through the applicable regional office. We will also provide a copy of each response to all regional offices.
As noted in the attached summary, one of the changes made to the waiver process by PL 104-193 was the removal of the requirements that local entities submit to the state annual reports that describe their use of waivers and evaluate how the waiver contributed to improved services to children participating in the program for which the waiver was requested. It also removed the requirement that the state submit an annual report to the Secretary summarizing all reports received by the state from local entities. It did not, however, remove the requirement that the Department submit an annual report on waiver activity to the Congress. Given that fact, the Department intends to continue to require annual reports of States in which waivers have been granted. Further, the information to be submitted in these annual reports will continue to be that required under the prior statutory provisions since the type of information that the Department is required to provide the Congress under the statute has not changed.
A second change made by PL 104-193 was the removal of the requirement that waivers could be issued for a period of time up to 3 years, with extensions beyond 3 years permitted if the Department determines that the waiver has been effective in enabling the state or local entity to carry out the purposes of the program. The Department views this change essentially as an elimination of a maximum time limitation. Therefore, future waivers will be in effect for an amount of time determined by the Department at the time of approval without regard to an outside time limit. Further, the Department will continue to consider extensions of waivers beyond the period established at the time of approval based on the criteria already in place.
ALBERTA C. FROST
Child Nutrition Division