This report responds to a requirement of PL 110-246 to assess the effectiveness of state and local efforts to conduct direct certification of children for free school meals. Under direct certification, children are determined eligible for free meals without the need for household applications by using data from other means-tested programs.
The 2004 Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act requires local educational agencies (LEAs) to establish, by school year 2008-09, a system of direct certification of children from households that receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The mandate is phased in over three years; the largest LEAs were required to establish direct certification systems for school year 2006-07.
As of School Year 2007-08, 67 percent of LEAs operated a direct certification system. Across all states, the 2007-08 median direct certification rate of SNAP-participant children was 69 percent. This number is expected to increase sharply in school year 2008-09 as all LEAs become subject to the statutory mandate.