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CACFP Family Day Care Home Participation Study

Resource type
Research and Data
Research Reports
Research type
Participation Characteristics
Resource Materials
PDF Icon Summary (203.96 KB)
PDF Icon Final Report (3.25 MB)

USDA’s Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) is administered by FNS at the federal level and reimbursed through state child nutrition agencies. This study focuses on family day care homes (FDCHs) and their reasons for participating in CACFP. These providers serve a critical need within the childcare system, frequently offering longer hours of care than other types of providers to children in their own communities and neighborhoods. Over the past two decades, the number of FDCHs enrolled in CACFP has decreased by almost half and prior research had not identified clear reasons for the decline.

This study is the first national study to focus on reasons for CACFP participation by comparing current and former participants. The study spans 2019–2023, which coincides with the COVID-19 public health emergency, so it provides a unique look at FDCHs during that time. The study: (1) identifies challenges and barriers FDCH providers participating in CACFP face; and (2) shares recommendations from current and former FDCH providers to address these challenges. In addition to differences by CACFP enrollment status, the study also examines differences by urbanicity (urban/rural) and program size (large/small) among the former and current CACFP providers.

Key Findings

  • Of Family Day Care Home (FDCH) providers who had left CACFP since 2019, over 70 percent were no longer operating FDCHs in 2022. The survey suggests that declines in CACFP participation may result from declines in FDCH providers.
  • Current and former providers alike viewed CACFP positively, finding the program easy to enroll in and praising it for helping provide food to more children.
  • Two-thirds or more of current and former providers cited CACFP’s training and technical assistance as a benefit of participation.
  • Seventy percent of former providers and 62 percent of current providers reported one or more challenges with CACFP. The most frequently reported challenge for both groups was that reimbursements did not cover food costs, which aligns with the program’s intention to help offset food costs, not necessarily fully cover them.
  • Challenges related to paperwork and administrative tasks were more common among former participants.
Page updated: June 26, 2024