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Providers Choice - Covid-19

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COVID-19 and the Food Program

July 15, 2020 Updates:

Here are some resources to help support and inform you during Covid-19:


June 12, 2020 Updates:

Providing Multiple Meals at a Time for Children During the COVID-19 Pandemic:

Under nationwide non-congregate feeding and meal time waivers, state agencies may allow Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) sites to provide more than one day’s worth of meals to eligible children via a single meal pick-up or delivery. This resource provides considerations, tips, best practices, and sample menus for CACFP operators who wish to distribute multiple meals at one time.

www.fns.usda.gov/tn/providing-multiple-cacfp-meals-during-coronavirus



June 9, 2020 Updates:

Applications for the third round of Peacetime Emergency Child Care Grants due by June 15th:

Applications for the third round of Peacetime Emergency Child Care Grants will be accepted from Monday, June 8 through Monday, June 15 at 5:00 p.m. Whether or not a child care program received a grant previously, they still need to complete a new application for round three.

Get more information and apply here



May 6, 2020 Updates:

Update for Family Child Care Providers:

Due to the Covid-19 outbreak, many of this year’s Food Program Trainings were postponed. Because the possibility of resuming in-person trainings later this year remains uncertain, we are hopeful that we will be able to provide the trainings online. We are currently working though the logistics of creating an online course. We hope to resume Food Program Trainings in an online format sometime in June. Please stay tuned for more details.

Monitoring Update

At this time PCI continues to uphold the guidance from the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE), to cease In-Person Monitoring of family child care homes due to COVID19. Your field representative will be contacting you periodically to answer any Food Program questions you may have. Please do not hesitate to reach out to your Field Representative or the Providers Choice office with any questions that you may have.

We will keep you informed as updates to monitoring change. Our Field Representatives miss seeing you and your children on their visits and look forward to being back visiting you as soon as they are able to.



April 30, 2020 Updates:

Update for Family Child Care Providers:

Child Enrollment Updates
If you have recently completed child enrollment updates or are in the process of updating child enrollments this month, keep in mind that children who are not currently coming will not have their enrollments updated at this time. It is important to return the update renewals for the children who are currently in care. Do not hang on to the update packets to gather these missing signatures for children who are not currently attending. You may update these children’s enrollments when the children return to care. The child enrollment should be completed by the parent in the calendar month when the child returns to care.

School Out Calendars
The school out calendars in KidKare have been updated to include the month of May as a school vacation period. School age children in care do not need to be marked as "No School" to claim morning snack and lunch until September 1, 2020.



April 24, 2020 Updates:

Update for Family Child Care Providers:

If you are a family child care provider receiving school meals to serve to the children in your child care, the school site may start to ask for identification documenting you are a licensed provider. Providers Choice can provide a letter stating you are a child care provider participating on the Child and Adult Care Food Program. This letter will serve as verification when an adult is picking up meals without children present.

To request a verification letter, e-mail provider@providerschoice.com and provide the following information:
  • Your Name and Provider Number
  • Name of Site where meals are picked up
  • The number and type of meals received (For example: You pick up meals on Mondays and you receive breakfast and lunch for 5 days.)
Keep in mind:
  • Providers cannot claim meals provided by the school on the CACFP
  • Meals provided by the school must be served for the meals and days intended
  • The meals may not be used for a different purpose or meal



April 13, 2020 Updates:

Update for Family Child Care Providers:

DHS temporary modification to family child care licensing requirements effective April 1, 2020:
Similar to a C1 license, providers can now care for up to 8 children under school age while retaining their current license, if it is not a C1. Of those, no more than 3 children may be infants and toddlers. Of those, only 2 may be infants. The total number of children permitted under the license has not changed; only the age distribution has changed.
  • For many providers who currently have a Class A or B license, this can increase the number of preschoolers who can be in their care. Providers who decide to make this temporary change do not need to request a variance to licensing BUT DO NEED to contact the Providers Choice office to inform us that you will be changing your license during this emergency order.
  • Please inform Providers Choice by email at provider@providerschoice.com or with a handwritten note on your paper claim.
  • Include your name, provider number and that you will be temporarily changing your license during this emergency order to allow for 8 children under school age (total of 10 children).



April 7, 2020 Updates:

Family child care providers:

Providers Choice and our Field Representatives have received many questions in regards to if we will be conducting home visits during this emergency Stay at Home order. Our top priority is the health and safety of all the children, providers and our staff. Providers Choice is following all guidance from Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), licensing, the Governor and CDC. We recently have been instructed by the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) to suspend all face-to-face home visits during this emergency order and time of social distancing. Prior to this instruction Providers Choice had NOT been making in-person visits since mid-March.

Providers Choice field and office staff are still here to provide assistance, answer questions and support you during this time. Please reach out by phone or email, we are here for you! While Providers Choice staff are still required to monitor the program we are looking into other options to conduct monitoring visits potentially using electronic tools. We will keep you posted when we have more information regarding monitoring visits.

We appreciate all you do for the children in your care to keep them healthy and safe.



April 3, 2020 Updates:

How to Meet the Meal Pattern During a Pandemic

During this time, we understand that there may be times when it may be challenging to meet CACFP meal pattern guidelines for child care providers and centers across Minnesota. Some food staples might be in short supply or in limited quantities when shopping. We are here to help you think creatively to serve creditable meals and snacks! Here are a few best practices for meeting the Food Program guidelines during the pandemic:

No Supply Limits for Child Care Providers:
Governor Walz’s Executive Order 20-19 instructs that “no supplier or business should limit or restrict reasonable orders of cleaning, hygiene, and sanitation supplies by child care providers who are serving children of parents working in critical sectors.” Please share this language with local stores and suppliers; we are doing the same. Please report violations to sahviolations@state.mn.us.

When stores simply do not have what you need:
  • Milk: Milk is in high demand and we recognize that it can be difficult to purchase enough to meet your typical needs. MDE has issued guidance on this issue:
    • Breakfast, lunch and supper served by child care homes and centers may include pasteurized milk of any fat content, if skim and 1% are not available.
    • Smaller portions may be served if the full portion is not available.
    • If no milk is available, breakfast, lunch and supper may be served without milk until milk is available.
  • Whole Grain Rich Items: Since whole grain bread and other whole-grain rich products may be limited, consider using breakfast as an opportunity to meet the whole grain-rich requirement. Oatmeal is a great whole grain option to try with different toppings and mix-ins. Other whole grains, such as quinoa, can be delicious for breakfast, too! Check out the Providers Choice list of approved whole grain-rich cereal options for additional suggestions. If you can find whole wheat flour at your local grocery store, you can easily make a range of delicious whole grain-rich breakfast items from scratch (such as pancakes, muffins, biscuits and bread) using at least 50% whole wheat flour in your recipes.
  • Fresh Fruits and Vegetables: Some providers and centers are reporting that fresh produce is limited (or more expensive) in their areas. Remember that canned and frozen fruits and vegetables are just as nutritious as fresh! Items like tomato sauce can be used as a dip for garlic bread or homemade biscuits. Get creative with soups, casseroles, smoothies and other dishes that feature canned and frozen produce.
  • Meat: Items like ground beef can be hard to find in grocery stores, or may be much more expensive than usual. Don’t forget about the many plant-based protein options available like beans, lentils and nut butters! Shelf-stable, affordable items like dried beans are full of protein and fiber and are simple to prepare. Consider canned tuna, canned chicken or turkey or other canned fish as another affordable source of lean protein.

  • USE THESE TIPS FOR SUCCESS:
    • Bring a copy of your child care license to the grocery store: some providers have had success obtaining larger quantities of limited items like milk and bread when showing their child care license to a grocery store manager.
    • Child Care centers: Please include any COVID-19 menu changes on your paper menus with menu substitutions that are submitted to the office or make the change in Minute Menu CX.
    • Family child care providers: Please include any COVID-19 menu changes in the menu comments section on KidKare or record any menu changes on paper claims.
    • Click here to download a lanyard/badge to wear when you’re shopping: Let others know you are providing an important service for our nation. “I’m a child care professional. I’m doing my job caring for children so that emergency workers can do theirs during this crisis.”
We are hearing from many providers and centers who, despite temporary limitations on some food items, are still able to meet the meal pattern requirements. Many of you are taking this opportunity to be creative with new food items and introduce children to less-familiar foods! Your health and safety is our TOP priority! If you cannot meet the meal pattern due to supply chain disruption at your local store, please reach out to the Providers Choice office.

Financial Grants to Child Care Providers
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted almost all areas of our economy and daily lives. Child care providers are in a unique position in that they provide an essential service, especially to first responders and health care workers, and yet have an even harder time than usual staying in business.

Providers Choice has discovered a few entities that are providing financial grants to child care home providers and child care centers located in the out-state and metropolitan areas. By clicking on the links below you will be redirected to each of the organizations sites. There you will find the information and applications. Thank you for your commitment to nourishing the children in your care!



March 27, 2020 Updates:

As you read this update, we hope you and your family are safe and healthy. Providers Choice remains committed to you and the families that you serve. In response to the Governor's Executive Order to Stay at Home for the next two weeks we acknowledge that this likely brings more stress to you, your family and the families that you serve. The Stay at Home Executive order lists child care providers as essential and encourages child care facilities to remain open. You are more than “essential” during this time. You are providing the normalcy that children across Minnesota need right now. Thank you for being the super heroes that our children look up to!

During the next few weeks Providers Choice is STILL here for you. We are considered essential and will continue to process your claims and provide support. We will be available to take your calls and emails. Our office staff is available by phone 800-356-5983 or email provider@providerschoice.com or you can always contact your Field Representative to answer questions and provide support to you.

Updates for Family Child Care Providers:
We expect more waivers and updates from MDE and USDA soon. Please stay tuned!

Updates for Child Care Centers:

Do any of your families now qualify for increased reimbursement rates?
If you have any families that have had a change in income they may now qualify for increased reimbursement for your center. Families can complete a new Annual Family CACFP Enrollment Form and submit it to the Providers Choice Office. Please contact your mentor in the office for more Annual Family CACFP Enrollment Forms or with any questions.

Closed or experiencing reduced capacity and interested in serving meals to the children normally in your care?

A waiver from USDA has been released that now allows for "Grab & Go Meals”. If you are interested in participating in the Food Program in this way, please let your Field Representative or Mentor know that you will serve meals in this manner.
  • What does this look like?
    • The provider/center could provide one day’s meals (Breakfast, lunch and snack) in a bag or package that the parent could pick up. The provider/center can then claim all those meals as if the child was in attendance.
    • A day or more of meals may be provided at one time.
    • Food safety must be considered.
    • The provider/center can have the meals picked up or the provider/center could deliver them to the child’s home with parent consent (a note is OK).
    • The provider/center would claim the meals as if it was served at their normal days and times.
    • The child must be enrolled in the Food Program to participate.
    • Providers Choice will reimburse meals up to license capacity.
  • Why do this?
    • For providers/centers that wish to remain closed for health and safety reasons they can still claim reimbursement of the CACFP (and get paid).
    • For many kids CACFP meals are their only food that they receive, without this support the child goes hungry. While some schools have opened meals for any child, some schools only allow only their own students to participate.
    • We don’t want any children to go hungry, if providers can help we want them to be able to.
  • Please contact your Field Representative or Mentor with any questions that you have.
Free Meals for Kids mobile APP available:

Download the Free Meals for Kids APP today. It's a great way to help families and kids locate free healthy meals during the pandemic. Let's work together to ensure hungry kids don't miss a meal during school closures.

Apple: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/free-meals-for-kids/id1230666424?uo=4
Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.app.p3703BA



March 19, 2020 Updates:

With the recent events of the COVID-19 virus impacting child care, schools, businesses, and our daily lives, we want you to know that we are here for you and that we are all in this together.

We remain committed to providing stellar service and support to our providers. We understand that there are many unknowns at this point. We are in frequent communication and are working closely with the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) to get you the most up to date information regarding this situation and how it may impact your childcare and the children and families you serve. Any new information or guidance will be posted here as soon as we receive it.

School Calendar:
We have updated the “Calendar” in KidKare to reflect “No School” for all weekdays from March 16th – May 3rd. Providers do NOT need to mark in KidKare that school age children are not in school. Paper claiming providers do not need to send in a note with this information. If school closures continue past March we will notify you of these additional days.

Shortage of Milk for the Child Nutrition Program:
7 CFR Part 226.20 allows State Agencies to temporarily approve the service of breakfast, lunches or suppers without milk during an emergency period. For family child care provider claims of March 2020 until further notice MDE has approved:
  • Breakfast, lunch and supper served by family child care providers may include pasteurized milk of any fat content if skim and 1% are not available.
  • Smaller portion sizes of milk may be served if the full quantity is not available.
  • If only flavored milk is available, it may be served with any fat content.
  • Milk must be pasteurized if served.
  • If no milk is available, breakfast, lunch and supper may be served without milk until milk is available.
  • MDE will notify Family Child Care Sponsors (Providers Choice) when this waiver is no longer in effect and we will notify you.
  • Family Child Care Sponsors do not have to apply for this waiver.
  • Sponsors must make an assessment when processing claims that it is reasonable that milk is not available for the provider to serve.
  • These procedures apply to the Family Child Care Sponsors only. Center sponsors must submit a request individually to MDE to obtain approval following procedures posted by MDE.
  • KidKare Claimers: Please select “Milk Not Available” when you are unable to serve milk, serving a milk with a different fat content, serving flavored milk or when unable to serve the required type of milk.
  • Paper claimers: Please record what was served in place of milk or the type of milk that was served.
Enriched Bread:
CACFP 09-2018 USDA memo, a grain credits as enriched when:
  • An enriched grain is listed as the first ingredient on the food’s ingredient list or second after water. The ingredient list will usually say “enriched flour” or “enriched wheat flour,” or there is a sub-listing of nutrients used to enrich the flour, for example, "yellow corn flour {iron, folic acid, riboflavin, niacin, and thiamine}".
  • On some ingredient lists, wheat flour may be listed as the first ingredient. Since it does not say enriched or whole wheat flour, it does not appear to be enriched. However, the list of nutrients may located near the end of the ingredient list. When listed separately the nutrients that will be specifically listed to show a grain is enriched are iron, folic acid, riboflavin, niacin and thiamine.
  • For example, the Kwikery Bake Shop white bread sold at Kwik Trip lists Ferrous Sulfate, Folic Acid, Niacin, Riboflavin, Reduced Iron and Thiamine Mononitrate near the end of the ingredient list. Ferrous sulfate and reduced iron are forms of iron used to enrich grains. With these nutrients listed separately, this product credits as an enriched grain but does not credit as whole grain rich.
DHS Updates:
DHS is posting communications sent to child care providers at https://mn.gov/dhs/covid-19/