1. What is the hardest part of sponsoring unaffiliated centers?
    • Staffing. It can be difficult to find that right people who can handle the pressure.  The person must be determined not to let the responsibility and learning curve get them down.  They must be tactful and gracious at the same time.
    • The numbers. It is no harder that being a sponsor of family child care homes…just more of it.  Be sure that you understand how much food needs to be prepared and purchased by the center, the numbers can get overwhelming.
    • Center Staff Turnover. There is a lot of staff turnover and often the sponsor is unaware of when this happens.  Staying on top of that and ensuring they are trained is a challenge.
    • Night and Weekend Monitoring. Large centers that provide care 7 days a week (including suppers) are a challenge to monitor because it requires monitoring visits on weekends and at night.  These monitoring visits can take hours.
    • No Start-Up Funds. There are no initial start-up funds offered through the CACFP, so finding the funds to cover the initial costs can be challenging. Sponsors have donated their vacation time, used donations or fundraising efforts, or other sources of income unrelated to their home sponsorship programs.
  2. What do you wish you’d known before beginning to sponsor centers?
    • To focus my efforts on serving centers with large capacities in low income areas. These centers and families need the CACFP most, and the reimbursement will be large enough to cover more of costs associated.
    • Make sure you understand your state agency’s expectations regarding cost allocation, budgeting, and whether or not the serious deficiency process applies for centers.
    • Start off your centers with a thorough understanding of what is required and what actions will be taken if they are out of compliance with the regulations. Let them know there is no wiggle room in this program.
  3. Ask yourself the following questions before applying to your state agency to begin sponsoring unaffiliated centers:
    • Do I have the start-up capital needed to pay for the costs involved with sponsoring centers?
    • Is my state agency prepared to help me?
    • Do I acknowledge that to stay in business, sponsors must start working with centers, shelters, adult care facilities, and after school programs, etc. because the number of providers continues to dwindle?
    • Am I willing to work as hard or harder than I did when I started sponsoring providers?
    • Am I ready to succeed even when everyone thinks I am crazy?
    • Do I have access to unrestricted funds?
    • If I do not have access to unrestricted funds can I document that I am not using funds from my home sponsorship?
    • Can I send emails in the evening?
    • Can I do it without asking staff to help with center start-up?
    • Do I know and understand the state and federal requirements?
    • Am I willing to attend the state agency training for new independent centers to learn what the state expects from them?
    • Am I willing to provide centers with additional services outside of what is required for the CACFP that make my agency’s value proposition more enticing than choosing to contract directly with the state agency?


Beginning to sponsor unaffiliated centers takes time and effort, the sponsor’s who’ve succeeded tell us it has been worth it.