Job Duties and Perceived Training Needs
of Sponsor Monitors of Family Child Care Programs
Participating in the Child and Adult Care
Food Program (CACFP)
The purpose of this study was to identify the perceived job duties
and training needs of sponsor monitors of Family Day Care Homes (FDCHs) involved
in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Child and Adult Care Food Program
(CACFP), a federally funded nutrition assistance program designed to provide
healthful meals and snacks. Sponsor monitors are employed by sponsoring organizations
to work with the FDCH providers to assure compliance with program regulations
and program quality.
Researchers performed a content analysis of written job descriptions
(n=33) for the sponsor monitor position received from a national sampling (n=94)
of sponsoring organizations. Two preliminary survey instruments were developed
subsequently to collect data from directors and monitors employed by the sponsoring
organization. An expert panel reviewed and validated the content of the three-part
survey instruments, identifying the job duties and perceived training needs
of sponsor monitors and selected demographic characteristics. The intent was
to assess the level of agreement between directors and monitors relating to
job duties and training needs of FDCH monitor positions.
Surveys were mailed to all sponsoring organizations (n=1,045)
in the United States, the District of Columbia, and three U.S. territories,
generating a 33% (n=349) rate of return for directors and a 24% (n=499) rate
of return for sponsor monitors. There was a 96% agreement between the directors
and monitors regarding the top 50 job duties and an 80% agreement on the top
five training needs for sponsor monitors. An expert panel reviewed the survey
results. Commonalties and redundancies were reduced to a total of 30 job duties
in four functional areas: Training and Technical Assistance, Meal Service, Administrative
Duties, and Professional Behavior and Development.
These study results can assist in the development of competencies,
knowledge, and skills needed to develop training curricula for the professional
effectiveness of monitors employed by approved sponsoring organizations to oversee
FDCHs involved in the CACFP. Competencies, knowledge, and skills can provide
a basis for the development of professional standards for those who oversee
FDCHs operating within the guidelines of the CACFP.
Today, the demand for quality child care has risen with the push
to move mothers from welfare to work, and because more children are cared for
by non-maternal sources (Scarr, 1998). Family Day Care Homes (FDCHs) function
as one avenue in providing quality child care (Carr, 2001). The FDCH functions
as a small group child care business operating within a home setting, providing
services to six or less children with only one caregiver (Scarr, 1998). Often,
the providers' own children make up the total of children requiring child care
in the FDCH. Regulations require that the home must be licensed or approved
in order to provide child care services.
Any FDCH operating within the guidelines of the U.S. Department
of Agriculture (USDA) Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) is granted reimbursement
for meals served (USDA, 2001a). CACFP eligibility requires that the FDCH provider
sign an agreement with an approved sponsoring organization
to participate in the program. The CACFP plays a vital role in improving the
quality of child care by subsidizing FDCH providers for the cost of serving
nutritious meals and snacks, thus making child care services more affordable,
especially for low-income families.
FDCHs operating within the CACFP guidelines are required to provide
meals and snacks according to nutrition standards set forth by USDA (2002).
These same standards are reinforced and consistent with recommendations and
standards established by the American Dietetic Association (ADA). The position
of the ADA (1999) is that all child care programs should achieve recommended
standards for meeting the nutritional needs of children in a safe, sanitary,
and supportive environment that promotes healthy growth and development.
Researchers found that the CACFP is assisting in meeting the
nutritional needs of children while parents are at work (Briley, Roberts-Gray,
& Rowe, 1993). According to Scarr (1998), parents feel that child care providers
play an important role in influencing the nutritional intake of children. His
findings suggest that the parents' perception is that providers have an equal,
if not greater, influence than parents in shaping children's food likes and
dislikes. Therefore, it is important for providers of FDCHs operating within
the CACFP guidelines to serve meals and snacks that fulfill the age-appropriate
nutritional needs of the children under their care, and that they are trained
to do so. The CACFP also lends support in promoting healthy eating patterns
for the beneficiaries of the program. Optimal childhood health and overall development
is promoted through healthy eating patterns (Centers for Disease Control and
Approximately 738 million meals were served to children in 2000
in FDCHs participating in the CACFP (USDA, 2001b). It is the sponsoring organizations
(public or nonprofit private organizations) that are approved by the state agency
for the administration of FDCHs operating within CACFP guidelines. Monitors
employed by sponsoring organizations serve a vital role as gatekeepers for program
quality in the FDCH setting. Monitors are hired by CACFP-approved sponsoring
organizations to train and monitor FDCH providers who serve food prepared within
CACFP guidelines (Hamilton, Stickney, & Crepinsek, 1999). The monitor, therefore,
has an important role and a unique opportunity to promote healthful meals and
snacks, while impacting the overall quality of care for children in the FDCH
Child care professionals involved in FDCHs often view the monitor's
role as a necessary component of the program's success. According to Dombro
and Midigliani (1995), FDCH providers value the monitor's role as a mentor for
enhancing their knowledge of the CACFP. Providers also indicate that FDCH monitors
understand the training needs of the providers, as well as what strategies constitute
effective training. Sponsor monitors play an invaluable role in the overall
success of FDCHs because of their direct contact with the FDCH provider and
the regulatory knowledge they possess.
Work has been done in identifying the job functions for school food and nutrition
directors and managers who operate within the guidelines of the National School
Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program (Sneed & While, 1993; Gregoire
& Sneed, 1994). To date, researchers have not studied the specific job duties
associated with the performance of the sponsor monitor overseeing FDCHs operating
within the guidelines of the CACFP.
The purpose of this study was to address that void by determining
crucial job duties and training needs of monitors, and comparing any differences
in opinions between sponsoring organization directors and sponsor monitors about
these job duties and training needs. In addition, the study set out to identify
characteristics of organizations sponsoring FDCHs participating in the CACFP,
their directors, and their monitors. This information can assist in the development
of competencies, knowledge, and skills needed to form the basis of training
curricula for monitors employed by approved sponsoring organizations to oversee
FDCHs involved in the CACFP. The researchers followed research protocol and
survey instruments approval procedures established by the Human Subjects Protection
Review Committee (HSPRC) at The University of Southern Mississippi, in accordance
with Federal Drug Administration regulation (21 CFR 26,111), Department of Health
and Human Services (45 CFR Part 46).
The development of two survey instruments began with the analysis of
sponsor monitor job descriptions used by sponsoring organizations participating
in the CACFP. To collect a national sampling of job descriptions, researchers
contacted state agency child nutrition directors representing 50 states, the
District of Columbia, and three U.S. territories to provide a listing of child
care organizations sponsoring the CACFP. Thirty-two state agency child nutrition
directors responded to the initial request; these represented seven USDA regions
and 521 sponsoring organizations.
A proportional random sample with a minimum of two and maximum
of four sponsoring organizations per state (n=94) was conducted. In states with
3 to 10 sponsoring organizations, two sponsoring organizations were randomly
selected. In states with 11 to 20 sponsoring organizations, three sponsoring
organizations were randomly selected. And in states with more than 20 sponsoring
organizations, four sponsoring organizations were randomly selected. The directors
of the 94 sponsoring organizations were contacted by U.S. mail to provide researchers
with a job description used by the organization for the monitor position. The
sampling procedure generated a 35% rate of return (n=33). Researchers made a
thorough review of the 33 job descriptions, developing a listing of job duties
and identifying potential training needs. The information provided the foundation
for two preliminary survey instruments, one for the sponsoring organization
director and one for the sponsor monitor.
Researchers convened a panel of CACFP experts to perform a content
validation procedure on the overall job duties and training needs of monitors,
and demographic questions identified on the preliminary survey instruments.
The panel of experts represented sponsoring organization directors, monitors,
and a state agency FDCH administrator. The panel members were selected based
on their job role and geographic representation (Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana,
Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Washington,).
Through group consensus, the overall objective of the expert panel was to validate
the survey instruments for content. The panel also evaluated readability, clarity,
and ease of completing the survey instruments.
Agreement on two survey instruments was finalized through a group
consensus process, one for sponsoring organizations by directors and another
for sponsor monitors. Part I of each instrument addressed the frequency and
importance of the 94 job duties performed by monitors in relation to the CACFP.
Each job duty received two ratings: "How Often" and "How Important."
Both directors and monitors were asked to rate how often monitors currently
performed job duties. This rating was performed using a 5-point Likert-type
scale (never, occasionally, monthly, weekly, and daily). To ensure clarity in
the scale, "occasionally" was defined as "less than monthly."
Both groups surveyed also were asked to rate each job duty on how important
to current job. Importance was rated using a 4-point Likert-type scale (not
important, somewhat important, important, and very important). In Part II of
both surveys, respondents were asked to identify the top five training needs
for sponsor monitors from a list of 50 predetermined job functions. Part III
was designed to capture the demographics specific to each group surveyed.
State agency child nutrition directors in 50 states, the District of
Columbia, and U.S. territories were contacted a second time for an updated mailing
list of sponsoring organizations operating within the CACFP. All 54 agencies
responded to the request, providing researchers with the entire population of
sponsoring organizations (n=1,045). The researchers sent a mail survey, cover
letter, and postage-paid envelope to each sponsoring organization director (n=1,045).
In addition, each director was sent two monitor surveys, with cover letters
and postage-paid envelopes (n=2,090). The cover letters informed all respondents
of the purpose of the study, asked for their voluntary participation, and assured
them of anonymity of responses.
The sponsoring organization directors were asked to give the
monitor surveys to two sponsor monitors in their employment who they considered
effective in their job. Sponsoring organization directors employing only one
monitor were instructed to have one monitor survey completed and disregard the
second monitor survey. Directors employed by small sponsoring organizations,
who functioned in both the director and monitor role, were instructed to complete
the director's survey and disregard the two monitor surveys.
All data analyses used programs and routines of SPSS version 10.0. Researchers
compiled means and product rankings for Part I of the surveys. The product ranking
for Part I was determined by multiplying the "How Often" raw scores
times the "How Important" raw scores for each survey item. Therefore,
the product was a function of frequency of performance and importance. Duties
with the highest product ranking would be those that are both very important
to sponsor monitors and are performed daily. Conversely, the lowest-ranked
job duties are those rated as not important, and those that were never
performed. Most ratings fell somewhere in the middle of these two extremes,
but by using the product of the two rankings, the researchers were able to weight
importance ratings by the frequency of performance, giving emphasis to the job
duties most important for curriculum development and training. Frequencies and
percentages were performed for Part II (training needs) and Part III (demographics).
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
Demographic Characteristics of Survey Respondents
Table 1 presents
the program and personal demographics for sponsor monitors. A majority of sponsor
monitors (58%) responded that they were earning an hourly wage of $10 or greater.
Fifty percent of those responding were employed 40 hours or more per week. A
larger majority (73%) had been employed in the child care business for six years
or more and 40% had worked in the CACFP one to five years. Sixty-five percent
(n=306) of sponsor monitors responded that they had oversight of 100 or fewer
FDCH providers. The age range for sponsor monitors (47%) was 41 to 55 years.
The majority of monitors (51%) reported they had an associate's degree or greater.
Of those reporting to have a college degree, 15% indicated it was in the area
of early childhood education, while 8% responded to having a degree in food
and nutrition. The number one benefit provided to monitors was health insurance.
Eighty-four percent indicated that they regularly attended CACFP state-offered
The majority of the directors surveyed (80%) indicated they were
employed in private, non-profit sponsoring organizations. Fifty-one percent
of the sponsoring organization directors reported that they
employed one to two monitors. For this group of directors, 31% indicated that
materials in multiple languages were provided for multilingual staff.
The number of FDCH providers associated with the sponsoring organization ranged
from 1 to 3,847, with 50.2% of sponsoring organizations associated with up to
Responding directors were well-educated professionals, with 60%
holding a minimum of a bachelor's degree. Twenty-nine percent of those with
a bachelor's degree or higher identified their area of study as early childhood
education, family-child studies, or child development. These child care professionals
(71%) have worked in the child care business for more than 10 years, and 51%
have worked with the CACFP for 10 years or more. They ranged in age from 41
to 55 (61%).
Sponsor Monitors' Job Duties
A total of 349 of sponsoring organization directors responded for a
33% rate of return. At least 21% of sponsor monitors responded to the survey
questionnaire, or 1.4 per participating organization. Principal component factor
analysis with varimax rotation of all factors with eigenvalues greater than
one generated 11 factors for the director and monitor data, explaining 72% of
the variance for the director data and 70% of the variance for the monitor data,
as related to job duties of sponsor monitors. An expert panel reviewed the survey
findings that validated that the 11 factors logically grouped into four functional
categories: Training and Technical Assistance, Meal Service, Administrative
Duties, and Professional Behavior and Development.
The researchers selected the top 50 job functions based on statistical
frequencies. The top 50 job functions as perceived by role incumbents were determined
by the product rank score of "How Often" sponsor monitors currently
perform the job and "How Important" the function or duty is to their
current job. There was 96% agreement between the directors and monitors on the
top 50 job duties and 100% agreement on the top five job duties for sponsor
monitors between the two groups surveyed; however, the order varied slightly.
Directors ranked compliance with policies and procedures and following federal,
state, and local regulations as second and third, respectively. The monitors
reversed this order in their ratings. Means and standard deviations of the top
50 job duties/functions for the sponsor monitor are presented in descending
order based on product score in Table
Training Needs of Sponsor Monitors
Nearly 44% of the sponsoring organization directors and 38.7% of the
sponsor monitors responded that program regulations/requirements were the number
one training need for those employed as a sponsor monitor for FDCHs. The top
20 training needs for sponsor monitors as perceived by both groups surveyed
are presented in Table 3
in descending order by directors' ratings.
Results indicate that monitors have a desire to receive training
regarding CACFP regulations and program accountability issues. Because monitors
function as the direct link with the child care provider, they indicated more
strongly than directors the need for training in the areas that have direct
influence with the child care provider in improving program quality (dealing
with problem providers, menu planning for meals and snacks, introducing new
food to children, food safety procedures, planning affordable meals, infant
and toddler menu planning, developing computer skills, and cooking with children).
CONCLUSIONS AND APPLICATIONS
Sponsor monitors play a vital role in assuring a successful and
quality FDCH, operating within the guidelines of the CACFP. The monitor often
walks a delicate tightrope, balancing the demands of the job to represent the
sponsoring organization while training, mentoring, and providing general oversight
for the FDCH provider managing an in-home child care business. It is the monitor's
leadership and technical support that assist the provider in assuring quality
nutritional care for the children served in the program.
Results of this study suggest that sponsor monitors perform job
duties beyond what is expected through CACFP regulations, and that sponsoring
organization directors and monitors are in high agreement with the job duties
and training needs of sponsor monitors. These findings are reassuring to those
providing and receiving monitor training. Training and development professionals
are advised to partner with CACFP agencies who oversee FDCH providers at the
state and regional levels to develop and provide training materials based on
the findings of this study. The opportunity to partner in this effort would
lead to maximum program benefits and a more efficient use of federal, state,
and local monies.
We recommend that the first consideration for training should
focus on the top five training needs identified (program regulation/requirements,
dealing with problem providers, record keeping/documentation, techniques for
recruiting new providers, and meal pattern requirements). Although training
may be a vital resource for an organization, the chosen approach may not meet
monitors' learning needs. Therefore, training professionals are advised to incorporate
adult learning techniques, since 60% of the monitors reported their age as 41
years or older.
Findings of this study suggest that the role of a sponsor monitor
for FDCHs includes performance in multiple functional areas. Meeting these diverse
needs raises questions as to how to best plan educational and training programs.
By involving monitors and directors of sponsoring organizations in identifying
the job duties performed by monitors on FDCH, the results of this research can
serve as the basis for the development of competencies, knowledge, and skills
for FDCH sponsor monitors. This can lead to the establishment nutrition integrity
standards of practice for sponsoring organizations participating in the CACFP.
This publication has been produced by NFSMI, Applied Research
Division, located at the University of Southern Mississippi, with headquarters
at The University of Mississippi. Funding for NFSMI has been provided with federal
funds from USDA/FNS and The University of Mississippi. The contents of this
publication do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of The University
of Mississippi or USDA, nor does the mention of trade names, commercial products,
or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. government.
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Carr is research scientist, Applied Research Division,
National Food Service Management Institute, The University of Southern Mississippi,
Hattiesburg, MS. Conklin is associate professor, School of Hotel, Restaurant,
and Recreation Management, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park,