Direct Certification Program
The Arkansas Department of Education (ADE), Child Nutrition Unit (CNU), will offer direct certification for the 2000-2001 school year. This offer is open to all public schools in Arkansas that participate in the National School Lunch and/or School Breakfast Program(s).
Direct certification, as defined by USDA regulations, allows school food authorities to determine children eligible for free meals based on eligibility for food stamps. Regulations also allow a computerized list as documentation of eligibility. This list will replace the application for free meals and will eliminate the verification of applications for all children determined eligible by direct certification.
District Direct Certification Plan Required
The Child Nutrition Unit needs to establish an audit file of districts that will or will not participate in the process. All districts must submit the attached "Direct Certification Plan" form by May 15, 2000.
Categorical Eligibility Changed by Welfare Reform
In past years, students could also be directly certified for free meals based on AFDC eligibility. Federal AFDC was abolished by welfare reform and replaced by an Arkansas program. The Arkansas program, Transition Employment Assistance (TEA), has been determined to have eligibility requirements that are less restrictive than AFDC, so recipients of TEA cannot be directly certified for free meals. Many TEA recipients will also be eligible for food stamps and can be directly certified on that basis. Those who do not receive food stamps may meet the income and family size guidelines for free meals, and schools will want to encourage them to complete an application. Students in food stamp households not directly certified may be determined categorically eligible if they provide their food stamp number on the application. All other students who wish to apply must provide income and family size information.
Direct Certification Procedures
This process will provide a direct certification list for each school in the district, if a district provides the 2000-2001 required information for each school by June 9, 2000. This information is to be provided on IBM compatible 3-inch computer diskette(s). The diskette(s) must be 1.44 density. The district file may be sent by e-mail to Larry Gray at email@example.com. If a file is e-mailed, it must contain the information and be in the same layout as described in this memo.
Social Security numbers with birth dates must be accurate for each student. The social security number must belong to the student, not the student's parent. If social security numbers are not available, please use the student ID numbers provided by the Department of Education. Please make every attempt to remove any student who is no longer enrolled in the school(s), for example, graduates and transferred students. Replace quote signs " " around nicknames and street names with parentheses ( ). Quote signs should only be at the beginning of a field and at the end of the field. See example below:
INCORRECT CODING: "John"Corkey","Smith","125"G"Street","xxxxx","xxx"
CORRECT CODING: "John (Corkey)","Smith","125 G Street","xxxxx","xxx"
The file must be an ASCII file, with quotes and comma delimited. CNU, ADE cannot accept typed or handwritten listings, only diskettes and e-mail attachments.
The file that will be created from the submitted text file(s) is as follows:
*School LEA number
..A7 - Required
Must be the school the student will attend for the 2000-01 school year
Social security number
A9 - Required
A25 - Required
A25 - Required
A20 - If provided
..A20 - If provided
.A2 - If provided
..A10 - If provided
.A6 - Required
..A40 - If provided
..A2 - Required
* LEA numbers must be used to identify files. Please ensure that the LEA number is correct.
** Grade must be the level the student will be in during the 2000-2001 school year, not the grade for the current school year.
IF THE ASCII WITH QUOTES AND COMMA DELIMITED FILE DOES NOT MEET ALL OF THESE REQUIREMENTS, IT WILL NOT BE PROCESSED.
If the name field exceeds the field length, the information in that field will be shortened on the district report. Please keep in mind that only those students with valid social security numbers and valid birth dates will be used in the matching operation at the Department of Human Services. Social Security Numbers and Grades must be in fields by themselves.
Instructions for APSCN Data:
According to APSCN, the district should submit the school files that were set up in February 2000 for the 2000-01 school year. These files must be edited to eliminate graduates and transfers and ensure promotions or demotions are correct. APSCN instructions for preparation of ASCII file can be found at www.k12.ar.us: scroll down to "Documentation: Student Management Systems; click on "How To" procedures; page down to Food Services Direct Certification and click. These instructions will pertain to creating a diskette which only the District Student System Administrator has the privilege to run. The student's Social Security Number must be present in the Social Security Number field (even if the Student ID Number is used as the Social Security Number). If there are questions after receipt of the instructions, please contact the APSCN Student Help Desk at 1-800-435-7989.
After the diskette is created, please open it to make sure that it contains the records. As a precaution, please make a district copy of the file that is sent to CNU.
Please submit files PRIOR TO June 9, 2000 IF POSSIBLE. Direct Certification for the entire state requires a quick turnaround with concentrated hours of labor among three divisions of state government to complete this process so that schools receive accurate and timely data. Contact Louann Griswood at (501) 324-9502 if there are any questions regarding the direct certification process or e-mail Louann at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Return diskette(s) to:
Attn: Larry Gray
Arkansas Department of Education
Child Nutrition Unit
Executive Building, Suite 404
2020 West Third Street
Little Rock, AR 72205-4465
DO NOT SEND TO ADE BUILDING