What is the Wayne County WIC Program?
The Wayne Co. Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program is a supplemental nutrition program funded by the USDA and ODH. The WIC program services income eligible pregnant, breastfeeding, and postpartum women, infants, and children up to 5 years of age.
The goals of the Ohio Department of Health, in releasing funds for the WIC program, are to improve the health status and prevent health problems within this population. This is accomplished through
- provision of a health and diet screening.
- individual and group nutrition education sessions, breastfeeding education, and support.
- referral to prenatal and pediatric healthcare and other maternal and child health and human services programs.
- provision of supplemental and nutritious foods, such as cereal, eggs, milk, and whole grain foods, fruits and vegetables, and iron fortified infant formula.
- Breastfeeding promotion, education, and support.
Supplemental foods are provided through the use of the WIC Nutrition Card (WNC) that can be used throughout the state at vendors under contract with the State WIC progam. Wayne County WIC works in conjunction with several Wayne County grocers and one pharmacy for special orders. Wayne County WIC currently serves approximately 2,000 participants per month.
What are WIC Eligibility Criteria?
WIC is available to pregnant and postpartum women, breastfeeding mothers, infants, and children up to age five who meet the following criteria:
- Be a resident of Ohio. Migrant workers are eligible to apply while they reside in the state.
- Be at medical or nutritional risk. The assessment of nutrition risk is made at no cost to the participant by a nutritionist or other certified health professional in the local WIC office.
- Have family income that does not exceed 185 percent of the U.S. Poverty Income
Guidelines. A person currently receiving Medicaid, Temporary Assistance for Needy
Families (TANF), or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) automatically meets the income eligibility requirement regardless of actual gross income.
What is the Length of Eligibility?
- Pregnant women are certified for their entire pregnancy typically through the end of the month in which they are due.
- Breastfeeding women are certified every six months and may be eligible up to twelve monthspostpartum.
- Non-breastfeeding postpartum women are certified up to six months postpartum.
- Infants are certified after birth and every six months up to their first birthday.
- Children are certified every six months up to five years of age; they are no longer eligible after their fifth birthday.
Who Can Refer Applicants to WIC?
- Potential participants schedule an appointment by calling (330) 264-1942.
- Any health care provider may refer potentially income eligible patients where the common goal is to improve maternal and child health. By referring potentially eligible patients to this local WIC office, they are providing a valuable service for their patients. The patients who participate in WIC will receive professional nutrition services such as nutrition education and breastfeeding support, as well as highly nutritious supplemental foods.
- Any social service agency may also refer potentially income eligible clients where, again, the common goal is to improve maternal and child health.
What Services are Provided?
Nutrition education is available to all adult WIC participants or parents or caregivers of child and/or infant participants. Whenever possible, child participants also receive nutrition education. The goals of nutrition education are
- to teach the relationship between proper nutrition and good health.
- to achieve a positive change in the food consumption habits related to the participant's nutritional risk.
- to promote the optimal use of WIC supplemental foods and other nutritious foods.
- to provide nutrition education within the context of the ethnic and cultural preferences of the participant. Consideration is always given to the participant's language, educational background, and environmental limitations.
Twice a month hands-on classes are offered for children 2-5 years old to engage them in the food/nutrition process as well as to provide families with healthy recipes and food ideas that children will eat. Monthly classes are also offered for moms with infants ready to start solids as well as a class for infants beginning to explore table foods and drinking from a cup. All classes are available to WIC participants and are a 30-45 minute commitment. These are not a series but a one-time class.
Breastfeeding Promotion and Support
Breastfeeding promotion and support are integral parts of the WIC program. WIC is striving to increase the incidence and duration of breastfeeding among women enrolled in the program. Wayne County WIC established a full-time Breastfeeding Department in April 2010. A Breastfeeding Coordinator and Breastfeeding Peer Helpers are trained to assist mothers in making informed decisions about infant feeding and assisting mothers with breastfeeding concerns or questions. Breast feeding classes are offered twice a month to WIC participants. This class is taught by an RN who is also a Certified Lactation Counselor and includes information on every aspect of breastfeeding to help participants in making a decision on breastfeeding. One-on-one or individual education is also available for those who are unable to attend a class or prefer a more personal experience.
There are currently four Certified Lactation Counselors on staff at Wayne County WIC. They are here daily to answer any questions moms may have either during pregnancy or after baby arrives.
In addition, breast pumps and other breastfeeding aids are also available. An enhanced food package is available for participants who are exclusively breastfeeding their babies and not receiving infant formula from WIC.
Immunization Assessment and Referral
Linkage of WIC and immunization services has been shown to improve the immunization status of WIC participants. Infants and children in the WIC population are targeted for immunization coverage. Infant and child participants' immunization records are entered into the Statewide Immunization Information System, and the participant is given a computer-generated list of the individual's shot history and shots due. Individuals listed with any post-due shots are referred to their immunization provider.
Nutritious Supplemental Foods
WIC provides highly nutritious supplemental foods that are rich in protein, iron, calcium, and vitamins A and C. These are key nutrients commonly lacking in the diets of the WIC target population.
In accordance with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) guidelines, WIC strongly encourages and provides support for breastfeeding. WIC recognizes that breastfeeding is the best method of infant feeding and nurturing. However, formula-fed infants may receive the WIC contract brand of iron fortified formula for the first year of life.
Baby FoodBeginning at six months of age, infants may also receive iron fortified infant cereal and baby fruits and vegetables. Amounts of formula provided per month will decrease as these complementary foods are added. Exclusively breastfed infants will also receive strained baby meats. Non-contract and special formulas are available with a doctor's prescription and other appropriate documentation.
How Does WIC Work?
Adult participants and/or child/infant participants with their parent or caregiver meet with a healthcare professional every six months to review their dietary habits and any medical conditions. Their nutritional status is evaluated through a health history provided by the participant or parent/guardian, a brief dietary assessment, and discussion. Based on this evaluation, mutually agreed upon goals for improvement are set.
Nutrition Counseling/Education. WIC provides nutrition education and counseling to pregnant women, new mothers, infants, and children. The main focus of the nutrition education program is prevention and improvement of the health status. Individuals learn about their specific nutritional needs and the nutrients necessary during pregnancy and lactation. New mothers receive information and guidance in feeding the infant and preschooler through all stages of development.
Counseling is also targeted toward identified nutritional issues such as anemia, growth problems, inappropriate weight in pregnancy, special feeding programs, etc. Every effort is made to provide culturally appropriate counseling in the participant's own language.
WIC participants receive specified foods prescribed to meet their individual needs. WIC foods are high in protein, calcium, iron, and vitamins A and C.
Improved Access to Health Care Services
The WIC program encourages earlier and more frequent utilization of other health care systems. It refers and coordinates with other services, such as immunizations and well child clinics, prenatal programs, drug and alcohol treatment programs, Medicaid, etc., to assist participants in knowing where and how to obtain health care. Information and referrals for other social services are made routinely.