A month-long look at the WIC Program

Published: March 08, 2013

Health CarePolicy and LegislationSocial Services

This month, the Deltek health care and social services team will be taking a look at the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, also known as the WIC Program. WIC, administered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Nutrition Services (FNS), provides health care and nutrition for low-income pregnant women, breastfeeding women, and infants and children under the age of five.


The eligibility requirement for WIC is a family income below 185 percent of the U.S. Poverty Income Guidelines. The program served 8.9 million people in FY 2012, with the average annual food cost at $45 a month. Unlike other social services programs, WIC is not an entitlement program, as Congress does not set aside funds to allow every eligible individual to participate in the program. Only a specific amount of funds is authorized each year for the program.


Numerous studies have shown that pregnant women who participate in WIC have longer pregnancies that lead to: fewer premature births; fewer low and very low birth weights; fewer fetal and infant deaths; prenatal care sought earlier in pregnancy; and higher consumption of key nutrients such as iron, protein, calcium, and vitamins A and C.


According to research by West Virginia’s WIC Program, every dollar spent on pregnant women in WIC produces $1.92 to $4.21 in Medicaid savings for newborns and their mothers. Medicaid costs were reduced, on average, between $12,000 and $15,000 for every very low birth weight incident prevented by participation in WIC.


In most states, WIC is delivered by the state through its WIC management information system (MIS), which typical functions include certification, nutrition referral, food management, benefit issuance, financial management, case load management, operations management, vendor management, scheduling, system administration, and reporting. Electronic benefits transfer (EBT) is now mandated for the program by FY 2020; states are either pursuing an online or offline EBT card.


The WIC Program showed one of the earliest forms of technology replication across states, with the State Agency Model (SAM) project starting in 2004. The Office of Management and Budget began a five-year initiative to plan, develop, and deploy WIC MISs that had the following features:

  • Modern Web (HTML/HTTP) technology
  • Standard WIC data elements
  • Open-system architecture
  • Modular components
  • Compliance with federal policy and regulations

Stay tuned this month to see WIC MIS and EBT updates from across the states. In the meantime, brush up on WIC knowledge through our social services vertical profile application! Not a Deltek subscriber? Click here to learn more about Deltek’s GovWin IQ database and take advantage of a free trial.