Clock Ticking for Many Women, Infants, and Children


If the federal government is shut down much longer, a program providing vital nutrition assistance to nearly 9 million infants, young children, and mothers could come to a standstill for lack of funds.

Even with the partial government shutdown, many important government programs are able to keep running. This is either through the vagaries of the budget process or by the dedication of essential workers who will temporarily work without pay. However, other programs that have been deemed “non-essential” to health and safety, and, lacking funds, will stop providing benefits and services either immediately or within the next month. The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, or WIC, is one such program.

In 2011, WIC served nearly nine million pregnant women, new mothers, and children under five each month, and a total of 14 million over the entire year. WIC is not an entitlement program. A certain level of funding is determined by Congress, and that money is used to serve as many eligible applicants as possible, prioritizing those most at risk. In recent years, the program has been able to serve all eligible applicants, but no money has yet been allocated for the current fiscal year. Although it is federally funded, and is monitored by the U. S. Department of Agriculture, the program is administered by states and other sub-national governments (such as American Indian tribes).i According to the Washington Post, these state and local administrators have the funds to continue the program for a month, at most, without additional federal funds, and some don’t have enough for even a week. More-recent reports, though, indicate that all states should have sufficient funding to continue the WIC program to the end of October.

Source: Child Trends

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