State Advocates Happy Over Federal WIC Action

by David Gorn

TOPIC ALERT:

Action by a U.S. Senate committee has family advocates in California breathing a sigh of relief.

The Women, Infants and Children program -- which supplies food, breastfeeding services and other benefits to low-income mothers -- was included in the federal sequestration cuts, but this week the Senate appropriations committee included funding for it in an amendment to the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2013, and that means good things for the WIC program in California, according to Laurie True, executive director at the California WIC Association.

True spoke yesterday at a state budget subcommittee hearing.

"We're really happy," True said. "It passed Senate appropriations, and it's already been conferenced [with approval from both federal houses], so it looks good right now for us."

The appropriations act now goes to the U.S. Senate floor for a vote. However, she said, that reprieve only lasts till the end of the federal fiscal year, which ends in September.

"That'll take care of 2013. Then we have to worry about 2014," she said. "We've got a reprieve, and [next] there's another cliff. But right now, we just don't want to cut people off the program."

The state has finished a draft plan to reduce costs in the WIC program, according to Christine Nelson, acting chief of the WIC program in California for the Department of Public Health, who spoke at yesterday's hearing.

"In late February, we briefed [federal officials] on the changes, and we are awaiting official comment so we can submit a final plan," Nelson said.


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