Allies for Children is a proud partner of Pennsylvania’s new campaign, Thriving PA, to expand access to high-quality services for our prenatal-to-age-three population. The first three years of life are a period of incredible growth in all areas of a baby’s development.
Along with local and statewide partners, Allies for Children is striving to improve health outcomes and food security for women and young children by advocating for the modernization and financial stability of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) in Pennsylvania. Through Thriving PA’s work related to WIC, advocates – led by Allies for Children – developed a policy brief outlining recommendations to policymakers and the Department of Health on improvements to reverse declining participation in Pennsylvania’s WIC program. From 2016 to 2020, WIC enrollment declined by 21% or 50,000 enrollees in Pennsylvania. Continued declines in enrollment impact the amount of federal funding Pennsylvania receives, fueling a downward spiral of fewer resources for WIC agencies to engage and serve families who need this crucial program.
Recommendations in the brief include:
- Technology improvements, including keeping benefits from implementing telehealth provisions through the pandemic, and developing a mobile app.
- Coordination and partnerships through strategies like co-location of WIC clinics with other critical services like birthing hospitals and health centers, and implementing adjunctive eligibility – streamlining applications when a family is already eligible for benefits like Medicaid and SNAP.
- Certification, eligibility, and targeted outreach efforts, including examining policies included in current federal legislation to extend postpartum eligibility to two years and extending infant certification to a two-year period.
- Improved outreach to immigrant populations, who experienced a chilling effect around federal nutrition programs in recent years.
Together with our partner advocates in the Thriving PA campaign, Allies for Children looks forward to working with the Department of Health and policymakers at the state and federal levels to increase WIC participation in Pennsylvania ensuring more women, infants, and children have the opportunity to thrive!