CWA partners with breastfeeding advocates all over the state to draw attention to the stark health inequities caused by inadequate breastfeeding support policies in many California hospitals. We seek policy reforms through local organizing, administrative and legislative advocacy.Learn More
BEYOND CASELOAD: Asking Tough QuestionsLaurie True - October 02, 2014 Everybody knows that WIC caseloads have been declining in most regions of the state, not to mention nationwide (see our updated Blog about this, below). A good portion of the drop in participation is outside of WIC’s control: lower birth rates, an improving economy, and slowing immigration are key factors. Even with these realities, there is still a lot of soul-searching among WIC providers about why participants aren’t coming in and what can be done about it.
Soul-searching can painful – but it’s a healthy thing to periodically ask tough questions about what we are doing in WIC, and why we do it. How can we quickly modernize and streamline program operations to keep up with the aspirations and expectations of the “Millennial” generation? Should we go where they are instead of waiting for them to come where we are? How can our customer service be further improved to protect our brand and further our appeal?
The reality is, over 1.3 million needy participants are still coming through our doors in California, and we can still make a huge difference in their lives, by focusing on quality instead of quantity. Defining quality WIC services should include looking closely at customer access and satisfaction, setting best practice standards in the delivery of nutrition services, and seeking cost-saving operational efficiencies.
California WIC is in the midst of a long-term dialogue about the creation of new performance standards, evaluation criteria and how to measure them. Over the longer term, recognizing and rewarding improved clinical outcomes is not unthinkable. Our Fall Management Conference and upcoming WIC Watch magazine will help you understand the context of the reforms sweeping through public health and WIC in California.
What tough questions are YOU asking?
Caseload is Dropping – Why? (Updated)Laurie True - October 02, 2014
The California WIC caseload is dropping, and that largely is as it should be. Like Calfresh (food stamps), the WIC program responds to economic changes, with participation expanding during economic downturns and contracting when the economy recovers and circumstances improve for WIC families. Although California’s recovery from the Great Recession was far slower than the rest of the country, jobs are slowly coming back: in June, unemployment dipped to 7.4%, the lowest figure in six years.
Since we serve about 63% of all babies born here, California’s birth rates are an important predictor of WIC caseload, and birth rates are sharply down. One result of economic distress is a decline in the birth rate -- when you’re out of work and running out of money, having a baby doesn’t make much sense. That’s what happened during the Great Recession: there were 64,000 fewer babiesborn in 2011 than there were in 2007 (see county stats and future-year projections). You’ve probably read that the number of babies born in the US fell to the lowest rate ever recorded. Moreover, the birth rate fell much faster among immigrant women, who make up a large part of our WIC caseload. Even as the birth rate begins to climb again, it will take time for the “recession cohort” to work its way through WIC.
Immigration also plays a role in WIC participation, andREAD MORE