by Jerry Owens and Sylvia Mitchem, Program Managers
Famous playwright George Bernard Shaw said, “Progress is impossible without change.” Shaw’s quote is a perfect summation of the pending transformation to the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition program and the changes on the horizon.
As we discussed in an earlier blog post, the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010 mandates all state WIC programs implement electronic benefits transfer (EBT) for all WIC benefits by 2020. This change is dramatic since only 14 of the nation’s 90 WIC agencies are fully EBT operational, but it really is necessary for evolution.
Federal funding for implementation of WIC EBT has increased over the last few years after a period of little to no funding because of federal budget cuts. This increased technology funding, along with the upcoming mandate, has created an environment of high activity surrounding WIC EBT. Agencies now have the motivation and the means to adopt these changes.
That’s one of the reasons we’re so excited about the upcoming National WIC Association Annual Conference in Los Angeles. We want to discuss the transformation process with WIC agencies and hear about their pain points so we can ease any tension they are feeling. We have experience overcoming obstacles that result from a paper-based system changing into an electronic solution and can help. The new WIC EBT solution does more than digitize inefficient processes; it’s an opportunity to improve the entire process from start to finish.
From those making the change so far, it seems WIC agencies are either adopting a fast implementation of the core system or a more elaborate custom solution requiring the duplication of functionality in many forms. Agencies should be aware that duplications could add unnecessary expense and time to the implementation. Core solution offerings may be a better option as they are less expensive, can be employed more quickly and operate with a higher degree of ongoing reliability.
The following steps will help states develop a cost effective solution that can be implemented in as few as 12 months:
- Review the core solution offerings available.
- Track those offerings back to your requirements and note any gaps that are present.
- Create an RFP based on your core solution needs, filling in any gaps with requirements for specific functionality.
By implementing an online solution, agencies will realize faster settlement, accurate reporting, approved product compliance, effective cost containment, and more efficient special formula ordering and distribution.
See you in L.A.!