by Jerry Owens, Card Services Director, and Sylvia Mitchem, Program Manager
WIC programs across the country are buzzing with plans to implement EBT by 2020 and comply with the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010. In previous blog posts we’ve talked about the challenges WIC programs have to overcome along with tips to help the transformation run smoothly.
So can it be done? Can WIC programs implement EBT and perhaps overhaul their entire program while still supporting their current participants? The answer is a resounding yes. The Virginia and Vermont WIC programs are great examples of how online solutions can improve an entire program for WIC agencies, clinics, vendors and participants.
Can WIC programs implement EBT while still supporting their current participants? The answer is a resounding yes.
The VA WIC program is one of the largest in the country, serving 145,000 participants each month from 200 local agencies and supporting more than 850 vendors. To them, the transformation was more than just fulfilling the upcoming mandate. The VA WIC program wanted the online solution to increase conveniences to those supporting the WIC program, improve back office operations, and reduce the stigma for participants. Because EBT requires updates to the program management information system (MIS), Virginia WIC wanted to implement the MIS changes concurrently with EBT.
Through extraordinary collaboration and teamwork, Virginia WIC was the first state to implement a new state agency model (SAM) system and start issuing WIC benefits via EBT at the same time. You can read more details about the simultaneous implementation, the training conducted throughout the state and how the accelerated rollout was completed over the course of three months rather than the originally scheduled six months in this case study.
The Vermont WIC program also wanted to simultaneously implement a new SAM MIS and start issuing WIC benefits via EBT. The VT WIC program overcame challenges early on in the process when their original partner left the card services business and pulled out of the project. But we stepped in and seamlessly picked up the work and met all previously established goals and timeline.
Since the VT WIC program was also moving from home delivery to in-store redemption with an online WIC EBT solution, participants had to learn how to use the new system. Retailers – who weren’t previously involved in WIC and EBT programs – and their employees had to be educated and trained on the new process and system. You can read the full VT WIC transformation story and how the new online system streamlines nearly 9 million annual food redemptions in this case study.
These two programs are great examples of collaboration and the dedication of everyone on the team to implement online solutions to improve program operations and serve participants better.
If you’re attending the upcoming National WIC Association Technology conference in St. Louis, MO., ask us about the VA and VT WIC program transformations. We’d love to tell you more! We’ll also be previewing our new Xerox® Connect Processing Solution for WIC that helps agencies like yours make a successful transition to online WIC EBT operations.