Program helping mothers going high-tech

Aug. 12, 2014 @ 06:57 PM

A program that has helped women and their small children for 40 years will embrace 21st century technology starting next week.

Guilford County’s Women & Infant Children agency will begin phasing in a new electronic benefit processing system Monday. The computerized system will replace a 30-year-old paper-based system.
Guilford County is part of a group of counties in North Carolina that will begin using the new technology next week as the electronic benefits processing program, known as Crossroads, is implemented in stages across the state.
“We’ve received feedback from counties that the system is working well so far,” said Kevin Howell, legal communications coordinator with the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services in Raleigh. 
WIC clients will receive the same benefits, but the goal is to process information needed to assist women and their children in a more efficient fashion, said Rebecca Gilliland, county WIC nutrition program director.
“The goal is to improve our efficiency and client service delivery,” she told The High Point Enterprise. “As we get used to it and learn the system, we don’t anticipate any delay in service to our participants.”
Quicker processing of benefits through Crossroads should allow a nutritionist to spend more time with a mother providing guidance about proper diet for her and her children, Gilliland said.
WIC is a nutrition program for low-income pregnant women, as well as mothers with children up to age 5, Gilliland said.
In addition to providing food vouchers, WIC offers mothers nutrition education and guidance on breast feeding.
The new computerized system won’t change the amount of food vouchers received by a WIC client. But the vouchers turned out by the Crossroads program will have a different appearance than the current ones, Gilliland said.
“Everything is still confidential — nothing like that changes,” she said.
Guilford County is the fourth-largest WIC program in the state. The county WIC program is funded to serve 13,545 mothers and children monthly, Gilliland said.
The county WIC program receives $2 million in annual federal funding through the U.S. Department of Agriculture for training, equipment, salaries and other administrative expenses. The state of North Carolina covers the annual cost of food vouchers, which amounts to $12 million annually, Gilliland said.
“We have over 100 vendors in this county that accept the WIC food vouchers,” she said. | 888-3528

Call for assistance
For more information about the Women & Infant Children program in Guilford County, call the High Point WIC office at 641-7571.