Crossroads making WIC better in Rowan
Rowan County kicked off the new statewide computerized system Sept. 22 for income-eligible women seeking to receive federal food assistance benefits under the WIC Program, said Shanelle Wilkey, director of the WIC Program for Rowan County.
Crossroads is a WIC Management Information System which is 100 percent federally funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Services (FNS). North Carolina was selected to be the leading state of a four-state consortium consisting of North Carolina, Alabama, Virginia and West Virginia to develop the new WIC Management Information System because it has the most participants using WIC. It is replacing an outdated system created in 1984 that relied heavily on paperwork. Once fully implemented, Crossroads will save approximately 762,000 pages of paper.
WIC is the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program founded in 1968 and stands for Women, Infants and Children. It is not to be confused with food stamps, which is a separate program and supported by the Department of Social Services. North Carolina’s WIC program helps low-income families meet the nutritional needs of pregnant and post-partum women, infants and children up to age 5 and currently serves an average of 270,000 participants in the state each month — the largest in the nation. “While adding healthy foods to these families’ diets is an important part of our program, participants get more than foods from WIC,” Wilkey said. “WIC offers families nutrition education and counseling, breastfeeding promotion and support, supplemental foods, and even healthcare referrals to about 3,225 income-eligible women and children each month in Rowan County.”
Although WIC applications from prospective participants will continue to take place in an in-person interview with local agency staff at Rowan County Health Department, the NC Crossroads WIC System promises to streamline the application process and make receiving benefits much easier. Crossroads features include state-wide search capabilities, easy in-state and out-of-state participant transfers, electronic signature collection, automatic income calculations, automatic plotting of anthropometric data, and an electronic care plan. According to the state’s website announcing the program, other benefits the Crossroads system will provide besides easier scheduling will be a reduction in paperwork and errors, fewer questions at check-in for prospective participants and easier certification. “By having this system in place, it will save time during the eligibility process and allow for more time to be spent with the participant providing nutrition education and breastfeeding promotion and support,” Wilkey said.
“This is a much needed change,” Wilkey said. “The Rowan County WIC staff and staff at the Nutrition Services Branch have worked very hard to ensure a smooth transition. Rowan County WIC staff received a week of state mandated training in Raleigh earlier this year.”
Nina Oliver, Rowan County Public Health Director states, “Crossroads will be very beneficial and we can better serve the participants in Rowan County using this system. We are extremely excited and supportive of Crossroads.”
For more information about WIC or to make a WIC appointment at the Rowan County Health Department, please call 704-216-8777 option 4, Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.-9 a.m. For more information about NC Crossroads WIC system visit www.ncdhhs.gov/crossroads or visit the Rowan County Health Department website at www.rowancountync.gov/healthdepartment.
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