If there are four members in your family and you made less than $22,350 in 2011, according to the Federal Government, you are below the "Poverty level."
Regrettably you are not alone. In Yavapai County there are 26,118 people in this boat with you. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, over 26,000 people didn't make enough money to provide their families the essential resources they needed.
Now think for a moment about a family who just found out they are pregnant, with their second child, and surviving on $429 a week. Will the children have enough food to eat? Will it be healthy food? Are their ways to save money while insuring their baby doesn't go hungry? This may not be your story but in this poor economy, these questions are on the minds of more and more parents, and it doesn't take much looking to see this every day.
Thankfully, in Yavapai County there are resources for families in just this situation. Unfortunately, many young families don't know these services exist or even how to look for them. WIC (Women, Infants and Children) provides support to low-income pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding women, infants and children up to age 5 who are at "nutrition risk." This service provides nutritious foods, nutrition education (including breastfeeding promotion and support) and referrals to health and other social services to participants, at no charge. Many of the WIC staff members have had children of their own and truly understand the needs of new moms. WIC personnel work very hard at maintaining and developing new skills and certifications to better serve their clients. Karleen Acosta is just one WIC staff member who has continued to demonstrate her dedication through her ongoing education.
Karleen Acosta, a 23-year employee of WIC, has lived in Yavapai County for the past 43 years and works tirelessly to improve the nutrition and health status of low-income women, infants and pre-school children who are at-risk. She recently received her certification as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). The IBCLC credential identifies a knowledgeable and experienced member of the WIC team who has specialized skills in breastfeeding management and care.
If you are wondering who pays for WIC and if it is worth the money, here is some information to help you decide:
According to a recent report put out by National WIC Association, preterm births cost the U.S. over $26 billion a year. The average first year medical cost for premature/low weight baby is $49,033 compared to $4,551 for a baby without complications.
Studies have shown that 4 and 5 year olds, whose mothers participated in WIC, have better vocabulary test scores than those whose mothers had not received WIC benefits.
Participation in WIC has been shown to reduce the risk of child abuse and neglect.
It costs approximately $743 a year for a pregnant woman to receive WIC benefits. WIC officials have stated "we know that for every $1 spent on a pregnant woman, up to $4.21 is saved on Medicaid."
For the first 8 months of 2011, states reported average monthly participation just below 9 million.
For fiscal year 2011, Congress appropriated $6.734 billion for WIC, most of which is used to employ thousands of people throughout the United States, support moms and their new babies, and to purchase food from local grocery stores and farmers markets. Approximately 91 percent of every dollar spent goes right back into the local economy.
If you or someone you know is pregnant, or has recently had a child, please know there are people and resources available to provide nutrition assistance for those families with a new mouth to feed.
For more information about WIC, or any other Yavapai County Health Service, call 928-771-3122 or go online at www.YavapaiHealth.com