Families worried about cuts in the benefits they receive from the Women, Infants and Children program-or WIC-can now heave a sigh of relief after the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. was given an assurance from the granting agency that funding will remain available to eligible clients in the CNMI.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture notified the corporation on Thursday that funding for the WIC program will remain available and uncut for the CNMI in fiscal year 2013, which begins today.
USDA regional director for supplemental nutrition programs in the western region, Rich Proulx, formally relayed the message to corporation CEO Juan N. Babauta in a Sept. 27 letter.
“This confirms that the CNMI will continue to receive federal WIC food and nutrition services and administration (NSA) grants in FY 2013,” Proulx told Babauta.
The WIC program is a federally funded supplemental nutrition program for women, infants and children up to 5 years old. It is being administered by the healthcare corporation and has hundreds of families being served.
Saipan Tribune learned that the CNMI-WIC chapter was opened in August 2007 and had since helped the CNMI not only in serving the eligible population but also by creating jobs.
According to Proulx, nothing should change or reduce in the services provided to program clients unless there would be reduction in this fiscal year's budget for WIC program.
“We recommend that state agencies plan on receiving funding similar to the amounts received in FY 2012, and refrain from taking actions at this time that could result in limiting access and reduced program participation. Should funding be cut or reduced, the CNMI-WIC program will be given notice in order to plan accordingly for the entire or remainder of the fiscal year,” stated Proulx.
The federal official described his letter to Babauta as “proof of funds availability and allow the CNMI to conduct its business throughout the fiscal year without interruption.”
Saipan Tribune learned that the corporation is receiving $5.6 million in annual WIC grant.
A 36-year-old mother of a newborn from Chalan Kiya yesterday expressed relief upon hearing the good news. She described the services and benefits she receives from the program as helpful and important to keep her and her newborn healthy at all times.
“With the ongoing financial challenges that we have, this piece of news is a relief for me and my baby. I do hope that feds will continue to provide the necessary help for us, because they're helping the future of this island,” the mother told Saipan Tribune yesterday.
The mother added that under the WIC program, she had received not only healthy products for her baby but most importantly the necessary guidance, counseling, and healthcare service they need.