W.I.C. Checks Withheld Because of Government Shutdown

(SIOUX CITY, IA) Some of the people who can least afford a government shutdown are now feeling the effects. Low income mothers who feed their youngsters through the W.I.C. program - which stands for Women, Infants, and Children - aren't getting their checks.

Most moms would do anything to make sure their baby is fed, but with the partial government shutdown, some moms across Iowa are wondering if they'll be able to.

"There's a certain amount of funds to be carried over in the state level, but it's a very small amount, and so based on that amount of funds each state had to determine how they were going to best deliver services in the interim. Because we want people to keep their appointments, we want them to remain on the program," said Sharon Schroeder, W.I.C. Director at the Siouxland District Health Department.

In Iowa the W.I.C. Clinics will remain open.

"All of the nutrition and assessment and counseling that goes on along with the heights and weights and the hemoglobin check, all of those basic health screenings are there along with the nutritional education and counseling," Schroeder said.

But it's those checks that have mothers really concerned.

Schroeder says depending on the child's needs, baby formula can get pretty expensive and with the government shut down, parents are really on their own when it comes to purchasing items like this, unless they get on food stamps.

She also notes taxpayers will see a difference, because every one dollar spent on W.I.C. saves between $2 and $4 in Medicaid costs.

"There are fewer low birth weight infants that have hospitalization costs that would have been much higher. There are improved prenatal nutrition, and there are improved overall childhood nutrition," said Schroeder.

One reason Schroeder says the shutdown needs to end.

"This type of a program focuses on the very innocent, the young, the beginning of life," she said. "Is that where we want to make cutbacks, at the beginning of life?"

If and when the government does re-open, Schroeder says they'll only be able to give checks to people who kept their appointments and remained active in the W.I.C. program.