Sneak Preview: FNS Urged To Review WIC Monitoring Results

May 16, 2013 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

xgran_bookshot(The following was excerpted from an article in the Federal Grants Management Handbook.) The Food and Nutrition Service plans to review the monitoring results for state administration of the Women, Infants, and Children Program, but has yet to determine when, according to a recent Government Accountability Office report that recommended FNS set a timeline for the review.

In the report, GAO evaluated WIC eligibility determination variations among states and localities and adjunctive eligibility, a policy that deems an applicant eligible for WIC if already eligible under another federal assistance program for low-income families. GAO also evaluated program monitoring. It found that state and local government WIC income eligibility determination policies vary due to a level of discretion granted by federal laws and regulations designed to simplify the eligibility determination process. “As a result, a family may be correctly deemed income-eligible for WIC in one locality even though in another locality, the family would be considered ineligible,” it said.

Many states, for example, use an applicant’s current income to determine eligibility, yet states differ in how to define the time period to determine current income. Some states define a time period to mean income from the most recent 30 days, while other states use longer time periods. WIC program administrators also have discretion in determining which members of an applicant’s household should be considered part of the applicant’s family. State policies also differ on the sources of income that may be included in the income eligibility determination.

Under adjunctive eligibility, applicants may also be deemed income-eligible for WIC automatically if they receive benefits from Medicaid, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. GAO found that this may streamline eligibility determinations, but because programs change over time, “it is important to continually assess the effect of these program interactions.”

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