WIC – Women, Infants & Children

Department of Health warns WIC participants about new potential scams

The Pennsylvania Department of Health is warning participants of the state’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) about potential scams targeting them.

According to the Department of Health, although WIC clinics do perform eligibility checks, employees will never call participants requesting banking information for direct deposit.

“The WIC program provides access to resources for mothers and children across Pennsylvania and we do not want our WIC participants worried about being taken advantage of—especially during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Sec. of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said in a press release. “We want participants to be alert, but know their information is protected and their benefits will continue to be distributed through secure means. Please be aware of potential scammers looking to steal personal information and report their number so more Pennsylvanians do not have this experience.”

If a WIC participant is unsure if a request for information is legitimate they should contact their local WIC office. Services are available by phone or virtual appointments until their county transitions into the green phase.

Contact information for your local WIC clinic can be found here.

Pennsylvanians should report scams to their local law enforcement or file a consumer complaint to the Office of the Attorney General through an online form, by calling 800-441-2555, or by email at scams@attorneygeneral.gov.

WIC 2020 Public Meetings Notice

The Pennsylvania Department of Health and Bureau of Women, Infants and Children (WIC) will be hosting their annual public meetings for the public to provide feedback on the program. All meetings will be held virtually this year. Your comments and suggestions for the WIC program are important to us!  Please attend a virtual meeting or submit written comments to the Bureau of WIC State Agency.

  • May 1, 2020, Shenango Valley Urban League, 601 Indiana Ave., Farrell, PA 16121  
  • May 4, 2020, Broad Top Area Medical Center, 900 Bryan St., Suite 2, Huntingdon, PA 16652  
  • May 4, 2020, CAP of Cambria County, 516 Main St., 6th Floor, Johnstown, PA 15901  
  • May 7, 2020, Bi-County WIC/Hope, 612 W. 4th St., Williamsport, PA 17701 
  • May 7, 2020, North Central PA Regional and Development Commission, 49 Ridgmont Drive, Ridgway, PA 15853 
  • May 12, 2020, Allegheny County Health Department, 239 4th Ave., 6th Floor, Pittsburgh, PA 15222 
  • May 12, 2020, CAP of Lancaster County, 601 S. Queen St., Room 220, Lancaster, PA 17603 
  • May 14, 2020, NORTH, Inc. Philadelphia WIC Office, 1300 W. Lehigh Ave., Suite 104, Philadelphia, PA 19132 
  • May 14, 2020, The Foundation of Delaware County, 1260 E. Woodland Ave., Suite 215, Springfield, PA 19064  
  • May 26, 2020, Family Health Council of Central PA, 1257 Columbia Blvd., Bloomsburg, PA 17815

In accordance with 7 C.F.R. §246.4(b), the Department of Health has scheduled 10 public meetings to obtain comments and recommendations for the development of the 2021 State Plan of Program Operation and Administration for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) in Pennsylvania. 

The department invites comments on all aspects of the program’s operations. 

Individuals wishing to give comments at a meeting or attend through the Zoom website are requested to pre-register by calling the State WIC Program Office at 717-783-1289. Call-in meeting information will be provided. Those unable to attend a meeting but wish to express their views, may submit written comments by May 31, 2020, to the Department of Health, Bureau of Women, Infants and Children (WIC), 625 Forster St., 7 West, Health and Welfare Building, Harrisburg, PA 17120. 

The meetings will be held 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and are subject to cancellation without notice. There will not be a WIC presentation at the meetings, but WIC resource materials will be available.  

If you require reasonable accommodations in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, please contact William Cramer at 717783-1289 for assistance.   

Pennsylvania WIC is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture. This institution is an equal opportunity provider. 

False Social Media Posts About WIC Formula

Recently, posts have been made on social media indicating that if parents cannot find formula for their children, they should call the WIC program for help, even if they are not current participants. As the WIC Nutrition program provider in Northeast Pennsylvania, Maternal & Family Health Services would like to correct that misconception. Income eligibility requirements for the program are still in effect at this time, and are available on our website. Currently, we are serving our clients in a limited capacity in order to maintain social distancing. A full breakdown of service changes due to COVID-19 is available here.

In the interest of the health and safety for all the families we serve, we ask that you please reschedule your appointment if you or anyone in your household has: 

Fever, chills, coughing, signs for respiratory illness or flu-like symptoms 

Or has recently: traveled out of the country, or to an area with widespread cases of Coronavirus, or if you have been in contact with anyone know to have the virus. 

Call 1-866-942-8463 to reschedule your WIC appointment. 

MFHS Announces Agency Wide Limited Service Delivery Due To COVID-19

For the safety of our staff and the families we serve, limited services will be available in select locations starting March 17, 2020.  A full archive of our updates regarding the COVID-19 outbreak are available here.

MFHS Family Planning Centers in Hazleton, Pottsville, Circle of Care, Scranton, and Hawley, are open for limited services.  Please contact your Family Planning Center for details.  Your provider can offer phone consultations, alternatives for visits, and additional contraceptive options if needed.     

MFHS WIC Nutrition Centers: the following WIC Nutrition Centers will be OPEN FOR LIMITED SERVICES* (see below for more details on limited WIC services): 

  • Berks County WIC Center in Reading  
  • Bradford County – Towanda WIC Center 
  • Carbon County WIC Center in Lehighton 
  • Lackawanna County – Scranton WIC, Circle of Care in Scranton, Jermyn WIC 
  • Lehigh County – Lehigh Valley WIC Center, Allentown 
  • Luzerne County – Wilkes-Barre WIC Center, Hazleton WIC Center 
  • Monroe County – East Stroudsburg WIC Center 
  • Montgomery County – Lansdale WIC Center, and Pottstown WIC Center  
  • Northampton County – Easton WIC Center 
  • Schuylkill County – Pottsville WIC Center, Shenandoah WIC Center, Tamaqua WIC Center 
  • Tioga County – Wellsboro WIC Center 
  • Wayne County – Hawley WIC Center

The following locations are CLOSED effective March 17, 2020 and until further notice 

  • Berks County – Kutztown WIC satellite 
  • Lackawanna County – Carbondale WIC satellite at the YMCA; Alder Street WIC satellite in Scranton 
  • Luzerne County – Nanticoke WIC satellite at Head Start; West Side WIC satellite at RHC in Edwardsville 
  • Monroe County – Tobyhanna WIC Center 
  • Montgomery County – Norristown WIC Center
  • Pike County – Dingmans Ferry WIC satellite 
  • Sullivan County – Sullivan County WIC satellite in LaPorte
  • Tioga County – Elkland WIC satellite at Head Start 
  • Wyoming County – Tunkhannock WIC Center

If you have an upcoming appointment at the WIC locations on the above “closed” list, you will be contacted by a WIC staff member who will provide further instructions on how to access WIC services. Please do not come to the locations listed above as they will be closed. You will be able to go to another nearby WIC Center for benefit pick up (eWIC card re-loading) appointments 

*Limited WIC services include the following:  

Benefit pick up (eWIC card re-loading) appointments  

  • These will be quick appointments to minimize time spent in the WIC Center.  
  • WIC nutritionists will be available via phone to answer your nutrition or infant and child feeding questions. 
  • Do not bring children or other family members to these appointments.  Only the endorser or proxy needs to come to the WIC Center for eWIC card re-loading.

Re-Certification appointments (appointments that require an assessment by a WIC nutritionist) 

  • Re-Certifications will be temporarily conducted over the phone.  
  • If you have this type of appointment scheduled on or after March 17, you will receive a phone call from a WIC nutritionist prior to your appointment.  
  • When you come to the WIC Center, you will only need to have your eWIC card re-loaded.  You willnotneed to bring your children for the visit. This will minimize your time in the WIC Center.

If you are not able to get to the WIC Center for eWIC card re-loading, you can designate a proxy to come to the WIC Center for you.  Please contact your WIC Center to arrange for this over the phone. 

In order to limit exposure, we ask that you please limit the number of people that you bring with you to your appointment. 

At MFHS, our goal during this crisis is to continue to provide essential WIC services in a safe and effective way.  We appreciate your continued cooperation and patience.  If you have questions regarding your appointment, please reach out directly to your WIC Center or call MFHS at 1-800-FOR-MFHS (1-800-367-6347) 

In the interest of the health and safety for all the families we serve, we ask that you please reschedule your appointment if you or anyone in your household has: 

Fever, chills, coughing, signs for respiratory illness or flu-like symptoms 

Or has recently: traveled out of the country, or to an area with widespread cases of Coronavirus, or if you have been in contact with anyone know to have the virus. 

Call 1-866-942-8463 to reschedule your WIC appointment. 

Montgomery County WIC Change in Service Delivery Due to COVID-19

MFHS will continue to update our website as the Covid-19 pandemic continues. For the entire archive of our updates on this evolving situation, please visit our dedicated Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) page

Notice to WIC Participants in Lansdale and Pottstown WIC

Limited WIC services will open in Montgomery County effective Monday, March 16

  • Benefit pick up (eWIC card re-loading) appointments scheduled on or after March 16th will take place as scheduled.
  • These will be quick appointments to minimize time spent in the WIC Center.
  • WIC nutritionists will be available via phone to answer your nutrition or infant and child feeding questions.
  • Re-Certification appointments (appointments that require an assessment by a WIC nutritionist) will be temporarily conducted over the phone. If you have this type of appointment scheduled on or after March 16th, you will receive a phone call from a WIC nutritionist prior to your appointment.  When you come to the WIC Center, you will only need to have your eWIC card re-loaded.  You will not need to bring your children for the visit. This will minimize your time in the WIC Center.
  • If you are not able to get to the WIC Center for eWIC card re-loading, you can designate a proxy to come to the WIC Center for you.  Please contact your WIC Center to arrange for this over the phone.
  • In order to limit exposure, we ask that you please limit the number of people that you bring with you to your appointment.

Notice to WIC Participants Receiving Services at Norristown WIC Center

  • The Norristown WIC Center will be closed for services beginning March 16th, until further notice.
  • Anyone who has an upcoming appointment will be contacted by a WIC staff member who will provide further instructions on how to access services. Please do not come to the Norristown Center, as we will be closed.
  • Benefit pick up (eWIC card re-loading) appointments scheduled on or after March 16th will be done at another nearby WIC Center
  • Re-Certification appointments (appointments that require an assessment by a WIC nutritionist) will be temporarily conducted over the phone. If you have this type of appointment scheduled on or after March 16th, you will receive a phone call from a WIC nutritionist prior to your appointment.  You will then be instructed on where to go to receive your benefits.
  • If you are not able to get to one of other centers for eWIC card re-loading, you can designate a proxy to come to the WIC Center for you.  When you receive your call from one of our WIC staff members, you can arrange for this over the phone.

For any questions about accessing services, please call 1-866-942-8463.

At MFHS, our goal during this crisis is to continue to provide essential WIC services in a safe and effective way.  We appreciate your continued cooperation and patience.  If you have questions regarding your appointment, please reach out directly to your WIC Center (link to list of WIC Centers) or call MFHS at 1-800-FOR-MFHS (1-800-367-6347)

In the interest of the health and safety for all the families we serve, we ask that you please reschedule your appointment if you or anyone in your household has:

  • Fever, chills, coughing
  • Signs for respiratory illness or flu-like symptoms

Or has recently:

  • Traveled out of the country
  • Traveled to an area with widespread cases of Coronavirus
  • Or if you have been in contact with anyone know to have the virus.

Call 1-866-942-8463 to reschedule your WIC appointment.

Maternal and Family Health Services President and CEO to Step Down in June

Bette Cox Saxton

Maternal & Family Health Services, Inc. announced today that Bette Cox Saxton will step down as MFHS President & Chief Executive Officer in June.

“I will be leaving to pursue some exciting opportunities and new challenges in the next chapter of my career. It has been an absolute honor and privilege to serve as the leader of this most outstanding organization,” Saxton said in a statement released to the Board of Directors. ”Maternal and Family Health Services is well positioned to continue its mission of meeting the needs of the community through our health and social services. Over the years, I have learned volumes about the value of public health and the positive impact our services have on the lives of women, children, men and families in Northeastern Pennsylvania.”

During her 20 years at MFHS, Saxton’s vision, creativity and commitment have resulted in significant expansion of opportunities for low-income women, children, and families throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania. Some of her most notable accomplishments at MFHS include expanding the Nurse-Family Partnership to four counties meet the increasing need for home visiting nurses from this highly regarded, evidence-based program.

In addition, Saxton oversaw the expansion of Scranton’s Circle of Care Center, which integrates all MFHS services in a one- stop model– delivering comprehensive, high-quality, accessible reproductive healthcare and social services to women and children in Lackawanna County. In 2018, she launched a behavioral health integrated care model with the addition of a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) to counsel and support pregnant women and mothers battling substance abuse and behavior health issues.

Under her leadership, MFHS developed the SafeTeens initiative, which includes an award-winning website and a national textline that enables teens to get accurate and even personalized health information to make healthy, positive choices. This concept has become the foundation for SafePlace school initiatives in the region.

Saxton’s tireless and vigilant advocacy on behalf of MFHS with both state and federal legislators has been critical to the success of the organization. The key relationships she has forged with legislators have helped strengthen MFHS’ position in non-profit health and human services sector, particularly during periods of funding shortfalls.

She has consistently promoted increased collaboration among area non-profits, and as a result MFHS now works closely with such programs as Healthy MOMS and FREE2B Mom to help mothers with opioid abuse disorder lead healthy lives in recovery. Her focus on collaboration has also led great organizational efficiencies, including co-locating many of MFHS service centers with community partners to increase access to vital programs and services for the entire community.

“Bette’s a true visionary who whose keen strategic and goal-oriented mindset enabled the organization to grow, evolve and prosper to meet the ever-changing needs of the clients we serve,” said MFHS Board Chair Kathy Finsterbusch. “The Board is very grateful for her dedication and, of course, the many accomplishments she achieved during her two decades of leadership; however, we also understand and support her decision and begin a new chapter of her professional career.”

“I can honestly relate that I have learned and embraced valuable life lessons and was given tremendous opportunities in a field that I have personally and passionately committed to for most of my life,” said Saxton. “I’m both humbled and grateful to lead an organization that has so positively touched the lives of literally hundreds of thousands of individuals during my tenure. I look forward to the next few months remaining in my role as I endeavor to continue our good work and do all I can to ease the transition for my successor.”

The non-profit’s board of directors has commenced a search for her successor.

Studies Demonstrate Positive Impact of MFHS Programs

Two MFHS programs were the subject of recent high profile studies demonstrating positive impacts on maternal and child health.

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in December 2019 found that WIC participation is associated with lower preterm birth and infant mortality.  Specifically, the study found that babies born to WIC participants are 33% less likely to die the first year of life.

This study validates that WIC is an effective intervention to improve birth outcomes and ensure the healthy growth and development of children.

In response to the study, the National WIC Association noted that the infant mortality rate in the US is nearly twice as high as rates in other developed countries. It is imperative that we elevate and strengthen proven and effective interventions that help babies and young children thrive. WIC is the gold standard in that effort.  However, not every eligible family is connected to WIC services.  The authors of the study stated that “promoting WIC enrollment through public health campaigns and increasing federal funding for the program could raise the number of expectant mothers with low income or at risk for poor nutrition receiving the benefits throughout pregnancy.”

A study on the long-term positive impact of the Nurse-Family Partnership program made headlines in November 2019.  Pediatrics published an 18-year follow-up of moms and children in Nurse-Family Partnership’s Memphis trial. The follow-up study found that Nurse-Family Partnership significantly improved the cognitive functioning and academic performance of 18-year old children born to high-risk mothers with limited psychological resources to cope with poverty.  Babies born into the NFP during the Memphis trial are now teenagers, and the study showed that they had improved cognitive outcomes compared to youth in the control group.  Mothers, with an NFP Nurse, had improved economic self-sufficiency. At the 18-year follow-up, they have greater confidence in their ability to manage life challenges, were significantly more likely to be married and had spouses who were employed 14 months longer than those in the control group. These nurse home visits had a profound effect in laying the foundation for moms to build stronger families.

An additional Pediatrics study, over the same 18-year period, found that Nurse-Family Partnership saved government $17,310 per family in public benefit costs, resulting in a net savings of $4,732 in government costs in 2009 dollars.

In addition, Harvard University research on the impact of poverty and toxic stress during pregnancy took note of the positive impact of the Nurse-Family Partnership and other interventions that begin during pregnancy.

The stresses of poverty essentially handicap a baby for life literally before birth, according to a massive and growing body of research from over the past decade, causing the brain to react in ways that lead to riskier behavior — and to a higher likelihood of bad health, poor grades, lower earnings and prison time.  Jack Shonkoff, a Harvard University professor of pediatrics and director of Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child, said, “People living in poverty are at much greater risk to experience toxic stress, because the causes of stress in their daily lives don’t go away easily — the stress of having a roof over your head, the stress of food, the stress of having bills to pay, the stress of not being able to get out of that hole,”

A burgeoning field of research shows that the imprint of poverty and its toxic stressors can actually be reversed — just by making some radical shifts in prenatal care for poor moms, through programs that provide consistent, empathic one-on-one coaching with the mother while she is pregnant, and continuing through early childhood.  “The right kinds of supports during pregnancy are ultimately the earliest intervention for … increasing the likelihood that that next generation will do better,” Shonkoff says.

Double Your Impact on #GivingTuesday 2019!

#GivingTuesday 2019 is almost here! Mark your calendars – this international day of giving is happening on December 3rd, 2019, the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving. MFHS is thrilled to announce that we will be partnering with AllOne Charities for the second year in a row to celebrate #GivingTuesday! Your donation will be doubled thanks to the generosity of AllOne. Here is what you need to know:

  • Every gift made to MFHS up to $1,000 total will be matched by AllOne. Donations must be made via the AllOne Charities website to qualify for the match.
  • You can make you donation from Wednesday, November 27th until Wednesday, December 4th at 4pm.

New this year: AllOne is offering two bonuses to the non-profits participating in 2019:

  • The non-profit that raises the most money earns a $1,000 bonus.
  • The non-profit with the most individual donors also earns a $1,000 bonus.

Please mark your calendars and consider making an end of year gift to support MFHS via the AllOne #GivingTuesday website. Every gift, large and small, will help us continue to provide life changing health and nutrition services to women, children and families in Northeast Pennsylvania.

 

MFHS Announces Launch of Electronic WIC

Pennsylvania’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), is offering its families a new way to shop for WIC food benefits using an Electronic Benefits Transfer (eWIC) card. No more paper checks! WIC families in the MFHS service area that includes Berks, Bradford, Carbon, Lackawanna, Lehigh, Luzerne, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Pike, Schuylkill, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga, Wayne, and Wyoming counties will begin using this new tool in October 2019.

With the eWIC card, shopping will be quick, easy and convenient for WIC families and grocery stores. WIC participants will save time at the checkout and can buy WIC foods in as many shopping trips as they need throughout the month. Participants may also have access to a new WICShopper Smart Phone App allowing them to scan a food’s bar code to determine if it is a WIC allowed food.

In order to prepare for this transition, WIC Nutrition Centers in the above listed counties will be closed for staff training from September 23 through September 30, 2019. WIC will re-open for appointments on October 1, 2019.

WIC provides services at over 250 clinic sites throughout Pennsylvania and serves approximately 205,000 pregnant women, infants and children under age 5. These WIC families shop at more than 1,500 Pennsylvania grocery stores and spend $248 million a year with their WIC food benefits.

“Maternal and Family Health Services is excited to offer a new, convenient way for our families to shop,” said MFHS President & CEO Bette Cox Saxton. “This enhancement of the WIC program will allow us to continue to provide high quality nutrition care to women and children in Northeast Pennsylvania.”

The Maternal and Family Health Services WIC Program has been offering participant-centered nutrition education, healthy food, breastfeeding support and has been serving as a gateway for preventative health for over 40 years.  It is considered one of the most successful, cost-effective and important nutrition intervention programs in the country. MFHS has WIC appointment openings. For more information about WIC, visit MFHS.org or pawic.com or call 1-800-367-6347 or 1-800-WIC-WINS. PA WIC is funded by the USDA. This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

eWIC is Coming Soon to MFHS!

The Pennsylvania Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Nutrition Program will be offering families a new way to shop for WIC food benefits using an Electronic Benefits Transfer (eWIC) card later this year. No more paper checks!

Maternal and Family Health Services WIC Nutrition Centers will transition to eWIC starting October 1, 2019, for families in Berks, Bradford, Carbon, Lackawanna, Lehigh, Luzerne, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Pike, Schuylkill, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga, Wayne, and Wyoming counties.

In order to prepare for this transition, WIC Nutrition Centers in the above listed counties will be closed for staff training from September 23 through September 30, 2019. WIC will re-open for appointments on October 1, 2019.

With the eWIC card, shopping will be quick, easy and convenient for WIC families and their grocery stores. WIC participants will save time at the checkout and can buy WIC foods in as many shopping trips as they need throughout the month. Participants may also have access to a new WICShopper smart phone application, allowing them to see what is WIC allowable in Pennsylvania.

Appointments are available now at all locations throughout the MFHS WIC network. For more information about WIC, visit mfhs.org or call 1-800-367-6347.