Published On: Thu, Jun 26th, 2014

WIC Program rolls out USDA Crossroads Program

By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.

ONE FEATHER STAFF

 

EBCI WIC, along with other WIC offices throughout the state, has implemented a new computer system that will help streamline services to clients.  The system rolled out at EBCI WIC on Monday, June 23.

Information from NCDHHS states, “The North Carolina Crossroads WIC System is a model information system that is replacing the 30-year-old NC WIC Automated Data Processing (ADP) Sytem…Crossroads is a robust system that will manage all facets of WIC operations, including client services and vendor management.”

Crossroads is completely funded by the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Services.

“State and local officials say too many hours have been spent dealing with tedious paperwork while signing up or renewing clients as part of the federal program,” said Julie Maney, EBCI WIC program manager.  “But, a new system is streamlining those steps, saving time for clients and allowing workers to spend more time educating moms about things such as good, nutrition habits.”

Maney said the new process will cut down on paperwork.  “In the past, a mother with two young children applying for WIC benefits would have filled out three separate forms each time.”

She added, “Under the Crossroads system, data is entered electronically for an entire family, substantially cutting down on paperwork that applicants have to endure.  Our goal is for staff to spend less time filling out forms and documenting things on paper and more time with the families we serve, to help them get referrals and the help they need.”

Maney said that the WIC paper vouchers for milk, bread, cereal, etc. will still be in use for now.  “By federal mandate, NC/EBCI WIC must implement a more modern debit card-style system for its WIC program by 2020.  It will be similar to the way food stamp recipients now redeem their benefits.”

Maney noted that some of the benefits of the new Crossroads system include:  easier scheduling, quicker food instrument pick-up, few questions at check-in, quick in-state transfers, and food packages that meet family needs.

According to Maney, there will be no changes in the eligibility requirements.  “All applicants must be able to get a chart at the Cherokee Indian Hospital or reside with an enrolled member, be categorically eligible, be income eligible and have a document nutrition risk.”

She also asks for help from the public in implementing the new system over the next few months.  “Please be understanding.  WIC staff will be busier for a few months.  Please be flexible.  WIC staff will need more time for your first appointment.  Please be patient.  WIC staff are learning the computer system and want to give you the best service possible.”

Josephine Cialone, NCDHHS’ Division of Public Health Nutrition Services branch head, commented on the new system, “It’s an exciting opportunity for North Carolina to take this leadership role for WIC Programs across the nation.  The Crossroads IT system will move NC from a primarily paper-based system to an electronic system, which will result in better service for WIC clients – fewer errors, less paperwork, time waiting, and no more duplicate questions. Our goal is for staff to spend less time filling out forms, and more time with the families we serve, helping them get the referrals they need and providing important information on nutrition.”

EBCI WIC program’s hours have changed to Monday – Friday from 7:45am – 4:30pm.  They are closed for lunch from 12:15-1pm.  They can be reached at 497-7297, 554-6232 or 554-6237.