Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013
A government program that provides millions of low-income pregnant women, mothers, and children with money and education to help them eat nutritious foods is on the list of agencies that will lose funding as part of the partial government shutdown. The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, or WIC, provides families with children under 5 nutritious meals in an effort to stave off learning disabilities and other health effects of premature birth and other complications. More on the shutdown’s effects on the program from CNN Money:
“No additional federal funds would be available,” to continue the program in the event of a shutdown, the United States Department of Agriculture, which runs WIC, said on its website. “States may have some funds available … to continue operations for a week or so, but states would likely be unable to sustain operations for a longer period.”
There are just under nine million women and children on the program, according to USDA. The average monthly benefit is about $45.
That often comes on top of about $135 a month in food stamp benefits. WIC benefits mandate the money can only be spent on an approved list of healthy foods.
Suspending the program is a terrible idea, said Rev. Douglas Greenaway, head of the National WIC Association, which represents the regional offices that administer the programs.
While a suspension would only be temporary, it would send the wrong message to mothers, and perhaps convincing some that it’s not worth signing up for, he said.
Greenaway said the program actually saves taxpayers money.
It costs $20,000 per pound to bring a premature child up to normal weight, he said. All told, for every $1 spent the program saves $4.21 in medical costs, he said.
Image: Mother feeding baby, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, May 17th, 2012
Under new guidelines that will lower the threshold for what can be called “lead poisoning,” more than 365,000 more children in the U.S. will be considered at risk, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Wednesday. Even as the announcement was made, though, the CDC made it clear that it does not have the funding to implement programs to help prevent lead exposure or poisoning in children. USA Today has more:
In an important shift, the CDC cut in half the amount of lead that will trigger medical monitoring and other actions in children ages 1 to 5. It’s the first time in more than 20 years that the CDC has revised its action level on lead poisoning.
Now any child with more than 5 micrograms per deciliter of lead in their blood will be considered at risk. This afternoon, the CDC said the new guidelines increase the patient population nationwide to about 442,000 from about 77,000 using the latest available data. (The CDC had previously said about 250,000 were affected under the current standard.)
The new levels come with a huge caveat. The CDC doesn’t “have the funding, staff or control over the means to implement” them, it said in a statement. “A commitment to implement actions cannot be made due to our lack of control over available resources.”
The CDC’s funding for lead-poisoning prevention was slashed 94% this year by Congress, from $29 million in fiscal year 2011 to $2 million. The CDC is reducing staff in its Lead Poisoning Prevention Program from 26 to six full-time employees.
John Belt of the Ohio Department of Health said his funding for lead prevention programs “went from $1.3 million to $594,000 and then from $594,000 to zero.”
According to the CDC, lead poisoning mainly comes from flaking paint or dust from paint that was applied before 1978, when lead was banned from house paint. Young children are of particular risk because they put so many things into their mouths. Parents can prevent lead poisoning by testing home surfaces for lead, keeping dusty or peeling paint away from play areas, and having children’s lead levels checked regularly by a pediatrician.
Image: Paint flaking from window, via Shutterstock.
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