Governor Launches State Initiative to Make Customer Experience and Benefit Engagement a State Priority; Improve WIC Benefit Delivery

governor casey Hao Zhe A new client feedback program was announced today that will increase understanding of the challenges New Yorkers face when participating in the Women, Infant and Children Supplemental Nutrition Program, also known as WIC.declared as part of the governor Hochul 2023 State of the Union Addressthe New York State Department of Health will work with american code arrive Pilot a real-time online chat program that will help the agency gather customer feedback to improve WIC Program and Statewide Admissions.

“While the WIC program is a great resource for struggling families, it is not being used by New Yorkers who are eligible for these food benefits, nor by many of the families already enrolled in the program,” Governor Hao Zhe explain. “This initiative will help us identify ways to remove bureaucratic barriers, streamline the registration process and implement new technologies so struggling families can better access healthy, nutritious food.”

Initially, Code for America will help implement real-time online chat capabilities to replace the automated chatbots that the Department of Health has had at the agency WIC page, which connects individuals to WIC workers for real-time interaction.Live interactions are an effective way to guide applicants through the process and guide registrants in using their benefits, while also providing a valuable source of feedback that can Combine client interviews and other qualitative and quantitative research methods to better understand challenges in WIC enrollment and use.

In the second phase of the project, the Department of Health will work with Code for America to improve the WIC program based on the feedback collected. The partnership will allow the agency to determine what prevents eligible families from participating in and taking full advantage of the program, and then use that information to improve WIC service delivery.

Acting Health Commissioner Dr James McDonald said, “By gathering input from families participating in the WIC program, we can enhance the customer experience and make it easier for New York families to obtain the nutritious food their children need to grow and develop healthily. By partnering with Code for America to test live chat and other technologies for gathering input, We can look for ways to help increase participation and make the program more friendly to those who depend on WIC.”

The WIC program provides federal funding to states to provide complementary foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education to low-income pregnant, lactating, and non-lactating postpartum women; and infants and children under age 5 who are found to be at nutritional risk. The Department of Health is one of four agencies selected to participate in the second cohort of code for the American Safety Net Innovation Lab, which aims to make state-administered public benefit programs more equitable and accessible.

Nationally, about half of households eligible for WIC are enrolled in the program, and households enrolled in the program do not consistently use their food benefits.Data compiled this year by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service found that roughly 706,000 New Yorkers eligible for WIC in 2020But only 363,000 people participated in the program.

Food insecurity has been consistently linked to poor child health, including poorer overall health, acute and chronic health problems and limited access to healthcare. Participation in WIC is associated with positive health outcomes such as healthier childbirth, improved birth weight, reduced risk of infant death, better infant feeding practices, more nutritious diets, better access to primary and preventive healthcare, and improved cognitive development in children .

Code for America’s initiative is part of the Governor’s Hochul The plan makes government work better for New Yorkers by changing the way New Yorkers access services and benefits. Significant technological improvements are currently being implemented to reduce bureaucratic barriers and improve access; reduce call wait times; use electronic signature technology; launch “one ID” to improve how residents interact with certain state agencies online; enable state agency websites and apps Program modernization to improve user experience.

Code for America CEO Amanda Renteria said, “The American Code works side-by-side with government partners and community-based organizations with the goal of building a people-centred safety net. Through the Safety Net Innovation Lab, state governments are taking major steps to bring about systemic change in how people access benefits such as food assistance, Healthcare and other basic needs.”

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