CWA Flash E-Newsletter - May 19, 2020
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Oral Health    
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends parents/caretakers should be encouraged to establish a dental home for infants by 12 months of age. WIC Can Help promotes oral health for families by referring them to low-cost or free services and Smile CA, directs families to information from CA Dept of Health Care Services and Dept. of Public Health, related to care during the pandemic. 
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Wellness in the Home Workplace  
Gyms and fitness clubs across the country are temporarily closing their doors in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Social distancing is crucial during this time, but it can be mentally taxing, making mood-boosting exercise that much more important. Several fitness trainers, gyms, and studios are now offering free online workout options to help everyone stay fit and connected. Check out a few here!   
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CA Launches Pandemic Assistance for Undocumented Immigrants 
Applications opened yesterday for California's Disaster Relief Assistance for Immigrants (DRAI) program. To be eligible, an individual must provide information that they (1) are an undocumented adult (person over the age of 18); (2) are not eligible for federal COVID-19 related assistance, like CARES Act tax stimulus payments or pandemic unemployment benefits; and (3) have experienced a hardship as a result of COVID-19. Twelve nonprofit organizations, located in various regions of California, will administer assistance on a first come, first served basis, but services and assistance are not guaranteed. Individuals will only be allowed to receive DRAI application assistance from nonprofit organizations assigned to their county or region. Information regarding the DRAI project can be found here. 
State Budget Summary
The Governor's May Revise to his proposed State Budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year projects a $54.3 billion shortfall, after starting the year with an $18-21 billion surplus. Difficult decisions will be made in the next month to cancel and reduce spending, draw over $16 billion from reserves over the next 3 years, and borrow from special funds. Additionally, plans include increasing revenues by temporarily suspending net operating losses and temporarily limiting to $5 million the amount of credits a taxpayer can use in any given year, projected to generate new revenue of $4.4 billion in 2020-21. CA has joined other western states in asking the federal government for an additional trillion dollars, having earlier received a very generous partial federal bailout, primarily for hospitals.  If we are unable to secure sufficient federal funds to help balance the 2020-21 budget, there will be "triggers" of additional cuts. For budget details and insights into how low-income populations will be impacted, review the comprehensive analysis provided by CA Budget and Policy Center. Hearings for budget health and human services subcommittees are taking place today in the Assembly and on Saturday in the Senate. All are encouraged to watch the livestream of hearing today at 
USDA Waivers Extended
Waivers to WIC program rules have provided needed flexibilities enabling local agencies to serve the crush of participants, many newly eligible, while quickly adapting operations to protect participants and staff. With waivers set to expire May 31, an extension to June 30 was granted over the weekend, yet USDA has the authority to extend waivers to Sept. 30. Realistically, WIC programs need flexibility to plan beyond Sept. 30. with the flu season and upticks in COVID-19 outbreaks expected in the coming months. It is a herculean undertaking to adapt worksites and operations in over 500 WIC clinics in CA, thousands across the nation. With no vaccine on the near horizon and a deep economic recession unfolding, extending flexibilities for WIC programs will not only ensure young families have food and critical support, but also allow state and local agency operations the opportunity to manage in a complex environment. 
HEROES Act and WIC Act Introduced
Last week the House passed the HEROES Act, the fifth COVID relief bill with broad support, including 1.1 billion to address the increased need for WIC benefits. The bill also includes funding to increase the Cash Value Benefit for fruits and vegetables to $35 per participant through Sept 30. Strong push back in the Senate for a number of provisions in the bill is expected, and no action is predicted before June. Also re-introduced in the House by Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Linda Sánchez (D-CA), Kim Schrier (D-WA), and Jenniffer González-Colón (R-PR) was the WIC Act that allows for an extension of child eligibility to age six or the beginning of kindergarten, extension of postpartum women's eligibility to two years, and extend infant certification periods to two years. In 2019 a Senate version was introduced by Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA) and Susan Collins (R-ME). The WIC Act is especially important right now with children out of school and often not able to access school meals, WIC can provide needed nutrition not only to address hunger but to support brain and cognitive development. ACTION: Your help needed, read below. 
CWA News
WIC Story Must be Told!
WIC staff can always be counted on to stand up to adversity and challenges. During this pandemic our partners in grocery stores, hospitals and clinics are working to ensure WIC families have food, breastfeeding support and care. It doesn't get much worse than a pandemic- clearly the biggest challenge in the history of the program. That needs to be documented. What looks like the new 'ordinary' to you, is exceptional to those outside of WIC. We need to paint a picture for others. People using drop off boxes, handing cards at locked doors, curbside service, grateful email and text messages, office configurations, masked staff, lactation consults in PPE. Our partners in grocery stores are helping families get the approved WIC foods. We can't miss this opportunity to show the WIC community spirit. Please send your photos, text and email messages and stories to CWA and we will give you back a visual story. Send info or questions to Sarah. 
Virtual Legislative Visits!
WIC has an exemplary story to tell in the midst of the bleak news of the pandemic. Our legislators want and need to hear how WIC is responding quickly to serve families in their districts. WIC phones and on-line communications are buzzing with inquiries for enrolling in WIC. More moms and their families are receiving benefits! WIC operations look different now and it is working! Let's not forget that California recently completed the successful rollout of the WIC card, app and WIC WISE MIS system, with the final wave of rollout in late March-early April, as the pandemic unfolded. And even those systems have been adapted to serve differently for the crisis. That is not all. WIC staff are reaching out to ensure strong census completion using phone calls, text messages and social media. Like many Americans, many WIC staff are juggling children who are in school online and without child care, or taking care of elderly family members, trying to stay well physically and mentally themselves, so they can serve families in their communities. ACTION: Join CWA in virtual visits with your legislator to share the WIC story and help legislators understand how they can support WIC through legislation or voicing support on WIC's behalf to USDA. Contact Sarah if you want to join our virtual visits. 
Annual Conference & Trade Show Goes Virtual!
There is a lot of interest in Empowering Young Families Unite, Inspire Uplift, CWA's 28th Annual Conference and Trade Show, planned for Mon. Aug. 24-Fri. Aug. 28, in a virtual platform. Registration will be live next week and the draft agenda will be posted. Sessions will be a mix of recorded and live, with all speakers available for live discussion and online access during their schedule presentation. The Trade Show will run the full conference with links to company videos, materials on the platform, and chat and meeting opportunities available. Popular activities at the conference will continue including the Scavenger Hunt and physical activities. Wear active wear! Post conference, presentations and trade show materials will be available on the platform for viewing until Oct. 28. Each attendee will register for the conference and be provided their individual log-in information. This will also be necessary for continuing education units, which will include RDs, IBCLCs, and RNs. With no travel and a flexible event, we look forward to WIC colleagues from across the US, and state and national partners who serve young families, joining us as we collectively support our communities. 
WIC Works Webinars
This spring and summer, CWA will feature a variety of webinars, the first focusing on access to fresh produce. The importance of staying healthy and the risks of underlying health conditions, are of renewed importance as we address the pandemic and play a big role in fighting and preventing chronic disease. We are fortunate in California to have access to an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, but that is not the case for everyone. A growing number of programs are boosting SNAP shoppers' ability to purchase fruits and vegetables and other programs are recognizing food as medicine. Join us on May 27, to learn about the national Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program including innovative partnerships such as the ¡Más Fresco! More Fresh Program in grocery stores, the Market Match Program at Farmers' Markets and the ALL IN Alameda County: Food as Medicine Initiative, to ensure more families have regular access to the bounty of fruits and vegetables. Register Here. You can also learn how San Francisco WIC partnered with UCSF to implement EatSF, a local fruit and vegetable voucher program available at all WIC clinics in SF, to improve not only food security and dietary intake of fruit and vegetable among low-income pregnant women, but health outcomes. Register here. CWA webinars provide continuing education credits for RDs and IBCLCs. You must register individually.
Still Time to Fill Out the Census - WIC Will Help!
Due to the pandemic the self-response period for online, phone and mailed censuses has been extended, so enumerators will begin contacting people who haven't completed it beginning in August. Shout out to WIC agency staff who, during calls for WIC services, are also talking with WIC participants about completing the census. CWA provides census resources, including materials, like phone scripts, specific to talking with WIC participants about census completion. For more info, contact Lena. 
Our Top News Picks
Healthy Eating Behaviors in Childhood May Reduce Risk of Adult Obesity
How children are fed may be just as important as what they are fed, according to a new scientific statement from the American Heart Association, "Caregiver Influences on Eating Behaviors in Young Children." The statement is the first from the Association focused on providing evidence-based strategies for parents and caregivers to create a healthy food environment for young children that supports the development of positive eating behaviors and the maintenance of a healthy weight in childhood, thereby reducing the risks of overweight, obesity and cardiovascular disease later in life. Allowing children to choose what and especially how much to eat within an environment composed of healthy options encourages children to develop and eventually take ownership of their decisions about food and may help them develop eating patterns linked to a healthy weight for a lifetime, according to the statement authors. 
Law and Policy Improve Breastfeeding
A recent report from Healthy People, one in a series, examining improved health outcomes through practical laws and evidenced-based polices, highlights the improvements in national breastfeeding goals. Comprehensive support through policies and laws that include hospitals, worksites, family leave, insurance coverage, childcare, public spaces and federal assistance programs all contribute to the progress made in achieving our national breastfeeding goals. 
Americans Eating More at Home, Paying More for Food
New inflation numbers from the Labor Department offer a window on how consumers are coping in the COVID-19 era. Overall, consumer prices were down 0.8% last month - the sharpest drop since the Great Recession in 2008. But food prices at the grocery store rose 2.6% - the biggest jump in nearly 50 years. There's little evidence that people's overall food consumption has increased (although the price of snacks jumped 3.8% last month). Americans formerly spent more than half their food budgets on meals eaten outside the home, but that changed abruptly when the coronavirus pandemic hit.
WIC & COVID-19 - Messaging Toolkit
National WIC Association has published a messaging toolkit provides messaging related to WIC and COVID-19 , and it will continue to be updated. If you have any questions, content suggestions, or issues accessing any of the materials, please reach out to Natalie Moran at 
Guidance on Pregnancy Breastfeeding and Breast Milk Feeds During COVID-19
CDC has published interim guidance intended for healthcare providers who care for breastfeeding women and infants who receive breast milk feeds in the context of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). This interim guidance is based on what is currently known about SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and the transmission of other viral respiratory pathogens. CDC will update this interim guidance as additional information becomes available. For breastfeeding guidance in the immediate postpartum setting, refer to Considerations for Inpatient Obstetric Healthcare Settings. Thank you to the staff of MCAH and WIC for their partnership to develop guidance for pregnant and breastfeeding women during the COVID-19 pandemic and basic guidance for obstetrical care providers. Guidance is currently available in English and Spanish. Two important key points include:
  • Pregnancy: There is no evidence that pregnant women are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 than the general population. Due to changes in pregnant women's bodies and immune systems, they are vulnerable to some respiratory infections.
  • Breastfeeding: The virus has not been detected in breast milk. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) state that mothers with COVID-19 can breastfeed.
Report on WIC Program Participation  
The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service has released "WIC Participant and Program Characteristics 2018." The report provides details demographic characteristics, economic circumstances, and health conditions of WIC clients, along with information on the operational characteristics of state and local WIC agencies. The data in the report is used for policy development, budget projections, and regulatory impact analyses. 
Wide Open School  
A group of more than 25 organizations has partnered on a free collection of online learning experiences for kids, curated by the editors of Common Sense. Wide Open School is organized by subject matter and grade level. Wide Open School also has the functionality to actually program a full school day for the child by grade level, to ensure they're getting a mix of educational material that aligns with what their day would have been when attending school. For example, a fourth grader may be pointed to Prodigy's math games, YouTube art tutorials and Khan Academy reading resources in the morning, then instructed to read a book, draw or listen to music during their screen-free lunch break. In the afternoon, they may take social studies via Google Earth, study science through Amplify and take P.E. by way of GoNoodle. The site even suggests evening activities that can be done as a family, like bedtime reading or movies to stream, among other things. 
Quick Screener for Medi-Cal and CalFresh 
Millions of Californians are looking for assistance with their essential financial, healthcare and nutrition needs - many for the first time in their lives. Allowing them to determine quickly if they qualify for Medi-Cal and CalFresh benefits - and to then connect immediately to the appropriate applications is critical. Agencies and organizations that are helping Californians to enroll in benefits - with many staff working under more challenging circumstances away from their office - can use the Quick Screener to assess more swiftly if an applicant qualifies, or they can refer the applicant directly to the tool. Taking less than 3 minutes, the Quick Screener is anonymous, available in English and Spanish, and can be used from any computer, tablet or smartphone. Users receive preliminary eligibility results and get linked to program information and applications to apply for benefits. They also will see a list of other resources that may be useful. View the Quick Screener here.
California WIC Association
3960 Industrial Blvd., Suite 500 West Sacramento, CA 95691

Phone: 916-572-0700; Fax: 916-572-0760