3/22/2019 2:59:00 PM Cass County Board: WIC recipients to switch from paper vouchers to debit cards
MONICA LUNDQUIST Cass County Correspondent
BACKUS-Renee Lukkason, Health, Human and Veterans Services public health team leader, described new debit cards being issued to Women, Infant and Children program recipients at the Tuesday, March 19, Cass County Board meeting.
The WIC program serves pregnant women and their children up to age 5 for women whose family of four income is up to about $46,000 a year and up to age 2 for women whose annual family income is up to about $69,000. A yet-to-be-born baby is counted as a family member.
It includes health department counseling and assistance on healthy nutrition and breastfeeding. The program also offers payment for designated healthy foods at the grocery store.
Until now, participants have been issued a paper voucher on which they checked off the items they were buying. They had to turn in the voucher when they made a purchase.
This meant they could lose out on some items for which they qualified if they didn't want to stock up all at once. It meant some women tried freezing milk, while others would run out, she said.
Starting May 6, WIC participants will instead be issued a debit card on which their qualified items are stored. They keep the card. It is reloaded once a month.
With the card, a woman can shop for one or two items daily for up to a month as long as the items have not been exceeded in her allotment for the month. The cards expire once a month, then are re-loaded.
Users will get a list of items remaining on their card at the end of their grocery store checkout receipt, Lukkason said. They also can check items they have remaining on a smartphone or by calling a telephone number on their card.
In other HHVS business Tuesday, March 19, Chief Financial Officer Sandra Norikane obtained board approval to transfer $250,000 from a 2017 year-end HHVS fund balance to the capital improvement fund, because it was not needed for any unanticipated expenses in 2018.
Norikane uses a modified accrual basis for the county's financial reporting. That system allows for final adjustments to year-end totals for 90 days after the year end. Because of that, some of the state and federal reimbursements for HHVS programs may not be recorded as revenue until the end of this month, nor may some final billings to the county.
Current totals for 2018 show the county had $15,511,932 HHVS income, or 3.81 percent more than the budget anticipated. HHVS spent $14,199,458 or 4.98 percent less than the budget anticipated.
This leaves a 2018 net revenue gain of $1,312,474.
Some of this may be due to the fact Cass' out-of-home child placement costs have remained relatively stable the last two years, despite concerns those costs could rise. The vast majority of those costs are paid by county tax dollars, not a state or federal program.
Total out-of-home placement costs ran $2,293,901 in 2017 and $2,343,646 in 2018. Of those totals, the county share was $1,977,161 in 2017 and $1,993,288 in 2018.
The board approved a purchase of service contract for this year with Productive Alternatives to assist clients with service planning/job coaching at $30 per hour, job placement development and assessment at $50 per hour and a per diem rate of $30 per day.
Second publication rights after Brainerd Dispatch.