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How can we make WIC more effective and efficient?

Learning how the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program can better meet needs through the Nutrition Assessment and Tailoring Study (NATS)

About half the babies born in the U.S. receive benefits from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), a program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS).

For this program, what best practices promote efficient processes, effective identification of nutrition risks, and appropriate tailoring of participants’ benefits?

To learn more about how WIC services can better meet the needs of WIC participants, Westat will conduct the WIC Nutrition Assessment and Tailoring Study (NATS). It will provide a comprehensive, detailed description of the WIC nutrition risk assessment process and the ways in which WIC providers tailor participant benefits to address the results of the assessment.

Westat has implemented a tiered study design that yields a diverse national sample of WIC state agencies, local agencies, clinic sites, and participants.

Our data collection activities include:

  • A web-based survey of local agency directors
  • A data request to state agencies for a limited set of WIC management information system (MIS) data
  • Weeklong in-person site visits at 30 WIC clinics across the country that include direct observations of nutrition risk assessment visits and interviews with clinic staff and participants

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we temporarily postponed the in-person site visit data collection for WIC NATS. We added a remote data collection phase in order to better understand WIC participant and staff experiences with remote nutrition services as provided under the WIC public health emergency waivers.

The study will be the first national study to provide a comprehensive account of the WIC nutrition assessment process as it unfolds at sites across the country.

Findings will be used to develop guidance for WIC staff on how to enhance service delivery that:

  • Improves customer satisfaction
  • Promotes self-sufficiency
  • Improves the nutrition and health of women and children who participate in WIC

The study will also identify promising practices in the nutrition assessment process that are associated with staff satisfaction, improved efficiency in service delivery, and reduced staff burden.

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