J Community Health. 2023 Nov 9. doi: 10.1007/s10900-023-01287-5. Online ahead of print.
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) has been shown to improve food and economic security, advance health and educational outcomes, and reduce health costs. Despite proven benefits, 54% of those eligible for WIC in Denver County are not enrolled, likely due to documented barriers including stigma, psychological costs, administrative resources, and physical access. In partnership with Denver County WIC, Denver Health’s Federally Qualified Health Centers collaborated to create a Specialized WIC Co-Enrollment program to integrate WIC services into pediatric well-child and obstetric visits. WIC Co-Enrollment programmatic data were collected using a REDCap database. Program participant feedback and experiences were gathered through a bilingual survey after visits were completed. Program staff feedback and experiences were collected through third-party interviews and anonymous surveys. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and inductive thematic analysis. Between March 2021 and December 2022, 1,870 families were served in Specialized WIC Co-Enrollment appointments, serving a total of 3,347 individuals. Participants noted positive experiences and that receiving WIC services during healthcare visits saved them time, money, childcare, and transportation. Staff and providers noted the program was convenient for families and offered system-level benefits such as improved interprofessional collaboration and clinic efficiency. Specialized WIC Co-Enrollment has been popular among participants, providers, and staff. Integrating WIC services in a health system leverages existing touchpoints with Medicaid beneficiaries and eliminates barriers to accessing the WIC program, which could be beneficial in other communities where assistance program enrollment gaps exist.