BEND, OR -- A pilot program aimed at reaching more local families who qualify for WIC services, is now permanent. Laura Spaulding, Deschutes County’s WIC coordinator, says offering clinics at apartment buildings and Head Start makes it easier for parents to access nutrition and health services. "Transportation is one of the biggest issues for families coming into WIC. We do have a transportation system in Deschutes County, but it doesn’t always get exactly to every single client and get them in at the time of their appointment," she tells KBND News, "So, if we can go meet them where they live or where they’re already going to be, we have a higher chance of actually getting to see those clients on time."
Monthly clinics at the Ariel Glen Apartments, Healy Heights Apartments, Mountain Star Family Relief Nursery and various Head Start locations began several months ago, as a test. Spaulding says it was successful in helping reach more families. And, with many of those satellite clinics offered in the afternoon and evening, she says, they're more convenient for working parents, "Those of us who work fulltime, sometimes we have to take time off to go to the dentist, or something like that, and we never want our families to have to miss work or miss possible employment dollars in order to come to WIC. So, these are being held in the evenings, oftentimes." Periodic clinic visits are required for families to access health and growth screenings, nutrition support and education, and food benefits through the Women, Infant and Children (WIC) program. Spaulding says this new program is full-service, "We’re able to do weights and heights, and all of that kind of thing. And, we bring our computers so we can actually get them their benefits right that day, so there’s no other reason for them to come into the clinic; it’s just in a different type of environment."
Residents can also now start the qualification process with a new online form available on the county's website. WIC services are also still offered at the Deschutes County Health Services Building in Bend, the Becky Johnson Community Center in Redmond and the La Pine Community Campus. Deschutes County WIC currently serves about 3,400 clients, but Spaulding expects that number to grow with the new accommodations. Call 541-322-7400 for more details on the new satellite locations, including days and hours.
Photo: Courtesy Deschutes County WIC