Vt. parents worry about WIC as shutdown continues - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vt. parents worry about WIC as shutdown continues

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BURLINGTON, Vt. -

For a mother of four, the government shutdown means having to ask how she will feed her kids if programs like Women, Infants and Children (WIC) come to an end.

"It means added stress for our family, as well as the possibility of, you know, drinking less milk, like actually not having it," mom Meghann Cline said.

The WIC program currently serves about 17,000 Vermonters and provides about $1 million worth of services a month. But come Nov. 1, Vt. Department of Children and Families Commissioner Dave Yacovone says that could all change.

"If we don't have some settlement of this issue by that time, the social safety net in Vermont will start to unravel," Yacovone said.

The Department of Health has already started looking at other options to ensure they can continue providing for WIC participants.

"Our USDA partners at the national, also at the regional level are trying to find other sources of funding to keep us going, or shifting money from one state to another state," said Donna Bister, the director of the WIC program.

Other programs that could be affected include Head Start, which provides educational services for kids.

Cline has a job in the Winooski schools, but depends on Head Start for her two youngest children, Pax, 4, and Jasper, 3.

"They have some special needs, so they get their services there. Those could be interrupted, which would be terrible for us, you know," Cline said.

"For some of our Head Start programs, their funding draw down is those programs are going to be facing closure Nov. 1 unless there's a solution to this," Yacovone said.

As the state works to figure out how to maintain the funds for these programs, Cline worries what will happen after October.

"I can't really make a plan for if those benefits are cut, if I'm not able to get WIC, if I'm not able to use Head Start. I don't have a backup plan," Cline said.

The Department of Health encourages WIC participants to continue using the services until further notice. Vermonters who are at risk of no longer receiving WIC benefits will be notified at least 15 days in advance.

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