Electronic benefit cards (eWIC) soon available to WIC participants
The Johnson County WIC program will start offering electronic benefit cards on Jan. 11, 2018. Johnson County is part of the first tier of roll-outs for eWIC across the state of Kansas. Paper checks will no longer be issued to WIC families.
As of December, 2017, the Johnson County WIC program had 5, 601 clients enrolled in the program.
“ If all of those clients continue to participate in WIC, then over a three month period of time an eWIC card will be issued to each family,” said   Laura Grimmett (Drake)Johnson County.
There is no way of knowing how many cards will be given out because will be continually provided during that period. “We don’t keep stats on the number of families that we serve,” Grimmett said.
Benefits can average between $70-$200 depending on the category of client. “When we give formula to an infant the benefit amount is going to be quite a bit higher than a child or an adult getting regular foods.”
A WIC eligible client can receive benefits as long as they are categorically eligible, reside in the state in which they are applying for benefits, provide proof of ID, and are income eligible, Grimmett said.  The categories that WIC serves are women who are pregnant, breastfeeding up until the babies first birthday, women up to 6 months postpartum who are not breastfeeding, and infants and children up to age 5 years old.
Income is based on 185 percent of poverty level and by the number of people living in a client’s household.  The current WIC income eligibility chart is at this site:  http://www.kansaswic.org/manual/CRT_06_01_00_Income_Eligibility_Chart.pdf
Unlike private debit or credit cards, under the new eWIC, clients’ names will not be printed on the cards,   and ID will not be required to use the eWIC card.
“Clients will choose a pin number that they will use at the store that will help avoid the possibility of misuse by a noncertified WIC individual,” Grimmett said. “Clients will be encouraged to NOT share their pin number with anyone.”
If a client loses their card, they can call the WIC office and the card will be voided as soon as possible, Grimmett said.   If clients need to choose a new pin, they can call a number on the back of their cards to change it if they feel it is in jeopardy of being used.
Citizenship is not required to receive eWic benefits.
Proofs of ID include passport, driver’s license, crib card and credit card or other documents staff believe reasonable identify the individual. A complete list of acceptable IDs are listed at: http://www.kansaswic.org/manual/eWIC_CRT_04_00_00_Proof_of_Identity.pdf
According to a press release, there will be many benefits for clients, vendors who authorize WIC foods, and the WIC programs across the state:
• The cards will allow the clients anonymity when conducting WIC transactions at the registers. The cards will be swiped through the card readers currently in place at the grocery stores like any debit or credit card would.
• Clients will be able to buy what they need and when they need it.
• Their benefits for everyone in the family will be on one card and the date of use will be the same for all family members.
• Vendors will not have to conduct separate transactions for clients with WIC benefits.
• Local agencies will use far less paper and won’t have to have clients exchange checks when they need to alter their food packages.
Clients currently have the ability to download the WIC Shopper App that will help them determine what benefits are left to purchase on their cards. The app also lets clients scan a food item to see if it is WIC approved or not.
For more information about eWIC, please call the WIC phone line at 913-826-1302 or 913-477-8330.