Program not included in the federal government’s final public charge rule, available regardless of immigration status
Many immigrants in Utah question how recent changes to the public charge rule will affect their families. WIC, the supplemental nutrition program for women, infants and children, is not included in the rule. Pregnant women, newborns and children up to the age 5 may fully participate in the WIC program regardless of immigration or citizenship status, according to a statement from the Utah Department of Health.
For more than four decades, WIC has provided early and targeted nutrition for women and children, officials say. WIC complements efforts by SNAP and Medicaid to ensure healthy pregnancies, positive birth outcomes and early child development. When families lose access to these programs, children lose access to preventative health measures that can mitigate significant health conditions or poor health later in life. WIC provides eligible participants with nutrition support and resources that improve health outcomes, according to UDOH.
People currently on WIC should continue participation. People who were on WIC in the past can reapply. And people who have not previously received WIC benefits can sign up without fear of negative consequence. The final rule clarifies that WIC participation will not be considered in a public charge determination conducted in the United States, even though other vital programs like SNAP and Medicaid are affected. The final rule does not permit public charge consideration of Medicaid benefits if the immigrant is younger than 21 years of age, or a pregnant woman (including a postpartum period of 60 days), according to UDOH.
WIC clinics and agencies do not inquire or collect information about a participant’s immigration or citizenship status. In compliance with federal regulations, they do not share any personal information with outside agencies, including immigration authorities. Refugees, asylees, and VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) self-petitioners are protected and not subject to public charge determinations, according to UDOH.
For more information visit the National WIC Association website or call 1-877-WIC-KIDS to speak to someone locally.