Thoughtfully Improving the WIC Experience Through Technology
In late February, Social Interest Solutions (SIS), in partnership with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) and the National WIC Association (NWA), released a comprehensive resource for The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) agency staff who are curious about improving the WIC experience through technology . Entitled Launching New Digital Tools for WIC Participants: A Guide for WIC Agencies, it is a comprehensive guide that will enable WIC agencies to be smart purchasers, designers, and implementers of digital tools for WIC participants.
Digital technology is helping people more and more in every aspect of their lives, WIC families are asking for more digital tools to interact with the WIC program, and WIC agencies want to deliver. But doing so can be daunting. What would be most helpful to participants? How do I know if a tool is good or not? Once I have it, how do I introduce it to staff and participants? Busy WIC agency staff may not have the time or resources to answer these kinds of questions.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the National WIC Association heard this first hand from WIC agencies in listening sessions they held in 2017. Knowing that Social Interest Solutions understands how technology and social services can work together through our work with CDSS on improving verifications for CalFresh and CalWORKs and One Degree on their eligibility screener the two organizations reached out to SIS to partner on the project that became this exciting new resource.
The three organizations sought to answer the questions that WIC agencies had through a combination of in-depth research and interviews with WIC agency staff from all over the country. The result is recommendations that are informed not just by relevant research, but also the invaluable perspective and experience of actual WIC agency staff.
And while the guide is meant for WIC, much of the recommendations can be adapted for other social service programs as well. Digital tools can help connect more people to programs and social services that help them realize the lives that they dream of, as SIS seeks to do as its mission. However, to be truly useful and meaningful to users, digital tools need to be thoughtfully designed and implemented. This philosophy is at the heart of what SIS does and at the heart of this fantastic resource that SIS, CBPP, and NWA collaborated together on. And this philosophy can be applied to any program or social service seeking to assist people with their needs, not just the WIC program.