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June 23 -- The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), USDA invites comments by August 22, 2023 regarding the WIC Participant and Program Characteristics 2024 and 2026 Study.

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS). WIC provides supplemental foods, health care referrals, breastfeeding promotion and support, and nutrition education to nutritionally at-risk, income-eligible pregnant, breastfeeding and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, infants, and children up to age five years. WIC is administered through 89 State agencies consisting of the 50 States, the District of Columbia, 5 territories, and 33 Indian Tribal Organizations (ITOs).

Since 1988, FNS has produced the biennial WIC Participant and Program Characteristics Study (PC) report that describes demographic, income, breastfeeding, and health-related information of a census of WIC participants as well as information on the benefits they receive through WIC. Data used to produce the PC reports are collected from participants by State agencies at the time of participant certification in WIC and then submitted to FNS biennially. FNS uses the regularly updated PC reports to evaluate the impact of the program, support State agencies, estimate budgets, submit civil rights reporting, identify research needs, and review current and proposed WIC policies and procedures.

The WIC Participant and Program Characteristics 2024 and 2026 Study will be the 19th and 20th completed in the biennial PC study series. The information collection subject to this notice includes the following, including a few changes and additions to the previous PC study collections:

1. Collection of the WIC PC Minimum and Supplemental Data Sets from 89 State agencies: Like all PC studies since 1992, Minimum and Supplemental Data Sets consisting of administrative information used by State agencies to certify WIC applicants and to issue benefits will be collected using a reference month of April of the PC reference year. The 20-item Minimum Data Set (e.g., birth date, race, ethnicity, height, weight, hemoglobin measurements) will be obtained from all State agency's existing Management Information Systems (MIS) and the 11-item Supplemental Data Set (SDS) (e.g., date of first WIC certification, years of education, birth length) will be obtained from those State agencies which can provide SDS items if they are available.

2. Collection of longitudinal WIC PC-related data from 89 State agencies: To enhance the utility of the PC data and allow for assessment of participant-level retention and health outcomes over time, this study will include a new pilot effort to collect up to two years of longitudinal retrospective PC-related data from as many State agencies as possible (it is possible that not all State agencies have the capability and capacity to provide these data). Longitudinal data will be collected in a similar manner as the MDS and SDS data and will include MDS and SDS variables over a specified time period plus any variables deemed necessary for useful longitudinal evaluation of WIC participant and program characteristics such as participant ID and date of first certification.

3. Collection of WIC Electronic Benefits Transfer Data (EBT) from 4 EBT processors and 17 State agencies: Like all PC studies since 2016, information on WIC food package issuance and costs will be reported for this study. However, this study will include a new data collection element that will allow for more accurate reporting on food package issuance and costs and will also allow for reporting on food package redemption. The new element will consist of collecting EBT data from the four WIC EBT processors and from 17 State agencies that operate EBT offline.

Respondent groups include State WIC officials and EBT processor staff. The total estimated number of respondents is 364. This includes, for each of the two rounds of the study: 89 WIC State agency office and administrative support staff, 89 WIC State agency state database administrators, and 4 WIC EBT processor staff.
 
WIC Participant and Program Characteristics: https://www.fns.usda.gov/data/wic-participant-program-characteristics
Draft data collection instruments and technical documentation requested from FNS by AEAStat.
FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2023-13313

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