ST. CLAIRSVILLE - The Belmont County's Women Infants and Children program is facing reorganization due to financial cuts.
On Wednesday, Linda Mehl, WIC director, went before the county commissioners to give a report on the status and future of the WIC program and sought input in helping continue its mission to provide for mothers and children.
Mehl reported that WIC funding for this year has been cut by 26 percent, starting Oct. 1. Its grant of $422,649 has been reduced by $20,384. This fiscal grant for 2013 will come to $315,173 for a total reduction of $107,476.
Some initial plans had included combining all offices to one in Bellaire, since of the 1,500 people WIC services, about 1,000 are based on the river front and 500 utilized the St. Clairsville office. However, they were able to keep the St. Clairsville office open six days per month after reducing staff and hours. Mehl decreased her time in the WIC project by 10 percent, or three days from four, to keep one of their part-time staff.
"That has enabled us to keep the WIC office in St. Clairsville open," she said, adding that their clients are being notified. "We're trying to see how this is all going to work."
She added that four part-time staff members are being laid off.
Mehl added that other attempts to reduce costs included looking into office space that might be provided at reduced rent. She said they had been unable to locate a site. Commissioners noted the county had no available handicapped-accessible space on hand.
Commissioner Ginny Favede asked if supplementary funds could be derived from the Health Department. She noted the public and local governments value the WIC program for the need it addresses.
"This is one of the most important programs that we do here in the county. We're talking about women, infants and children, the most vulnerable of our community," she said. "This program is extremely important to all of us."
Nathan Brinker, fiscal officer, noted the WIC program operates out of six grants that cannot be co-mingled, but there may be some flexibility in the general fund.
Mehl added that the WIC office has been in contact with CAC and the East Ohio Regional Hospital to continue the car seat program.
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