Government shutdown affecting DHHS services

October 4, 2013 5:08:53 AM PDT
In North Carolina, the federal government shutdown has forced the Department of Health and Human Services to furlough more than 300 workers.

It's also impacting the services it provides, especially the Women Infants and Children program. Among many things, it helps feed more than 200,000 women, babies, and children every month.

People at DHHS were in meetings all day Wednesday trying to figure out what to do next when that funding runs out. They weren't ready to talk just yet about a specific plan, but people on the other side are speaking out about how the potential loss of WIC could affect struggling families.

"This program is that avenue for the low resource family to have that quality nutrition that every child needs," said Linda Riggins, with Strengthening the Black Family.

That avenue for quality nutrition is in trouble. WIC is 100 percent federally funded, and that money is running out due to the government shutdown. DHHS says that program will shut down this month.

"The buzz is 'Where will my baby's milk come from,'" said Riggins.

Riggins' group connects her to many families including those who need help providing quality food for their children.  She told us stories of struggling families that rely on WIC.  

"A single father with two children, doing a great job," said Riggins. "The 15th of every month is when they get quality milk and juice."

If this shutdown continues, she asked him what he'll do come Oct. 15.

"His response was 'I don't know' and it's not so much his response, it was his emotion, his body language as he said that, because they rely on that program," said Riggins.

Lekisha Riddick is a grandmother raising her 18-month-old grandson by herself.  She worries how she'll cope without this help.  

"I just hope they can get everything situated, because it's needed for a lot of single parents and single grandmothers raising kids," said Riddick. "So without that program, it's going to be a big struggle."

A struggle that affects close to 264,000 women and children in North Carolina, and it's not just WIC in trouble.

Other services provided by DHHS in jeopardy include:

  • Adult protective services
  • Temporary assistance for families
  • The child care development fund

? Click here for a full list of the programs affected. ?

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