Harris County Public Health Looks After Pregnant Women And Mothers

Women's Dating

Harris County Public Health Looks After the Needs of Pregnant Women & Mothers Below the Poverty Level in Texas

Amber Brooks
Amber Brooks Posted:

The Short Version: Harris County Public Health provides many helpful services and programs that benefit low-income families in the Houston area. The Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program is a prime example of how healthcare workers can give eligible participants the resources they need to raise healthy children. WIC offers nutrition information, breastfeeding support, and healthy foods to pregnant women, breastfeeding women, and parents with young children. This federally funded program ensures a healthy lifestyle isn’t out of reach for families living below the poverty line.

Harris County Public Health is on a mission to promote health and prevent illness in the Texas community. Its public services support individuals, couples, and families of all ages, income levels, and backgrounds, and many local residents have come to depend upon its expert care.

Harris County Public Health logo

Harris County Public Health makes quality health care and nutrition available to Texas families.

From wellness clinics to refugee health screenings, the department has a big role to play in public health and safety, and it can be particularly impactful for low-income families with young children. Thanks to federal funding, Harris County Public Health maintains a premier nutrition program available exclusively to pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, and young children.

The Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program began in the 1970s as a U.S. government initiative to provide free nutritious foods to pregnant women and children under 5 years old. The program’s success and popularity prompted its expansion into a nationwide effort to nourish underprivileged children. Today, about 53% of all infants in the U.S. are cared for under WIC.

For over 40 years, WIC has provided young families with the best possible start and support a healthy child’s development. The WIC program has proven to be a great resource for single mothers and families living below the poverty line, and Harris County Public Health receives requests for services from eligible people all the time.

“Since its inception, the program has continued to receive bipartisan support,” WIC Director Jolene Norbert-Harrell said. “Numerous studies conducted have proven that the WIC Program improves health outcomes in low-income women and children.”

The WIC Program Offers a Reliable Support System

WIC is a federally funded public health and nutrition program that offers assistance to low-income (185% poverty level) families that include pregnant women, breastfeeding women, women who have delivered within six months, infants, or children up to age 5.

Harris County Public Health works with the Texas Health and Human Services to give low-income families access to nutritious foods, including milk, cheese, eggs, fruit, breads, and infant formula.

In Harris County, the WIC program has a knowledgeable staff that can make referrals to other health programs and social services a participant may be eligible for. For instance, a pregnant woman may want to start looking for local pediatricians, or a family may want to know about reliable food pantries or dentists in Harris County.

The WIC staff includes breastfeeding peer counselors, lactation consultants, registered dietitians, and nutritionists, so it has a wealth of information to share with soon-to-be mothers and new parents.

In Texas, the WIC’s new gateway portal allows potential participants to upload eligibility documents and complete the health questionnaire prior to their appointment — which makes the entire process run more quickly and smoothly. WIC benefits are loaded to an Electronic Benefit Transfer card with a chip. Typically, individuals must go to the office receive their benefits, but, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the government approved mailing WIC benefits to eligible families.

Families that receive Medicaid or SNAP automatically qualify for the WIC program. Pregnant and breastfeeding mothers in Harris County can set up an appointment to see if they’re eligible for WIC. Fathers, grandparents, foster parents, and legal guardians of children under 5 may also apply for the program. Immigration status has no bearing on whether a person qualifies for WIC.

The WIC center in Harris County fosters a safe and welcoming space for women, children, and families in need. Jolene said clients can expect to find a judgment-free zone with a friendly staff ready to offer guidance and helpful services.

“WIC is an amazing program,” Kim, a WIC client in Texas said in a testimonial. “And it doesn’t just stop after your baby is born. There’s a lot more to learn, and WIC is there to provide that information for you.”

“The person who take care of me during the time that I was with her was so excellent and very professional,” said another client. “That is why I always select this office because everyone out there was so nice.”

The Staff is Passionate About Helping Individuals & Families

The WIC program is part of an ongoing effort to nourish the families that need it most, and its staff members are passionate about providing the best possible service and reliable resources. Many young children scamper around these offices throughout the day, so a love of children is pretty much a job requirement for this department.

“We are family-oriented,” Jolene said. “We love the little ones, and, just like our WIC participants, we want the very best for our loved ones.”

Message from Harris County Public Health

The WIC program has a diverse and caring staff with years of experience in health care.

Harris County Public Health has a thriving WIC program backed by health care experts who have been working there for years or, in some cases, decades. Some staff members have been working for the WIC program for over 30 years.

This team has had to adapt to many challenges throughout the years, but they haven’t let hurricanes, floods, or even a global pandemic stop them from providing essential services to pregnant women and children in Harris County.

In 2020, the WIC program has had to adjust its hours and adapt to a modified format to keep clients and staff safe; however, the team hasn’t stopped innovating and growing to benefit the community. Jolene said they recently acquired a Mobile Unit and Conversion van to bolster the accessibility of important health care services in Harris County.

“Throughout Texas WIC, we have replaced customer service with hospitality to ensure we develop a real connection with our clients,” Jolene told us. “This creates trust and in turn empowers our clients.”

Harris County Public Health Continues to Serve the Community

Pregnant women and mothers know that good nutrition is important for their children’s development and health, but they may not have the resources to put nourishing foods on the table. That’s where the WIC program comes in.

The WIC provides parents of young children with direct access to nutritional information and healthy foods. This federally funded program has improved the health prospects of millions of children in low-income families, and Harris County residents can set up an appointment with Harris County Public Health to see if this program is right for them.

Harris County Public Health can refer individuals and families to health programs and services that meet their needs and help them maintain a healthy lifestyle.

“It feels so gratifying to know that we are helping families in the community to thrive and be their best,” Jolene told us. “It gives us purpose and a sense of joy. Many families are verbal in communicating how thankful they are for the WIC program.”