WIC nutrition program will get new operator

The 9,100 pregnant women, new moms and children under 5 in Snohomish County helped through a nutrition program will continue to get service even though a different group will be taking over the program, state Health Department officials say.

Women, Infants and Children, a federal-state program, provides nutrition and medical screenings, nutrition education, promotes breast feeding and supplies nutritious food for women who meet low-income guidelines. A single mother with two children could make no more than $28,231 a year to qualify.

Since the 1970s, the program has been administered in Snohomish County by the nonprofit group Pregnancy Aid of Snohomish County. The organization has offices in Everett, Arlington, Granite Falls, Lynnwood, Marysville, Monroe and Snohomish.

However, last summer the state Health Department notified the group that it would get another agency to provide the services, said Cathy Franklin, nutrition coordinator for the state Health Department.

"It isn’t even on the radar screen that we won’t provide services up there," Franklin said. "There is strong commitment to have uninterrupted service for those 9,100 clients. If it comes down to it, we’ll get in a van and drive up there ourselves."

The Snohomish County group "ran into some fiscal and financial control issues the last couple of years," Franklin said, including providing incentive pay for employees who didn’t follow federal requirements.

"It’s really unfortunate," Franklin said. "We’re feeling saddened by this. They’ve been a long-term contractor of ours, and we wished this wouldn’t have happened."

The state had to pay back the federal government for the amounts in dispute, which was $78,342 in 2000 and $91,999 in 2001, she said.

Franklin said the state agency couldn’t ask Pregnancy Aid of Snohomish County for the money.

"We knew they didn’t have it," she said, explaining that virtually all the nonprofit’s money came from the state to run the program. "It’s not like they get another source of revenue, and we could ask them to divvy up to us," she said.

Stephen Good Sr., board chairman for Pregnancy Aid of Snohomish County, said bonus money was paid, but staff was paid less than workers at organizations providing similar services around the state.

Pay scales during 2000 and 2001 ranged from $7 to $20.56 an hour, said Aislann James, who coordinates the WIC program for the nonprofit.

Good said the problem occurred when audit results in 2000, the year in which the problem was discovered, weren’t released until the next year. "It wasn’t until after the first year’s audit came out we realized what the problem was," he said.

Since then, a new program coordinator and a new bookkeeper have been hired, Good said. "We’re going by all the regulations we’re required to follow."

But the state Health Department has asked the Snohomish Health District if it would be willing to take over. The local public health agency estimated it would take 14 to 25 people to staff the program, Franklin said. Based on the number of clients in the county, the agency would be paid slightly more than $1 million for general services and up to $18,000 more for programs to encourage breast feeding, she said.

"We’re asking the board to consider it," said Suzanne Pate, spokeswoman for the health district. A decision is expected by summer.

The agency already runs a similar program, called First Steps, which provides prenatal care, immunizations, nutrition information and other services to 521 pregnant women referred by the state Department of Social and Health Services or physicians.

Even if the health district approves taking over the WIC program, the soonest the change could occur is early next year, Pate said.

"This is a huge load of more than 9,000 people," she said. "Can we accommodate them, and how?"

Reporter Sharon Salyer:

425-339-3486 or


Talk to us

More in Local News

Cars move across Edgewater Bridge toward Everett on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023, in Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Edgewater Bridge redo linking Everett, Mukilteo delayed until mid-2024

The project, now with an estimated cost of $27 million, will detour West Mukilteo Boulevard foot and car traffic for a year.

Lynn Deeken, the Dean of Arts, Learning Resources & Pathways at EvCC, addresses a large gathering during the ribbon cutting ceremony of the new Cascade Learning Center on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2023, at Everett Community College in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
New EvCC learning resource center opens to students, public

Planners of the Everett Community College building hope it will encourage students to use on-campus tutoring resources.

Everett Police Chief Dan Templeman announces his retirement after 31 years of service at the Everett City Council meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Everett police chief to retire at the end of October

Chief Dan Templeman announced his retirement at Wednesday’s City Council meeting. He has been chief for nine years.

Boeing employees watch the KC-46 Pegasus delivery event  from the air stairs at Boeing on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019 in Everett, Wa. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Boeing’s iconic Everett factory tour to resume in October

After a three-year hiatus, tours of the Boeing Company’s enormous jet assembly plant are back at Paine Field.

A memorial for a 15-year-old shot and killed last week is set up at a bus stop along Harrison Road on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2023, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Teen boy identified in fatal shooting at Everett bus stop

Bryan Tamayo-Franco, 15, was shot at a Hardeson Road bus stop earlier this month. Police arrested two suspects.

Fatal 2-car crash closes Highway 99 in Lynnwood

Police closed off Highway 99 between 188th Street SW and 196th Street SW while they investigated.

Mike Bredstrand, who is trying to get back his job with Lake Stevens Public Works, stands in front of the department’s building on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023, in Lake Stevens, Washington. Bredstrand believes his firing in July was an unwarranted act of revenge by the city. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Lake Stevens worker was fired after getting court order against boss

The city has reportedly spent nearly $60,000 on attorney and arbitration fees related to Mike Bredstrand, who wants his job back.

Chap Grubb, founder and CEO of second-hand outdoor gear store Rerouted, stands inside his new storefront on Thursday, Sept. 21, 2023, in Gold Bar, Washington. Rerouted began as an entirely online shop that connected buyers and sellers of used gear.  (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Used outdoor gear shop Rerouted finds a niche in Gold Bar

Seeking to keep good outdoor gear out of landfills, an online reselling business has put down roots in Gold Bar.

Naval Station Everett. (Chuck Taylor / Herald file)
Everett man sentenced to 6 years for cyberstalking ex-wife

Christopher Crawford, 42, was found guilty of sending intimate photos of his ex-wife to adult websites and to colleagues in the Navy.

Most Read