Pima County WIC, AZ
Pima County Health Department (PCHD) WIC provides services to just over 9,000 participants each month and has struggled in recent years with retaining eligible children in the program past their first birthday.
Meet the Pima County HPRIL Team
According to PCHD WIC staff, families may exit WIC early due to:
- A lack of understanding that benefits continue until age five;
- Confusion around financial eligibility; and/or
- Insufficient engagement with WIC.
To address these barriers, PCHD WIC introduced WICBuzz, a drip marketing text message campaign. The campaign featured:
- Targeted nutrition education and WIC brand awareness messages aimed at parents and guardians of children from birth to age four who were currently enrolled in PCHD WIC
- Ad hoc messages to remind or educate caregivers of when recertification was due and how the recertification process works.
WICBuzz messages were tailored based on the participants’ primary language (English or Spanish) and child’s age. Participants had the option to opt out of receiving messages.
PCHD WIC used feedback from participants enrolled in WICBuzz to modify the number and frequency of messages. This innovative drip text messaging campaign was intended to:
Encourage timely recertification
Increase redemption of food benefits
To evaluate the effectiveness of WICBuzz, PCHD WIC utilized a quasi-experimental design with a pre- and post-evaluation. Outcome evaluation integrated quantitative analysis of Management Information Systems (MIS) data and qualitative summary of stakeholder perspectives and determined whether the campaign added value to the WIC experience for participants and improve target population retention. Findings from PCHD WIC were compared with a control WIC site, Pinal County WIC, which is located nearby and had similar participant demographics.
With WICBuzz’s success in Pima County, the Arizona WIC program plans to launch a similar texting program statewide.
To learn more about Pima County WIC’s HPRIL project, please contact Cynthia Pompa at Cynthia.Pompa@pima.gov.
IN THEIR OWN WORDS…
What motivated you to pursue this innovation?
What was attractive about WICBuzz is that it would be low cost and wouldn’t take much staff to maintain. There is a similar text program for breastfeeding … Taking that model and developing nutrition and WIC services messages, …not only do we want them to stay on [the program], we want them to maximize benefits.
How has being part of a group with parallel local agency projects impacted how you implement your project?
We can take the relevant experiences and apply it to our project even through the projects are very different [for example,] we took feedback from another local agency doing a survey and applied it to our project…It is interesting to hear about what other people are doing, so I get a sneak peek into what our WIC program could do in the future...