When immigrant families bring their children to the Yale Children’s Hispanic Clinic, it’s just not about check-ups and vaccinations. Clinicians help them deal with everything from teething to nutrition to finding a place to live. But these days when front-line clinicians encourage families to use the many services offered through federal public programs, parents have questions—and misgivings. “They are hesitant because they are afraid,” said Patricia Nogelo, a clinical social worker at the Yale Children’s Hispanic Clinic. A proposed change in immigration law is making immigrants in Connecticut and nationally wary of utilizing federal programs that cover health, food and housing assistance.
Thousands of Connecticut children could potentially avert hunger and gain access to healthy foods under proposed legislation to raise a federal nutrition program’s age limit. U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro is co-sponsoring legislation that aims to change the age limit for children enrolled in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) from 5 to 6. She recently introduced a bill with U.S. Rep. Linda Sanchez of California. The bill – called the Wise Investment in our Children Act, or WIC Act – would help eliminate a prevalent “nutrition gap” among 5-year-olds in the United States, said DeLauro. WIC provides nutrition services for low-income children up until their fifth birthday when, according to DeLauro, it is assumed they will enter kindergarten and become eligible for free or reduced-priced school meals.