DHEC: WIC benefits will be extended, but employees may have to b - WCBD-TV: News, Weather, and Sports for Charleston, SC

DHEC: WIC benefits will be extended, but employees may have to be furloughed

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Amanda Martin looks through her WIC vouchers at a Pelion grocery Wed. Amanda Martin looks through her WIC vouchers at a Pelion grocery Wed.

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control announced Friday that the Women, Infant and Children program, or WIC, would be extended through October 31.  Previously, it was projected that the program would run out of funding by October 15.

READ MORE: 122,000 SC Women & Children Could Lose Food in Govt Shutdown

With the fourth day of the government shutdown coming to a close, DHEC has announced a contingency plan to help keep WIC running.

 "To make sure that the 122,000 low-income families that we serve through WIC continue receiving essential nutritional services during the federal shutdown, DHEC is dipping into agency savings and asking our employees to make some sacrifices," said DHEC Director Catherine Templeton.

Templeton says to keep the program running, DHEC may be forced to furlough their 3,500 employees in 2013-2014.

"This will help provide the funds necessary to continue the WIC program should the federal government decide not to reimburse states for money spent to continue the program during the shutdown," Templeton said.

The government shutdown has left 784 DHEC employees without a paycheck. DHEC says it costs $2.6m to keep WIC, hospital certification and nuclear oversight programs running.

"We are hopeful that the federal government will reimburse the state for its work during this time, but if not, the employees at DHEC are pulling together to make sure the citizens of South Carolina are protected and supported," Templeton said.

There will be no furloughs unless the federal government does not reimburse South Carolina for the program costs. However, the plan has to be recognized and approved now so there is an identified funding stream to keep these programs going.

"It is important to maintain these services and protections, but it would be irresponsible to run a deficit and hope someone bails us out," said Templeton. "This is a solid plan that is a win-win for the citizens of South Carolina, and I thank the employees of DHEC for their dedication and their contribution."

Information provided by the Department of Health and Environmental Control

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