If you want to download a printable version of this calendar, click HERE.
If you want to download a printable version of this calendar, click HERE.
Click HERE to open the minutes.
Representatives from Xerox will be presenting their schedule and plan for contacting all interested retailers to prepare you for eWIC in Vermont, piloting in May 2015, and rolling out statewide beginning in October 2015.
This is a very important introduction to our “retailer enablement” project!
Quarterly Vermont WIC Retailer Advisory Council Teleconference
Thursday October 9, 2014 1:00 pm – 1:30 pm
1 Call to Order and Welcome
2 Overview of Xerox Retailer eWIC Readiness Plan
3 Results of 2014 Site Visits
4 Schedule for 2014 Retailer Reauthorization
5 Questions and Next Meeting
TO JOIN THE CALL:
Call-in number: +1 (877) 273-4202
Conference room number: 544 73 08 #
1. Call the call-in number
2. Enter Conference Room Number, press #
3. Hold and you will be placed into the call.
All current WIC retailers and other interested folks are welcome to join our toll-free 30-minute call.
Here at Vermont WIC we frequently get calls and emails with questions that apply to the SNAP (formerly food stamps) EBT program, known in Vermont as 3squaresVT. Vermont WIC does use the same FIS EBT transaction system as 3squaresVT, but our program rules are very different.
We have located a SNAP Retailer Training Guide that may be of assistance to those of you with questions about SNAP/3squares rules. It is posted on the USDA website, and is in PDF version for easy printing:
Of course we welcome your questions and concerns about the Vermont WIC program rules and operations. Email us at email@example.com.
(Vermont WIC has been receiving calls and questions about recent communications received regarding the SNAP program. While the SNAP program is operated by USDA and Vermont’s Department of Children and Families, WIC is operated by the Vermont Department of Health, so our rules, regulations and policies are different. However, Vermont WIC does currently use the SNAP platform for our fruit and veggie EBT card, which means that changes to the SNAP infrastructure do have an impact on Vermont WIC also. A retailer who wants to accept WIC EBT cards for fruits and vegetables must also be able to accept SNAP cards. Therefore, we are reprinting an article of interest. This article is reprinted with permission in its entirety, and without editorial changes, from the August newsletter of the Vermont Retail Grocers Association. We thank the VRGA for allowing us to reprint their article.)
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Retailers will no longer be offered free EBT equipment, supplies and related services (“EBT equipment and services) to participate in SNAP. Such SNAP-authorized retailers should arrange for lease or purchase of EBT equipment and services as soon as they can in order to ensure continued participation in SNAP. If you are retailer utilizing free EBT processing equipment from FIS (Previously J.P.Morgan), they will begin charging fees beginning August 1, 2014. As an alternative to continuing with the FIS supplied equipment and paying the new processing fees (which are high by industry standards), you may want to check with your current credit card processor to see if they can process your EBT transactions and if so, how much are the fees.
VRGA currently has a relationship with: Michele Coons, CPP, Member Services Manager, Retail Council of New York State, 258 State Street, Albany, NY 12210. (518) 465-3586 \ (800) 442-3489.
Click on the “Minutes” link for the 2014-07-10 Grocer Advisory Council, in the right hand column, to read about the meeting. We introduced our new EBT contractor – Xerox, detailed the implementation timeline, and announced that Rutland will be our pilot District Office.
The Vermont Department of Health is among the first five state health departments to achieve national accreditation by the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB). The national accreditation program works to improve and protect the health of the public by advancing the quality and performance of the nation’s Tribal, state, local and territorial public health departments.
“I am very proud to say that Vermont is one of the first state health departments to achieve this distinction,” said Health Commissioner Harry Chen, MD. “This means we have demonstrated that Vermonters are served by a high performing public health department and workforce at our central offices and laboratory in Burlington, and through our 12 district offices around the state. We are working for your health every day.”
The national accreditation program, jointly supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, sets standards against which the nation’s more than 3,000 governmental public health departments can continuously improve the quality of their services and performance. To become accredited, a health department must undergo a rigorous, multi-faceted peer-reviewed assessment process to ensure it meets or exceeds a set of quality standards and measures. To date, five statewide health departments – Florida, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Washington and Vermont – and 39 local health departments have been accredited.
“As one of the first state health departments established in the country, we have been working to protect and promote the health of Vermonters for more than 125 years, and we are proud to continue this long tradition,” said Dr. Chen. “By continuing to strengthen our leadership and partnerships, services and performance, we can be sure we are meeting the present and future public health needs of our state as effectively as possible.”
The Vermont WIC Program, one of the most wide-reaching programs within VDH, is proud to have contributed to this accreditation effort. We thank all of WIC’s friends in Vermont for ongoing support.
At month’s close, the contracting process with Xerox is almost concluded. As previously noted, as soon as Xerox is on board, their first task is to review the interface design plans from our MIS contractor, Ciber, to connect our MIS system Ceres with the Xerox EBT Host. Xerox also will begin working with our retailers to ready them for connecting to Xerox for online EBT transactions.
Through the dogged persistence of the project leadership and state team, our MIS EBT project is still on time, despite the delays over the change in EBT contractor and the second procurement process. The original projected schedule (set over a year ago) named June 1, 2014 as the beginning of the next phase (Development/Implementation), and we will be holding our first Implementation Meeting with the full project management team the first week in June.
There is actually relatively little “development” involved in the project, as Ceres (Vermont’s system name) is an MIS already in operation for several years in three Mountain Plains WIC state agencies. The MIS will be transferred to Vermont and operated on state servers by state IT staff. Xerox is hosting their own EBT system under a service agreement with Vermont. The only development work of note is the adjustments necessary to use Ceres for Xerox online EBT, as the Mountain Plains states currently use either paper vouchers (UT, CO) or offline EBT (WY).
State WIC staff have begun the process of configuring Ceres for our WIC operations, a process we call “Vermontizing” the MIS. This involves reviewing all the pulldown menus, checklists, interview prompts, food packages, printouts and other user interfaces, to make sure they reflect our WIC program.
Information on all our current WIC vendors has already been uploaded, and work has begun to convert existing WIC participant information from our mainframe database to Ceres specs, allowing for upload of each District Office’s caseload prior to rollout.
The Readiness Coordinator Network (RCN), our cadre of representatives from each District Office, continues to meet monthly, communicate project news to local WIC staff, and provide feedback to the project team. RCN members have also taken on projects that are part of our “Clinic Enablement” subproject. They are currently concluding their site surveys of all main and outreach clinics, documenting important information about power sources and internet and wireless access; this information will help the state team plan and implement the necessary network and other modifications necessary for clinic access to Ceres. Procurement orders have been issued for computers, screens, signature pads and other equipment for clinics, also.
The state team wants to thank everyone involved for their persistence and determination to successfully complete tasks and stay on schedule. On to the next phase!
Our project leadership and state team continue to work on securing a contract with Xerox to replace JP Morgan Chase (JPMC) as our EBT contractor for the project. Both the External Reviewer for, and the Commissioner of DII have given a strong “Go” vote to our selection of Xerox, and the current wait is simply for the machinery of state contract approval processes.
As soon as Xerox is on board, their first task will be to review the interface design plans from our WIC enterprise MIS contractor, Ciber, to connect the MIS with the Xerox EBT host. When that is complete, efforts will turn to getting our retailers ready to connect to Xerox for the online EBT transactions.
Vermont state WIC staff are finalizing the new Approved Products List (APL) and food packages that will launch with our pilot, still scheduled for a May 2015 start. Selection of the WIC District Office to serve as the pilot is also underway, and should be done by mid-June 2014.
All of the major plans required for implementation — such things as Training, Testing, and so on – are ready to go. We are reaching completion of our Planning and Design phases, therefore, and hope to officially start Development/Implementation phase on June 1, 2014.