How to apply for California WIC

View the steps to apply for the California WIC program. The California Department of Public Health administrates WIC in the state including the application process. View the steps below to see if you qualify, and if so, what you need to do to apply. If you still have questions or issues about the application process, you can contact the California WIC office for assistance.

WIC Prescreening

Before you start the California WIC application process, you can use the online prescreening tool to see if you qualify. Please note, this tool is not considered an application. You will still need to follow the application process for this state. It takes about 15 minutes to complete the prescreening tool.

What does the WIC program offer

For qualified participants, the California WIC program provides:

  • Practical nutrition information and everyday healthy living tips for you and your family
  • Nutrition experts who specialize in nutrition for mothers and their children
  • Support and information about breastfeeding your baby, including access to breastfeeding experts
  • Help in finding health care and other valuable community services
  • Special checks to buy healthy foods

California WIC Eligibility

In order to qualify for benefits you must meet the California WIC Income Guidelines and be in any of the categories listed below:

  • A pregnant woman
  • A woman breastfeeding a baby under 1 year of age
  • A woman who had a baby or was pregnant in the past 6 months
  • A baby up to his or her first birthday
  • A child up to his or her fifth birthday

If you currently receive Medi-Cal, CalWORKS, TANF, CalFresh or SNAP benefits, you may already qualify for California WIC. Babies and children who are cared for by their fathers, guardians or foster parents may also be eligible for California WIC. Working families and migrant families are welcome to apply at any time.

Applying for WIC in California

To start the California WIC application process, you need to call your local WIC agency in California and schedule an appointment.

What you need for your appointment

You need to bring the following information with you to your first appointment:

  • Each person who will be enrolling into the WIC program
  • Proof of identification
  • Proof of residency
  • Proof of income

At your first WIC appointment you should expect the staff to give you a review of the California WIC program services and benefits. There will be an individualized Nutrition Assessment for each qualifying member of your family to determine a nutrition risk, one of the main qualifiers when applying.

How long can I be on WIC?

California WIC is considered to be a short-term program. A person receiving benefits "graduates" once their certification period ends. The certification period is the length of time a person is eligible to receive CA WIC benefits. Depending on the applicant's condition, either pregnant, postpartum, breastfeeding, or an infant/child, an eligible person will usually receive these benefits for up to 6 months to a year. Once they have reached the end of that time, they must apply for California WIC again if they want to continue using it.

WIC waiting list

In some cases, if the state agency does not have enough money to serve everyone who needs WIC, they must keep a list called a waiting list. This contains a list of individuals who want to apply for the California WIC program and are likely to be served. The state agency will then use a special system, called a Priority System, that will allow them to determine who is eligible to receive CA WIC benefits next once more people can be served.

The reason for this priority system is to make sure that services and benefits are available right away to participants who need it most, which are people with serious health conditions such as anemia (low blood levels), history of pregnancy problems or being underweight.

Planning to move

Anyone currently on California WIC that is planning to move, including out of state, can continue receiving WIC benefits until their certification period expires. In order to do that, they must provide proof that they are receiving benefits when they move to their new location. In most cases the staff will provide you with a special card called the Verification of Certification Card (VOC).

To obtain proof, contact your current CA WIC clinic to let them know your plans. When you move, you will need to call your local WIC clinic near your new location and schedule an appointment so you can show them the proof. Make sure to take the special card with you to the appointment to show proof.