HHSC Launches Spanish-Speaking Chatbot for WIC Clients

News Release
Texas Health and Human Services Commission
Cecile Erwin Young
HHS Executive Commissioner
November 19, 2021
Ty Bishop, 512-424-6951

AUSTIN – The Texas Health and Human Services Commission is connecting with Spanish-speaking Texans through Maya, a chatbot that provides information in Spanish about the WIC services available to new mothers and families with young children. Spanish is the primary language in more than 35 percent of Texas homes receiving WIC services.

Families can find Maya on the Texas WIC website in Spanish. The chatbot is an easy-to-use, automated online communication tool that answers common questions tailored to a user’s needs.

“We’re excited to introduce this tool for people with questions about nutrition, breastfeeding and how to access support for their families,” Texas WIC Director Edgar Curtis said. “We can reach many more Spanish-speaking WIC clients when it is most convenient for them. We take great pride in providing great resources to our clients, families and communities.”

Texas WIC used a special project grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to develop the chatbot. Before implementing Maya, program staff worked with researchers at Texas State University to evaluate the virtual assistant and ensure the usefulness and functionality of its features. The school also helped with the implementation of the English version of the chatbot last year. The researchers will continue to monitor the chatbot to identify improvements.

The chatbot translation is just the latest effort to improve the experience of people seeking information about Texas WIC services. In January, Texas WIC began offering live chat and two-way texting services. The live chat and texting platform provide options to seamlessly transition the chat to voice and video calls without requiring users to download an app.

About Texas WIC

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), which is administered by Texas HHSC, is a nutrition program for pregnant women, breastfeeding women and families with children younger than 5. Texas WIC helps improve the diets of infants and children as well as pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding women by providing monthly healthy food packages, nutrition counseling, education and breastfeeding support. For more information, visit the Texas WIC website.