WIC question -- more of a morality issue than a financial one - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 60 Old 06-24-2011, 07:23 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We are getting licensed to do foster care, hoping for a baby we can eventually adopt. We are doing reasonably well financially, but would like to stay in the "reasonably well" category by not incurring thousands in adoption fees.

 

I know that whatever child is placed in our will be eligible for WIC and maybe other benefits. My question is, is it wrong to collect on WIC for the child, and then donate whatever we get in the form of diapers or formula that we don't need (we use cloth diapers and have a friend who may be able to pump for us if we can time it right)? It seems like stealing, even if it is going to be donated to a women's shelter/food bank instead of being sold for profit. But then, people who need the food bank/shelters are often in need of state-sponsored assistance anyway (even if they don't actually receive it), so it's a wash, right? WWYD?

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#2 of 60 Old 06-24-2011, 09:43 PM
 
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You won't get diapers from WIC.

 

There may be a way you can get something else from WIC, if you explain that you do not use formula and that you won't be able to breastfeed. And you'll only get formula for the first year, anyway, and then you'll start getting food for the child. (Milk, cheese, etc.)

 

I don't think it's a bad thing to donate anything you don't use. It doesn't seem like stealing at all.  

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#3 of 60 Old 06-24-2011, 09:58 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swd12422 View Post
It seems like stealing ...


 

If it seems like stealing, it probably is stealing. Your gut is usually right.

 

I'm not completely clear on the situation. Are you collecting benefits simply to donate them or are you in need of some of them and donating the surplus? If you don't need something and aren't going to use it, then I do think it's wrong to collect. You would be taking resources away from people who need it and I don't think giving it to someone else who may also need it makes the situation right. If you want to decide who gets diapers, formula, etc., you should buy some with your own money to donate to whom you see fit. However, if you truly need some of the benefits, I don't think it's wrong to collect those. If you can't collect the benefits you need while also refusing those you don't, then I wouldn't consider it wrong to donate the unwanted extras that were forced upon you. I'm not sure how WIC works, so you'll have to excuse me if my assumptions are off.


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#4 of 60 Old 06-24-2011, 10:01 PM
 
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I am vegan and get 32 quarts of soy milk a month as well as the other stuff and $16 of fresh fruits and veggies. The other stuff is cereal, bread and peanut butter, we sometimes keep the peanut butter.  My baby doesn't eat jar food so I don't see any reason to keep more than a few. I'll grab a jar if I know were going out and not going to eat so if he gets hungry he can have a snack, but other than that I give it all to the food bank. They also give me coupons with jars of meat on them even though I complain each time, I don't get that though.

So yeah, I don't know what they give 'formula' fed babies but for breast fed babies they start giving jars of food at six months. So you could probably get that depending on the age of the baby you adopt. Or maybe ask your friend who is going to donate milk to you if they could benefit from the WIC items even if they don't qualify!


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#5 of 60 Old 06-24-2011, 10:01 PM
 
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WIC doesn't give out diapers.  You may not be "allowed" to give the baby donated breastmilk unless it is from a milk bank that tests donors and their milk.  I don't think it is stealing, you are getting benefits the baby is entitled to and it will help out on expenses quite a bit.


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#6 of 60 Old 06-24-2011, 10:10 PM
 
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Outside of the morality of the situation, as PPs mentioned already, I would be surprised if a child placed in a foster situation would be okayed to be fed breastmilk that was not from an authorized milk bank. 

 

That said, I don't think it would be morally wrong, per se, but it doesn't make sense.  WIC is fairly easy to qualify for, so if you need it you can just get your own.  By taking it, and then just donating the items, you're basically just adding a step in the donation process, IMO.  I guess if you knew a family who really needed the help but did not qualify for some wierd reason, that could be moral?


 

 

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#7 of 60 Old 06-24-2011, 10:19 PM
 
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I want to add that WIC isn't about "taking resources away from people who need it", in fact the opposite is true.  The more people who qualify and receive WIC the more money the government allocates to the program.


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#8 of 60 Old 06-25-2011, 05:18 AM
 
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My daughter currently is a participant in the WIC program and when she was still breastfeeding/using organic baby formula I just didn't take the formula that was listed on the checks. The main purpose of WIC is to provide nutrition and nutritional advice for people at risk so in that sense, it might be best for people who qualify to actually participate in the program rather than receive formulas or food via an indirect process.


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#9 of 60 Old 06-25-2011, 07:21 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swd12422 View Post

We are getting licensed to do foster care, hoping for a baby we can eventually adopt. We are doing reasonably well financially, but would like to stay in the "reasonably well" category by not incurring thousands in adoption fees.

 

I know that whatever child is placed in our will be eligible for WIC and maybe other benefits. My question is, is it wrong to collect on WIC for the child, and then donate whatever we get in the form of diapers or formula that we don't need (we use cloth diapers and have a friend who may be able to pump for us if we can time it right)? It seems like stealing, even if it is going to be donated to a women's shelter/food bank instead of being sold for profit. But then, people who need the food bank/shelters are often in need of state-sponsored assistance anyway (even if they don't actually receive it), so it's a wash, right? WWYD?

Ok, I may be off on some of this because it all varies so wildly:

-we've applying to be foster parents and would get a specific amount per day to help cover the cost of diapers and formula if the baby needs them. This doesn't happen everywhere, so call and ask.

-you're adopting from foster care which generally takes a while to happen. While the baby is still in foster care, you receive a monthly stipend. I've read about some places that continue to offer the monthly stipend for awhile after adoption. I guess this is to encourage adoption when a child needs a home instead of keeping them as foster children...

-The US gov't is offering huge incentives to help cover adoption fees. Found this with minimal googling, I assume it's right: http://taxes.about.com/od/deductionscredits/qt/adoptioncredit.htm and for Canada: http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/tx/ndvdls/tpcs/ncm-tx/rtrn/cmpltng/ddctns/lns300-350/313/menu-eng.html

 

I say if you qualify for WIC (not sure of the guidelines) and would USE IT, then go ahead, sign up. But I don't get the purpose if you're taking it just to donate? It seems odd... Also, while the baby is in foster care you probably WILL NOT be allowed to feed it donated breast milk without permission from the biomom. Once YOU are the legal parent, you can feed the baby whatever you want but I believe the process takes a while. 

 

Your best bet is to look into the adoption tax credit etc. WIC is small potatoes compared to the savings there. Again, I have NO idea if the above info applies to you because it varies so much. You should call your agency to find out more. I'm actually surprised it hasn't come up yet. 

 

 


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#10 of 60 Old 06-25-2011, 07:47 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Good point about the BM.... I never thought of that.

 

To clarify, *I* don't qualify for WIC. Income is too high. But b/c the baby will be in foster care, not legally a part of our family yet, the baby will be on WIC. When we adopted our son, he was in foster care and on WIC with his foster family. He was placed with us at 4 months, but adoption wasn't final til he was 2. It was a very clear-cut case, just had lots of court delays, but since we knew he was "ours" from the start, I didn't do WIC, even though I could have. The foster mom dumped a carload of formula, diapers and baby food on us, and said, "Here's his WIC allotment for the month." I didn't use most of it. But the way she presented it, I assumed the diapers were part of WIC; if they're not, she must have used her stipend on them.

 

We did get a monthly stipend for DS, which was ridiculous b/c a) we didn't "need" it (we tried to refuse it, but they couldn't "do that" so we put it in a savings account for him) and b) it's not nearly enough to pay for disposable diapers, wipes, AND clothes, even if you shop Walmart on sale. And the stipend decreases based on when they feel the baby should be off formula/starting solids, but none of that is relevant b/c WIC provides the food, not the stipend.

 

Anyway, it really made me feel for the families who do need these services, b/c they are clearly lacking in organization (at least they seem to be here -- as someone pointed out, it's different everywhere). And I'm sure that there are so many families who use the food bank but can't qualify for other services, so I thought it would be a good way to donate. We are doing fine, but it is hard to find money in our budget to buy stuff to donate.

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#11 of 60 Old 06-25-2011, 08:32 AM
 
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delete

 


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#12 of 60 Old 06-25-2011, 08:33 AM
 
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edited after re-reading post


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#13 of 60 Old 06-25-2011, 09:54 AM
 
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In 99% percent of this country, you will be expected to give the baby formula. It's best to just accept that going in because it's the way it is and it's perfectly fine. You can not look at my children and tell that they drank formula as infants. You just can't. They are perfectly happy, healthy, and normal children.

 

In some places, you will be required to put, or keep) a foster child on WIC. It's not required here so we go off and on as my financial situation changes. I would definitely use it for formula. That stuff is expensive. After age one, brown rice, beans, whole wheat bread, whole wheat tortillas, etc are part of the WIC package. WIC is just part of the "compensation package" you get  when you foster a child under five years old. My kids are adopted and I'll receive post-adoption subsidy for each until their 18th birthdays. I would NEVER turn that down.

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#14 of 60 Old 06-25-2011, 09:56 AM
 
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To answer the morality question, technically you aren't supposed to give away, or sell, anything you get from WIC. However, I used to end up with a ton of milk and have donated that to needy families before.

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#15 of 60 Old 06-25-2011, 12:11 PM
 
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I always got everything WIC offered.  If we absolutely could not use it in time we would start passing it out to family and neighbors.  WIC is offering some really healthy stuff these days.  I would get what you can use and donate the money you save.  If you get a stipend you can just start a college/adoption fund for your baby.

 

Also I would not count on being able to give him breast milk.  My friend did a private adoption and could not give breastmilk to the baby until she left the hospital, even though the birth mom gave permission.  I do not know of any foster parent personally who has been allowed to give breastmilk.  You may need those vouchers for formula.


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#17 of 60 Old 06-25-2011, 02:25 PM
 
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You do not have to take the items on the WIC  checks. We would never use 8 1/2 gallons of milk a month so I often just decline it. Like was mentioned above you can lose WIC by giving stuff away.

 

I would also be very careful (I know this has been said too) about giving the baby breastmilk until the baby is officially adopted. Otherwise you are likely to lose the chance to foster or adopt again if you are discovered.


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#18 of 60 Old 06-26-2011, 08:34 PM
 
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I'd talk to your WIC counselor, get the check to reflect as much as possible the foods your family can actually use, and just not buy any inappropriate items s/he insists on putting on there. As others have said, formula is probably what you'll end up feeding your foster baby, so the WIC will come in handy. I would not donate WIC items as a habit, but if it's going to go bad before you use it, sure.

Our family just had a foster child for 8 days, and social services very quickly sent a check for $100 to cover initial expenses (it was his first time in the system). So I feel you on the hesitation to use the benefit. Even though I spent more than $100 outfitting J, it will be a cold day in hell before I take government money to pay for the things I bought him. They were gifts from us to him. Since we don't need the money, it feels so wrong to take it that I am giving the money to his new foster mother, who can buy him MORE clothes. BUT, if our next placement is longer-term, there will be nobody to hand the money to. We could not cash the checks like idiots, we could start a savings account for the child and risk the money disappearing if he is later placed with unscrupulous folks - or we could spend it on clothes and toys. I imagine I will spend it on clothes and toys. It will be HIS money, after all - not ours to accept or reject.
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#19 of 60 Old 06-27-2011, 11:43 AM
 
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I wouldn't do it, only for the fact that receiving WIC is a huge PITA! Even if you get to skip ahead all of the application process, just receiving it is a pain. At least for me it was because you have to go to the office every 3rd month I think to pick up the checks (in between they mail them) and the scheduling never works, they are always behind so you sit in crowded, dirty, germ-filled rooms of grouchy people and then the WIC people were always rude. Also, you have to bring your child so they can weigh them, etc. I know at a year old they do a finger prick and I absolutely refused to let them do that just so I could get some free food. It isn't worth it! If you want to donate, then look for formula coupons that you can give away. You can sign up at all the formula websites for free cans and for coupons. Anyway, that is just my two cents! GL with the adoption!

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#20 of 60 Old 06-27-2011, 03:51 PM
 
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It doesn't work that way every where.  We always had to go in, every month to pick up checks.   It usually took about 5 minutes.  Once every six months they would weigh the kids and get a food journal, do a finger poke (honestly, i liked having this information and I feel a finger poke was a small price to pay for free food.  But I needed it.)  We had to meet with a dietitian once.  That actually did suck but that was still only about 15 minutes.    The offices were clean and the staff was friendly (but I didn't rock the boat much and tried to be pleasant.  I know they must hate their job most days).  I actually enjoyed and appreciated WIC so much that I have thought about going back to school for social work and/or nutrition in hopes of working in a WIC office. 


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#21 of 60 Old 06-27-2011, 05:32 PM
 
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WIC must vary a lot from region to region. I know folks who love it and folks who'd literally rather hit the food bank than sign up again, and they all seem like reasonable folks who'd be willing to jump through reasonable hoops...
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#22 of 60 Old 06-27-2011, 10:56 PM
 
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If I had the money, as it sounds like you do, and I planned on adopting the baby, I wouldn't be comfortable spending tax dollars on my baby. It's MY baby and MY responsibility, not the taxpayers.

 

That said, we did take the adoption tax credit. Somehow that felt different to me. I guess it's because we weren't talking basic care here, we were talking extraordinary expenses that an average (biological) parent wouldn't have to pay. But everyone feeds their baby.

 

So, I guess you have to figure what your inner moral compass says. 


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#23 of 60 Old 06-28-2011, 06:18 AM
 
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Because you are looking at adopting through the foster care system, and unfortunately, adoptions frequently end up not going through (a family member is found or parents get baby back), I would take the help until the adoption is finalized.


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#24 of 60 Old 06-28-2011, 06:30 AM
 
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That's what my DH says, too. 

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#25 of 60 Old 06-28-2011, 06:54 AM
 
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We are on WIC.  Until a year, you get baby food, cereal, and formula.  We took the first two and declined the formula.  I always felt kind of guilty declining the formula since I could've donated it, but I felt weird accepting it since it would've meant lying about breastfeeding!  We gave the cereal and baby food to our neighbors (well, we ate some of the baby food since the fruit ones are tasty, but gave most of it away).  After a year, you get vouchers for fruits & veggies (which we always use), and coupons for some things we use (whole wheat bread, beans, rice, cereal) and one that we give away (milk).  I never thought it was unethical.  Never even occurred to me that sharing was unethical, though I understand it goes against the rules.  Some ethics are beyond rules.  Some of the jarred baby food went to our women's shelter.  I think maybe it would've been unethical to NOT pass it along.  Just a thought.

 

I know tons of people who could qualify for WIC or SNAP (food stamps) who won't apply.  Whether it's the stigma or the b.s. you have to put up with for receiving assistance, I don't know.


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#26 of 60 Old 06-28-2011, 07:20 AM
 
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FYI - WIC is just as much a farm subsidy (it is run by the USDA, after all) as it is a help to people who qualify.  It is a creative way to package a subsidy, but in the end, it's a subsidy.  Knowing that may blur some of the morality issue.

 

Depending on what state you live in, your exact food package will differ, as will your experience at your local WIC office.  (Having been on WIC in three states, I can tell you that the experience not only differs from state to state, but from local office to local office.)  I'd certainly use it for the formula - as others have mentioned, the biomom and/or CPS would have to approve breastmilk to be given to a child while in foster care.  You don't have to get everything on the vouchers if it makes you feel like you are stealing.


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#27 of 60 Old 06-28-2011, 05:51 PM
 
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I just consider it part of the foster care subsidy package. I wouldn't turn down the monthly stipend and at times I go to the WIC office. In fact, I was just there this morning. I got $30 in fruit/veggie vouchers that have to be spent this month (the $6 regular voucher plus $24 to "spend" at the farmer's market.)

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#28 of 60 Old 06-28-2011, 06:08 PM
 
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Haven't read through entire thread, but I don't think it is a morality issue to take stuff from WIC and give it to someone who needs it.  However, I don't see the point either, because you're just moving around "assistance" and it seems like a lot of work without any payoff.  If you are giving it to a shelter, 99% of the women there are already receiving WIC (and I am pretty certain of this having worked in social services). 

 

Be careful with the breastmilk.  I understand your desire for the baby to receive breastmilk and the benefits, but your social worker might be VERY angry about this and this could potentially be a licensing issue in which your license could be revoked.  Many people would view this as a serious health issue for you to give the baby breastmilk from someone who hasn't been tested/approved.  Could you arrange for this mother to do this?  You need to remember that you aren't the legal guardian of this child and the legal guardian is to be making choices like this.  If they are on board, great.  If not, you're setting yourself up for a potentially heartbreaking situation for you. 

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#29 of 60 Old 06-28-2011, 06:10 PM
 
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Oh, and I just wanted to add that I would *not* feel guilty about any of the assistance you receive under your foster care license.  There are a billion uses for the money which can benefit your child, even if you don't "need" that money. 

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#30 of 60 Old 06-28-2011, 06:50 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SundayCrepes View Post

If I had the money, as it sounds like you do, and I planned on adopting the baby, I wouldn't be comfortable spending tax dollars on my baby. It's MY baby and MY responsibility, not the taxpayers.

 

That said, we did take the adoption tax credit. Somehow that felt different to me. I guess it's because we weren't talking basic care here, we were talking extraordinary expenses that an average (biological) parent wouldn't have to pay. But everyone feeds their baby.

 

The thing is: a foster child is NOT your baby.  And when it IS your baby, you will no longer qualify for these benefits.  Until the adoption is final, you are caring for someone else's baby; and these things are to pay for that care.  Sorry, but the reality is that until the case plan goal becomes "adoption", there is no way to know if you will ever adopt a foster child--no matter how seemingly impossible reunification looks.  Countless things happen.  And even when the case plan is changed, you still have a chance at it not being YOUR adoption.

 

These benefits are essentially your compensation and reimbursement for caring for the child as an employee of the state.  Period.  You will certainly LOVE that child like your own; but please don't look at supporting them and buying their things as your responsibility because "they're going to be" your child.  They may never be your child.  And if you start framing your mind to act like they are before they actually are--and then they leave... then what?  How much resentment will you feel?  If not the first time it happens, then the second, third or fourth...? 

 



Quote:
Originally Posted by APToddlerMama View Post

Oh, and I just wanted to add that I would *not* feel guilty about any of the assistance you receive under your foster care license.  There are a billion uses for the money which can benefit your child, even if you don't "need" that money. 


yeahthat.gif   Maybe not in the first few weeks, but it all catches up.

 

 

Last, if I'm not mistaken, California allows foster kids to consume breastmilk.  Not positive, but I think so.  That being said, it's the ONLY state where there appears to even be a possibility.  My ped in NJ actually went to court on behalf of a failure-to-thrive foster infant with an able nursing foster mother and a willing birthmother... and the state won.  The ped said that the amount of misinformation the court relied on was astounding and appalling, but they outnumbered the correct info (as usual).  So don't bank on winning that battle.  My son nursed until he was 5yo.  My daughter was (and still is) ffd.  She is way better attached and more developmentally on target than he could've ever hoped to be at her age.  And equally healthy.  Go figure.

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Heather - Wife , Mommy  & Health & Wellness Educator, Speaker & Consultant 
 
Dairy, soy & corn free with limited gluten... yes, really. And journeying towards peace.  Blogging about both.
 
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