Women, Infants and Children, or WIC, is more than a food program. A new study finds while serving families with health and nutrition services, WIC employees frequently recognize and address developmental and behavioral concerns in children.
The study, published in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, found WIC staff go outside their scope of work to talk with families about problems beyond nutrition. Study co-author Julie Reeder has been with WIC for 16 years. She says staff members tend to hear most about developmental delays related to speech and behavior.
“We’re talking about not socially interacting with other children in the way that you would expect for that age and stage of their development,” says Reeder. “Not talking at a certain age, it could be other delays with their motor development.”
Reeder says they were surprised to find most WIC staffers talk to parents about concerns like these on a weekly basis. The research also found that those staffers don’t feel connected with the early intervention resources or pediatric health care providers that could help.
The WIC program is federally funded and Reeder says at this time, they are in a position to serve any interested family.