Decreasing Disparities in Child Development Assessment: Identifying and Discussing Possible Delays in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)

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Abstract

Objective:

To assess how staff at the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) address potential developmental delays and parent developmental concerns in children <5 years.

Methods:

A Web-based survey of Oregon WIC staff in nonadministrative roles assessed staff interactions with parents regarding concerning child development/behavior, perceptions of connectedness with local developmental resources, and knowledge of typical child development.

Results:

Staff (N = 153) responses indicated knowledge of typical child development, frequent interactions with families about child development, and frequent noticing of developmental concerns. However, most staff reported being less than very well connected to developmental resources. Open-ended responses suggested that staff frequently make direct referrals to early intervention, public health nurses, and others who can further assess developmental concerns.

Conclusion:

Although it is outside the primary scope of their work, developmental and behavioral concerns are frequently raised and addressed by WIC staff. Findings suggest that strengthening the existing referral processes and enhancing continuity of care between WIC and developmental providers may improve child outcomes and reduce disparities.

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