Healthy Children - August 2017

Improving Child Participation and Retention in Illinois WIC

The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) WIC Special Supplemental Program for Women, Infants, and Children (Illinois WIC), is partnering with faculty at University of Illinois at Chicago, Department of Kinesiology and Nutrition (UIC-KN) to launch a new program call “WIC to 5”.

Background

  • Illinois WIC is a nutrition program that provides supplemental food, nutrition education, and health care referrals to low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and post-partum women, infants, and children up to the age of five.
  • Half of all infants and one fourth of all children in the United States, aged 1-4 years, participate in WIC.
  • As the third largest food and nutrition assistance program, WIC’s positive contribution to the health of participating infants and children has been well established.
  • Despite these positive effects, there are many WIC-eligible children who do not participate on the program. Similar to rates nationally, in Illinois an estimated 45% of WIC eligible children between the ages of 1 and 4 years never enroll or terminate participation prior to their first birthday.
  • Similar to rates nationally, in Illinois an estimated 45% of WIC eligible children between the ages of 1 and 4 years never enroll or terminate participation prior to their first birthday.

Description of the program

  • The purpose of “WIC to 5” is to increase WIC participation and retention among eligible children in Illinois
  • Interviews and surveys were conducted with over 100 WIC clients, WIC staff, child care providers, and health care providers to identify the major barriers and facilitators related to WIC participation and to inform the development of the program.
  • The “Wic to 5” initiative will include a social marketing campaign, WIC staff training and outreach, and strategic partnerships with health care providers and child care providers, as well as other community partners that serve low-income women and children across the state.
  • Partners include the Illinois Chapter of American Academy of Pediatrics and Illinois Academy of Family Physicians.
  • The program is being piloted with four WIC agencies including McLean County WIC, Vermilion County WIC, Macon County WIC, and Roseland Hospital WIC program
  • After evaluation the pilot program, “WIC to 5” will be disseminated throughout Illinois in 2014.

For more information, please contact Angela Odoms-Young, PhD, Assistant Professor, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 312-355-0383.