Oregon WIC Program at 30
A Closer Look at Who’s Delivering WIC Services and What’s Needed to Move WIC into its Fourth Decade
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) has evolved from a commodity supplemental food program to a primary source of nutrition education, breastfeeding promotion and support, and referrals for pregnant women and families with young children. With an increased emphasis on addressing complex health issue such as obesity, the State of Oregon WIC program sought better understand the personal and professional backgrounds of those delivering WIC services. The goal of this article is to describe 1) who is delivering nutrition education and determining nutritional risk in the Oregon WIC program, 2) what training they have received, and 3) what additional training they would like to receive. Data were gathered through self-administered questionnaires from three hundred and five local agency WIC staff representing the 34 local WIC agencies in Oregon. Only one-third of local agency staff had earned a Bachelor’s degree or higher and the amount of additional training received varied considerably. While the majority of staff felt they had received sufficient training to do their jobs, when asked specifically about completion of required training modules a number of gaps were evident. Respondents expressed interest in expanding training methods beyond written modules and requested training materials in languages other than English. In addition, a lack of continuing education opportunities for paraprofessional staff was noted. An expansion of methods for local agency staff to achieve desired competencies for their position is needed. Communication with decision makers about the importance of supporting training opportunities, particularly for paraprofessional is vital.