2014 WIC Special Project Grant
Connecticut WIC implemented the WIC and Head Start Better Together Collaboration Project, which established a formal partnership between Connecticut’s WIC and Head Start programs to increase participation and retention in both programs for the overall health and welfare of families. Both the WIC and Head Start programs serve low-income women, children up to age five, and families.
Even though all families who qualify for Head Start are also eligible for WIC, only half of these families are co-enrolled in both programs. The project was comprised of two groups; an intervention and a comparison, made up of multiple WIC and Head Start sites from across Connecticut. The goal was to formalize a partnership on two levels, one at the state level and one at the local level. A state memorandum of understanding (MOU) was created to formalize participant data sharing among WIC local agencies, Head Start grantees and both State entities for WIC and Head Start. Local level MOU’s were either updated or developed to promote collaboration and communication between the local WIC and Head Start programs. Through the surveys and exit interviews it was found that the WIC and Head Start programs in both the intervention and comparison groups increased: perception of collaboration, sharing of participant data, referrals, exchange of program information between WIC and Head Start, coordination of nutrition education and outreach, and tracking of referrals. Both WIC and Head Start focus on healthy outcomes for their participants. Collaborating to share nutrition education and outreach materials between programs locally increases the visibility of each program.
With sustained collaboration between WIC and Head Start, the families who participate in both of the programs could see improved health outcomes from an increase in services. Collaboration takes time to build and requires a process to ensure accountability and sustainability. Developing a system of collaboration between WIC and Head Start is feasible, but it requires patience, time and resources. To learn more about the project, download the final report and view a training video, visit the WIC and Head Start Better Together Collaboration Project website.