Based on the compelling results of the first phase in 2011, First 5 LA has continued to approve funding to support the Little by Little Program. Today, the Little by Little Program is running in 10 WIC sites in Los Angeles County managed by seven different local WIC agencies thanks to a strong collaborative between LA County WIC programs and an interest for the Little by Little Program to have a larger presence.
Since 2012, the Little by Little Program has served more than 200,000 (unique) individuals and distributed more than 965,000 books to children and families.
Building on a Successful WIC Platform
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, also known as WIC, provides supplemental foods, breastfeeding support, health care referrals and nutrition education for low-income pregnant and parenting women, caretakers, and infants and children up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk.
During a family’s visit to the WIC center to receive their regular nutrition education and support, the family is also enrolled in the Little by Little Program. The nutrition counselor highlights themes from materials, based on a script provided by the Little by Little Program delivery software, and delivers on key literacy messages, such as reading to your child at least 15 minutes per day. Each family can have up to four interactions annually, and through the program, the whole family becomes engaged in supporting literacy.
The following are offered during each interaction with their nutritional counselor:
- Informational handouts, categorized by age, about reading, key child development milestones, household safety and family engagement (available in English and Spanish)
- An age-appropriate, high-quality children’s book that the child is allowed to choose and keep (available in English and Spanish)
- Parental advice/guidance tied to child’s development milestones
- Connections to additional community resources—e.g. childcare, developmental screening resources, preschool, SNAP benefits enrollment, Medicaid enrollment
What Makes the Little by Little Program Unique
Among the many early literacy programs available in Los Angeles County, the Little by Little Program carries some unique strengths that contribute to its success.
1. Leverages the existing WIC platform to reach thousands of low-income families in a place that is familiar and where they feel safe.
2. Reaches children ages of 0-5, which is the most critical period in a child’s cognitive development.
3. Employs strong parental engagement and education as part of the intervention. Research tells us that parent involvement in early literacy is directly connected to academic achievement.
Implemented through a partnership between WIC agencies providing services in Los Angeles County, WIC is the ideal platform for reaching infants and children at the highest risk of literacy failure due to poverty. The WIC Program has earned the reputation of being one of the most successful federally funded nutrition programs in the United States. Nationwide, WIC operates in all 50 states plus tribal organizations, and territories. In 2018, WIC served 6.87 million participants, including 53 percent of all infants born in the United States.