Maternal and Child Health Journal

, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 326–332 | Cite as

Formative Research to Examine Collaboration Between Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Woman, Infants, and Children and Head Start Programs

  • Katie S. MartinEmail author
  • Michele Wolff
  • Marilyn Lonczak
  • Marjorie Chambers
  • Caroline Cooke
  • Grace Whitney
Notes from the Field


Both the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and Head Start/Early Head Start (HS/EHS) Programs serve low-income women and children at high risk for health disparities, yet they do not have a formal state-level partnership in Connecticut. Both programs serve children up to age five, yet children’s participation in the WIC Program declines sharply after 2 years of age, limiting the potential benefits of cross-program participation. The goal of this study is to examine current and prospective collaboration efforts among the WIC and HS/EHS Programs in Connecticut and identify barriers to collaboration. An online survey was administered to staff from both programs. Six focus groups were held in January, 2012 with staff and participants from both programs. Results showed areas of existing collaboration between local WIC and HS/EHS Programs, yet also identified many areas where relationships could be strengthened or established. Common themes that were identified included a need for more knowledge among staff about the other program, collaboration involving sharing of client information, and improving referral procedures. Staff from both programs strongly expressed interest in a cross-program collaboration (73 % of HS staff and 86 % of WIC staff). This research serves as a framework for how a state-level collaboration could be established in Connecticut, to enable these two programs to work together more efficiently and effectively for the benefit of mothers and children. Results can provide other State WIC Programs with a blueprint for collaborating with HS/EHS.


Head Start, Women, Infants, and Children Program Inter-agency collaboration Child nutrition 



This project has been funded at least in part with Federal funds from US Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service, 2011 WIC Special Projects Concept Paper Grant. The content of this publication does not necessarily reflect the view or policies of the US Department of Agriculture, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the US Government. We thank the Connecticut Department of Public Health WIC Program State agency staff and Connecticut Head Start State Collaboration Office for their contribution to this project. We also thank the local WIC and Head Start Program staff and participants for their time and for sharing their thoughts and feedback.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katie S. Martin
    • 1
    Email author
  • Michele Wolff
    • 2
  • Marilyn Lonczak
    • 3
  • Marjorie Chambers
    • 3
  • Caroline Cooke
    • 3
  • Grace Whitney
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Allied Health SciencesUniversity of ConnecticutStorrsUSA
  2. 2.University of Connecticut Health CenterFarmingtonUSA
  3. 3.CT Department of Public HealthHartfordUSA
  4. 4.Connecticut Head Start State Collaboration OfficeHartfordUSA

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