DHEC’s WIC program is going a little farther this winter to encourage parents to learn the signs of healthy development with its implementation of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Learn the Signs. Act Early. Program.
According to the CDC, the “Learn the Signs. Act Early” program aims to improve the early identification of children with autism and other developmental disabilities so children and families can get the services and support they need.
It is important to identify developmental delays and disabilities. The CDC reports that 1 in 6 children aged 3-17 years have developmental disabilities. The S.C. WIC program will aid parents in identifying these disabilities or delays sooner than later.
As of Jan. 4, 2022, WIC began implementing this new program to its participants. As part of the program, parents will complete a milestone checklist. The list can be completed by paper or through the milestone tracker app.
By monitoring their children’s milestones using the simple checklist, parents can identify what skills are typical at certain ages. It also aids parents to recognize when to act if they have concerns or if there are signs of possible developmental delay or disability.
WIC providers recognize how a child plays, learn, speak, act, and move for their age are important signs of a child’s healthy growth and development. When a child’s development is delayed, WIC providers also know the value of a timely referral to support both the child and family.
From June 1, 2021 – August 31, 2021, the Moncks Corner Health Department, and the Bluffton Health Department of the Lowcountry region piloted the program.
During that time:
- 514 participants were educated on the developmental milestones
- 35 participants were referred for developmental screening
- 858 Milestone Matter lessons were completed on WICs’ online education platform, WIChealth.org.
It is the success of the Lowcountry that has led the WIC program to implement a statewide rollout this month!