The HHSI Dorchester South/ South Boston WIC (Women, Infants and Children) Program was awarded The Loving Support Awards of Excellence for exemplary efforts in supporting breastfeeding WIC mothers by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA awards are part of USDA’s National WIC Breastfeeding Week, celebrated August 1-7)
WIC agencies that utilize the USDA Loving Support Model for a successful peer counseling program were eligible to apply for the honor, which considers their breastfeeding performance measures, effective peer counseling programs and community partnerships. 9 of the 83 local WIC agencies across the country that qualified for an award are located in Northeast region.
The Dorchester South/South Boston WIC program was one of only two program to receive the highest honor – the Gold Premiere award.
The Breastfeeding Peer Counselling Program also known as the called the Mother to Mother Program was first implemented by the Dorchester South/South Boston WIC program in 2007. The program is run by peer counselors; the peer counselors are women who have participated in the WIC program, have breastfed their children and who are interested in helping other moms succeed in their breastfeeding goals. The Peer Counselors receive specialized training in breastfeeding support and are given the opportunity to train as Certified Lactation Consultants.
Although we initially started with one peer counselor, we know have 4 peer counselors who speak Hattian Creole, Vietnamese, Spanish and English. Our language capabilities allow us to serve all our mothers in a more culturally competent way.
Our Peers work both from home and in the office so they are available to their moms anytime they are needed including nights and weekend. They also run Breast feeding classes and Happiest Baby on the Block classes. Our Vietnamese Peer Counselor Thy Nguyen was recognized by the State WIC office for her Vietnamese mothers group that she runs every Tuesday and is packed to capacity!
Our breast feeding initiation rate is currently 92.7% higher than the state average is 80.7% – a testament to the true value of our Breastfeeding Program. All these effort are overseen by our longtime Breastfeeding Coordinator Susan Hardiman.