In recent years, Guilford County government has been highly focused on improving the health of newborns and infants during the first years of life and preventing infant mortality through proper newborn care.

County health staff are working with pregnant mothers before and after birth – as well as with families as a whole.

The Guilford County Division of Public Health has a lot of tools in its tool chest and now it’s adding another one: training a worker to become a certified lactation specialist.

Using $8,500 in grant money, the county will take part in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). That’s a government program that provides “nutrition education, breastfeeding support, referrals to health care and social services, and nutritious food for qualify parents, pregnant people, and young children.”

According to Guilford County health staff, the strength of the WIC depends on the “strength and diversity of its workforce,” of which certified lactation consultants and other breastfeeding advisors play a role.

The funds will be used to pay the tuition costs and other educational expenses that will pay for a WIC infant care counselor to attend the Human Lactation Pathway 2 Program at North Carolina A&T State University. That program provides the required hours of coursework and supervised practice in lactation consulting needed to apply and pass the International Board-Certified Lactation Consultants Exam.

Caseloads for Guilford County human services are high.  As of March 2023, the WIC program in Guilford County had 15,153 clients. Since the start of this year, the program has received over 1,300 new referrals and has also enrolled 75 participants through outreach efforts in doctors’ offices and hospitals.