Participant-Centered Services (PCS) is a comprehensive systems framework for providing PCS in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). Developed in conjunction with the states in the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) Western Region and updated with states in other regions, the PCS model considers all aspects of WIC service delivery as opportunities to promote the adoption of positive nutrition and health-related behaviors by WIC participants and their families. Encompassing every interaction between the participant and WIC staff, as well as between and among WIC staff and supervisors, the model is flexible in design, adapting to the unique needs of diverse state and local WIC programs. Altarum's Center for Food and Nutrition (CFAN) provides technical assistance and training to state and local WIC programs to implement the PCS model as described below.
- Assessment and Planning: CFAN has conducted PCS assessments for over 30 WIC state agencies in multiple USDA Regions. Utilizing the PCS model and assessment findings, Altarum works with state and local leaders to create a strategic plan addressing strengths and challenges for enhancing services through implementation of features of the participant-centered service delivery model.
- Training on communication and PCS “Champion” skills: The PCS model features a communication approach that is interactive, supportive, and motivational, focusing on the WIC participant’s strengths, needs, and capabilities. Altarum trains WIC staff on the participant-centered communication skills necessary to promote the adoption of positive nutrition and health-related behaviors by WIC participants and their families, and to enhance interactions with colleagues. Altarum also trains state and local PCS champions to provide leadership for implementing PCS strategies and to be role models for communication skills.
- Leadership and Mentoring: A strong mentoring program supports ongoing progress and development of WIC staff. Altarum has worked with state and local WIC agencies to create sustainable mentoring systems that incorporate the spirit and style of PCS into every aspect of WIC service delivery.