National WIC Association

Resource Navigators in Montgomery County, MD

April 12, 2016

CCI is one of the local agencies participating in the Community Partnerships for Healthy Mothers and Children project, through our cooperative agreement with the CDC.

CCI Health and Wellness Services and the Healthy Jumpstart Coalition (HJC) are dedicated to improving community health by providing residents of Montgomery County, Maryland comprehensive access to preventative health services and chronic disease management. According to the CDC, most Americans underuse preventive services and individuals experiencing social, economic, or environmental disadvantages are even less likely to use these services. By integrating a resource navigator at the Women, Infant and Children (WIC) centers, families will be guided through a seamless process in which they receive one on one referral assistance. This innovative program will provide more than 30,000 residents the opportunity to access more than 20 services throughout the county.

There are many factors that contribute to Montgomery County’s high quality of life; however, pockets of poverty within the county are found to have poorer health outcomes. These areas tend to have a low per capita income, are predominately minority, have high rates of uninsured individuals and a large majority of individuals who receive SNAP or Medicaid benefits. While the WIC program has provided significant resources including supplemental foods, nutrition education and health referrals to residents in need, many families do not have access to primary care services. Many families may receive referrals, but do not have the self-efficacy to follow through. Other families may not choose to access primary care services due to the other competing priorities.

Referrals require considerable coordination and strong communication between clinical and community partners. A resource navigator will be made available at 5 WIC locations to enable families to access services within the organization and throughout the community. The resource navigator will be the link that assists families in accessing preventative services. Introducing the resource navigator to the family will facilitate the "warm handoff" technique assisting families in creating appointments with primary care physicians and encouraging them to attend their appointments. The earlier the intervention, the more likely the individuals will engage in healthy behaviors, ultimately preventing chronic illnesses.

Read more about CCI's work here.