Attleboro/Taunton WIC
  Taunton (508) 823-6346
Attleboro (508) 226-4543
Norton (508) 285-0235
Seekonk (508) 336-2909
Mansfield (508) 261-7465

The USDA Women, Infants and Children Web Site

CFC WIC program peer parenting counselors onboard

TAUNTON ~ Citizens for Citizens' Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program now has two peer parent counselors to work closely with expectant mothers and moms with young children.

Lidia Munoz, Rebecca Reynolds & Cassie Ketcham
Lidia Munoz, center, is shown with CFC's two new peer parenting counselors, Rebecca Reynolds, left, and Cassie Ketcham.

Rebecca Reynolds and Cassie Ketcham, who both are WIC clients with two children each, have completed a training program conducted by Lidia Munoz of WIC.

According to Ms. Munoz, the WIC counselors were instructed on how to conduct classes on a variety of topics including nutrition, infant growth and development, and common parenting issues during the first 18 months of life.

She said, "We feel that the clients will relate well with the counselors and may confide in them in a more personal way."

The counselors will provide support for those clients seeking one-on-one attention. They will each work 10 hours a week and will continue to expand their knowledge and skills through ongoing training at the WIC Learning Center in Framingham or at other designated locations.

According to WIC Director Karen Swass, the two counselors were chosen after interviews were conducted with a number of candidates. She said, "The peer parenting counselors will act as mentors and will be available by phone to any of the clients seeking advice."

The WIC director was optimistic that having the services of counselors conducting training and working closely with pregnant women and new mothers will enhance the program's ability to maximize client service.

Back to top

Wheaton students learn life lesson and come to the aid of young family

Courtney Medeiros, 3, dozes in the arms of her mother, Melissa Westgate. Karen Swass, director of CFC’s Women/s, Infants and Children Program. Wheaton College Professor Gordy Weil and students Mike Shelton, Jade Alves and Kristin Perez look on.

It was just a few days before Christmas when Wheaton College freshman learned first-hand that compassion is a gift as much for the giver as for the recipient.

Mellissa Westgate sat in a rocking chair in the Citizens for Citizens Women, Infants and Children office holding a sleeping three year old close to her.

Professor Gordy Weil, his students Mike Shelton, Jade Alves and Kristin Perez surrounded the young mother with love and presented her a supermarket gift certificate amounting to $100.

The students were part of a larger group that took part in WIC Director's Karen Swass's Hunger 101 workshop on campus. They were so moved by the workshop that they dug into their own pockets to raise money for a family chosen by the WIC staff.

The staff chose Melissa, a 25-year-old mother of two. The sleeping child had just completed chemotherapy for leukemia and she is taking heavy doses of antibiotics.

Melissa said she appreciated the students' contribution and said that she would hope to instill in them the knowledge that life can have its difficult moments but with faith it is possible to find faith and courage in dealing with the most overwhelming problems.

Just three weeks after being licensed as a certified nursing associate and health care professional, Courtney became ill at just 10 months of age.

Courtney spent four months on the west wing, seventh floor of Children's Hospital. She slipped in and out of coma, and gradually her system responded and the leukemia went into remission.

Now when Mellissa takes Courtney to Children's Hospital, she talks with other parents who find themselves in a situation they were in two years ago. "I talk about fear, faith and prayers and MRIs and CAT scans."

Just about the time Courtney became ill, Melissa's best friend lost a child to leukemia. The two infants were both in Children's Hospital.

Even though Courtney is in remission, she has what Melissa described as a high risk form of the disease with a 75 percent chance of the disease returning.

She thanked WIC for their support in helping her to raise her children. Her first-born, Scott is seven and no longer in the program. WIC was there for her in helping her to give her children proper nurturing and said she appreciated everything the program did for her.

Noting that the child's illness came just about the exact time she had put her life together, completing studies and taking a job as a health care professional.

She wanted to convey to the students that they consider all their life choices even at their early age. It was at their age that she had her first child and she admitted being a single mom and being so young was difficult but that WIC was there to get her through some difficult times.

She added, "WIC is an important program and anyone who could use support in raising children and getting good advice should take advantage of the program in the community."

Professor Weil said that the Hunger 101 is part of a first year seminar for freshman. He was director to Karen Swass by the director of the Attleboro Comprehensive Community Office director Bill Donleavy. whose agency is in the same building as WIC.

The 18 freshmen were so moved by the workshop that they decided to dig into their own pockets and came up with $100. Two of the students volunteered at the WIC office and saw first-hand how the program served the community.

In presenting the donation to Ms. Westgate, Kristin Perez said that she and her fellow students are pleased that they were able to help someone during the holiday season.

Back to top

CFC WIC office is chosen for pilot program using parental counselors

TAUNTON ~ Citizens for Citizens Women, Infants and Children Program, serving Greater Taunton and Greater Attleboro, has been selected for a pilot program using selected clients to serve as parenting peer counselors.

Karen Swass, WIC director, said that the state WIC office notified her that the CFC program was the state's first choice. Two programs will be selected to implement the pilot program.

The program implementation is contingent on funding which is expected in January, according to the WIC director.

Ms. Swass stated: "We are very enthusiastic about being selected and we will schedule interviews of potential counselors who will be hired on a part-time basis to work with parents and pregnant women.This should greatly broaden our outreach to women in our area who need someone to turn to when it comes to raising happy and healthy children.

"The parenting counselors who are chosen for the pilot program will attend six two-hour training sessions to become more familiar with the various topics that WIC promotes to improve healthier families. While providing a valuable service to others, the counselors will be earning extra money for themselves and their families."

Ms. Swass noted: "Once they are trained, the selected counselors will conduct education sessions with mothers and pregnant women. These sessions will count as nutritional education sessions that are required as part of eligibility for WIC assistance.

"The parenting counselors will build a rapport with the women in the educational sessions and will be available to help the WIC clients with improving parenting skills, nutrition or other related issues."

Anyone with questions about the pilot program should stop by the WIC office in Taunton, One School St. or call (508) 823-6346. The other office locations are at 95 Pine St., Attleboro; Norton Senior Center, 55 West Main St.; Mansfield Town Hall, 6 Park Row Ave.; Seekonk Town Hall, 100 Peck St.

Back to top

Parents' stress may affect behavior in children with heart defect

BOSTON -- New research indicates that 4-year-olds who have had surgery to correct an inborn heart defect - much like children without such health problems - are more likely to have behavioral problems if their mothers and fathers find parenting highly stressful.

While the researchers anticipated this finding, they did not predict another observation: that reported rates of problem behaviors and levels of parenting stress are no higher, and possibly lower, in families coping with the heart defect than in average families.

According to lead author Karen J. Visconti, Ph.D., of Children's Hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School, "These findings indicate that the parents [of children with the congenital heart defect] were capable of coping with having a sick child."

The study was published in the October 2002 issue of the the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics.

Visconti and her colleagues followed 153 children born with transposition of the great arteries and their parents for four years. In every case, the heart defect was surgically corrected at an urban children's hospital before the age of 3 months.

The researchers administered questionnaires on which parents rated their levels of stress and social support when the children were 1 year old, and again when they were 4 years old. A separate survey, distributed only at age 4, asked parents to record all the behavioral and emotional problems they observed in their children.

The results reveal that how stressed parents feel when the children are 1 year old is a good predictor of both parental stress levels and the number of problem behaviors in their children three years later. This echoes previous research on normal children, Visconti notes, which "reported that parent stress over the first three years of children's lives was the best predictor of child behavior problems at 4 years of age."

The investigators also found that "families with less social support reported more stress at both 1 and 4 years."

According to Visconti, these results suggest that "Early detection of distressed families may assist in alleviating stress and reducing child behavior problems," and that bolstering social support might be a viable approach.

This approach seems particularly promising given the observation that parents whose children had the corrected heart defect reported higher levels of social support than typically seen among families in an urban community. This suggests that "these parents are willing to seek out sources of support and capable of securing them," Visconti says.

Ability to recruit support, she observes, may help explain why those parents don't seem unusually stressed, and their children don't seem to have an unusual number of behavioral problems, despite the pressures of illness and surgery.

Parental bias may also be a reason why the number of problem behaviors reported by the parents of children with heart defects was unremarkable. "When completing the [survey], parents might take into account the fact that the child has been sick and do not rate behaviors as aberrant," Visconti proposes.

While the researchers believe that the present study "indicates a favorable outcome for parents and children" with this type of congenital heart disease, they are careful to note that the same may not be true for other inborn heart defects.

Transposition of the arteries, "although a serious heart defect ... generally involves a single reparative surgery, and parents are encouraged to consider the problem as corrected," they explain. "Parents may be able to adapt to having a child with critical congenital heart disease if they perceive the problem to be resolved."

Funding for the study came from the National Institutes of Health.

Back to top

Study reveals that nutrition, exercise may reduce risk of eating disorders

BOSTON -- A new study from researchers at Children's Hospital Boston and the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston has found that a program to promote healthful nutrition and exercise among middle school students may greatly reduce the risk of eating disorder symptoms among girls.

Until now, many programs have failed to prevent teenage girls from using dangerous weight control methods in pursuit of the thin ideal. Details of the study were presented at the Academy of Eating Disorders 2002 International Conference on Eating Disorders and Clinical Teaching Day at the Boston Park Plaza in Boston, Mass.

From 1995 to 1997, more than one thousand middle school students participated in the Planet Health study. Ten schools were randomly assigned to participate in Planet Health or to be the control schools. At the beginning of the study, approximately 30% of the 505 girls in the study were dieting. At the end of the 21-month study, the non-dieting girls in the schools not receiving the Planet Health program showed an alarming increase in eating disorder symptoms.

Among girls who dieted at the start of the study, Planet Health seemed to offer no protection. About 8% of the dieting girls in both control and Planet Health schools reported they began to vomit or abuse laxatives or diet pills by the end of the study.

In contrast, among the girls who did not diet at baseline, only a half percent in Planet Health schools reported these behaviors compared to 6% in control schools. "We were very surprised by the size of the Planet Health effect," said lead author S. Bryn Austin, ScD, a researcher at Children's Hospital Boston.

"The non-dieters, who made up the majority of girls, were 11 times less likely in Planet Health schools to take on dangerous weight-control methods compared to those in control schools. It seems that the healthful nutrition and exercise focus of Planet Health got to these girls at just the right time to keep them from following their dieting peers down the path toward eating disorders."

Children's Hospital Boston is the nation's premier pediatric medical center, the primary pediatric teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School, and home to the world's leading pediatric research enterprise, receiving more NIH funding than any other children's hospital. For more information about the hospital visit:

Back to top

WIC sponsored its 11th Annual Celebration of Parenthood

mayor Ted Strojny
Mayor Ted Strojny praises Citizens for Citizens Women, Infants and Children program during the 11th annual Celebration of Parenthood. WIC Director Karen Swass, center, and WIC staff member Carmen Morales took part in the program.

Citizens for Citizens' Women, Infants and Children sponsored its 11th annual Celebration of Parenthood at Liberty Union Park in the heart of Taunton.

WIC clients and former clients enjoyed the festivities and took time to visit a number of exhibits which included the Association for Human Services, Healthy Families, Morton Hospital & Medical Center, School Based Health Center, Stop & Shop and Triumph Head Start/Community Partnerships, University of Massachusetts Extension Nutrition Education Program.

The park was decorated with stuffed animals, balloons while soap bubbles danced about. A disc jockey boomed out music that had little children jumping up and down and dancing.

One three year old boy, who was with a group of children from Rockabye Family Child Care, got the crowd's attention with his dance moves.

Simulated tattoo
A boy gets a simulated tattoo.

Jackie Andrade, an assistant at Rockabye Baby, said that most of the children at the facility are enrolled in the WIC programs. As a former WIC participant herself, she said that she always refers clients to WIC. "WIC was a great help to me and other working parents."

Rep. James Fagan had high praise for the accomplishments of WIC. He said that the state has run into tough financial times and he urged those in attendance to know that the current cycle will pass and that the economy will improve.

A citation praising WIC and signed by State Senate President Birmingham was presented to WIC Director Karen Swass by a representative of State. Sen. Mark Pacheco.

Receiving recognition as breastfeeding moms were Cynthia Schatz and Mariana Dyson. Both praised WIC for the support they have received in raising healthy, happy children.

Balloon headgear
Girls wear balloon headgear.

Mary Marquez was recognized as the outstanding foster mother in the WIC program.

A letter from U.S. Rep. Barney Frank read in part: "For more than twenty years, I have been an enthusiastic supporter of the creative and compassionate work done by Citizens for Citizens under Mark Sullivan's leadership, and I have always been as strong a supporter as it is possible to be of the WIC program.

"I pledge to you that I will continue to work as hard as I can to reverse the antisocial budget policies now in place at the federal level so that we can provide you with the greater level of resources that you ~ and the people you work with ~ deserve."

Citations were presented to Stop & Shop and to Codman & Shurtleff for their outstanding support of the WIC program.

Ballons are turned into a variety of shapes as children look on in amazement.

A boy chases bubbles that pour out of a machine.

Back to top

Children's Hospital Boston named best in U.S. for 13th Consecutive Year

BOSTON -- Children's Hospital Boston is the nation's top children's hospital, according to U.S. News & World Report's 13th guide to "America's Best Hospitals."

Board-certified physicians have recognized Children's as the best in pediatrics, a ranking the hospital has held since the national magazine first published the list 13 years ago. The rankings appeared in the July 22 issue.

"This is a wonderful honor and a testament to the extraordinary work that goes on here every day," says James Mandell, M.D., Children's Hospital Boston's president and chief executive officer. "It takes a great team effort to provide the level of care Children's offers, and from top to bottom in this organization, our motivation to excel is the children from all over the world who depend on us to help them get well.

"Everything we do here is for the children." According to U.S. News & World Report, the top-ranked hospitals excel because of expertise gained from performing a high volume of the most difficult and complex procedures and because they conduct research that creates more treatment options for critically ill patients.

Children's Hospital Boston is known worldwide for its tertiary and quaternary patient care, as well as for the ground-breaking bench-to-bedside research conducted in Children's John F. Enders Pediatric Research Laboratories. The annual issue of the magazine assessed care in 17 specialties at hospitals across the country.

The rankings were devised in conjunction with the National Opinion Research Center (NORC), a noted social-science research group at the University of Chicago. Rankings in four of the 17 specialties, including pediatrics, are based on reputational surveys. To determine the reputational scores, NORC mailed questionnaires to a geographic cross-section of 180 board-certified physicians in each of 17 specialties.

These doctors were randomly selected from the American Medical Association's database of AMA members and non-members. NORC asked the physicians to name the five hospitals they consider to be the best in their specialty. U.S. News & World Report publishes the "America's Best Hospitals" list each year in an effort to assist people seeking caregivers and institutions with the highest level of expertise in diagnosing, treating, or managing difficult medical conditions. Any institution listed among the top in any specialty should be considered a leading center.

Back to top

Higher IQ from breastfeeding

In a study published in the May 8, 2002, Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), researchers found that infants breastfed for seven to nine months had higher IQs as adults than those breastfed less than seven months.

Using two types of intelligence tests, researchers compared IQ scores for young adults who had been breastfed for various lengths of time. While the study showed an increase in intelligence at all duration levels of breastfeeding, participants who had been breastfed for seven to nine months showed the largest increase of IQ points at six, compared to those breastfed for one month or less.

Using a two-pronged approach to evaluate more than 3,000 young adults in Copenhagen, Denmark, researchers took into account other factors that might contribute to the IQ increase such as parental social status and education; single mother status; mother's height, age and weight gain during pregnancy, and cigarette consumption during the third trimester as well as number of pregnancies; estimated gestational age; birth weight; birth length; and indexes of pregnancy and delivery complications. The scientists concluded that duration of breastfeeding may have long-term positive effects on cognitive and intellectual development.

While previous studies have demonstrated a positive relationship between breastfeeding and psychomotor and mental development in children, most of them stressed the significant difference between those infants who had been breastfed versus those who were fed artificial baby milk. This study is unique in that it demonstrates the positive, life-long effects of breastfeeding by testing young adults in relationship to the duration of their breastfeeding experience as infants and because it is the first to track IQ into maturity. Scientists believe that the nutrients in human milk, maternal behavior, and factors associated with the choice of feeding method all play a part in the positive correlation between duration of breastfeeding and increased IQ.

Previous research has well documented additional long-term positive effects of breastfeeding both for the baby and the mother. For the infant, long-term effects of breastfeeding include reduced risk of celiac disease, diabetes, obesity, some childhood cancers, Crohn's disease, urinary tract infections, atopic disease and reduced endometriosis in women in later life. For the breastfeeding mother, there is reduced risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer and osteoporosis.

Source: La Leche League International Press Release, May 2002

Back to top

Taunton's first baby of 2002 thriving with WIC support

Cynthia Faria is ensuring her baby will have a healthy start to life.

Hayley Fife was the first baby born in Taunton on Jan 2, 2002, just a few days before her mom's 21st birthday. Because Cynthia Faria is a single mom, she didn't qualify for any of the gifts normally provided to the first baby born in the new year. Ms. Faria turned to Citizens for Citizens Women, Infants and Children Program where the staff set her up with formula for a year, began nutrition counseling and explained how to introduce new foods to her baby.

Born 6 pounds four ounces at Morton Hospital, Hayley gained a pound and a half in the first month and is described by Isabel Ferrier as a "very healthy baby."

WIC also provides referrals to a variety of social services as well as day care.

Anyone seeking information about the WIC program should call the following numbers at area code 508: Taunton Office 823-6346; Attleboro 226-4543; Norton 285-0235; Seekonk 336-2909; Mansfield 261-7465.

Back to top

WIC initiates Building Better Babies program

Citizens for Citizens' Women's, Infants and Children Program has instituted Building Healthy Babies, a year-long monitoring program of newborns, at the Attleboro office.

Karen Swass, WIC director, said that photos taken at birth, the second and third, month and every other three month period will be part of the monitoring system that includes maintaining data on weight and length and other physical developments.

This is the first such WIC program in the state and the staff at the CFC office was eager to get the program rolling in Attleboro.

During the year-long program, the mothers will be given instructions on such things as the proper way to put a baby to sleep in order to prevent the possibility of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

The moms were presented a package that included a WIC pillow blanket made by Isabell Ferrier of the WIC staff. The pillow bears the WIC emblem and unfolds into an attractive blanket. The package also included a bath thermometer, fingerprint kit, written material to properly nourish a baby from birth to four months, and information on sun exposure.

The babies will be monitored by the WIC nutrition staff and a dietary assessment will be made and a proper dietary formula established.

They will also be given a birthday party next January in observance of their first birthday.

The moms expressed their delight in the knowledge that their babies will be monitored during the first year of their lives.

The moms in the program are: Tina Morel, whose son Joseph was born on Jan. 7; Waade Shannon, whose son Saye Eustand Zonen was born on Jan. 2, and Julie Bishop, whose son Alexis Parker was born on Jan. 3.

Back to top

Citizens for Citizens, Inc.
264 Griffin St.
Fall River, MA 02724
Voice/TTY (508) 679-0041
Fax (508) 324-7503
Citizens for Citizens, Inc.
One Taunton Green
Taunton, MA 02780
Voice/TTY (508) 823-6346
Fax (508) 821-9254