Little By Little (LBL) is a low dose evidence-based program addressing the challenges of school readiness for children in WIC families at risk for literacy failure. The family is wholly engaged in supporting this literacy, which is especially important as 62 percent of children in Los Angeles County do not attend preschool or nursey school (2014 Los Angeles County WIC survey). By weaving LBL into the WIC platform which addresses issues related to nutritional risk and maternal/child health, the program reaches over two-thirds of all infants born in L.A. County.
On January 13, 2011, the First 5 LA Board of Commissioners approved a $30 million allocation for the Little By Little Program.
The program is designed to create stimulating environments in the homes of WIC families and a family culture that fosters literacy prior to school entry by providing high-quality, age-appropriate books and handouts the families might not otherwise have access to or be able to afford. Additionally, the program provides anticipatory guidance regarding early literacy and safety awareness, which helps families understand what to expect during their child’s current and approaching stage of development.
With the help of the LBL program, and as demonstrated by program evaluation findings, children enter school with more basic literacy and language skills and are better prepared to thrive, learn and succeed.
The LBL intervention begins in the third trimester of pregnancy, allows for up to four LBL contacts annually, and continues up to the child’s 5th birthday when they are no longer eligible for WIC services. During their visit to WIC, LBL participants receive the following:
- Age-level handouts on reading, development, household safety and family engagement.
- Age-level, high-quality children’s books.
- Parental guidance tied to child development milestones.
- Connections to important community services—childcare, developmental screening resources, preschool and others.
Across the current 10 LBL locations in L.A. County, the program serves approximately 61,000 unduplicated WIC participants annually for a cost of approximately $3.2 million per year, or for approximately $52 per participant, per year.
As of June 30, 2019, the LBL program has:
- Reached 317,000 unique LBL participants
- Provided over one million developmentally appropriate books and handouts to enable parents to prepare their children for school
- Expanded the role of WIC centers beyond a focus on nutrition to become learning places where staff members developed additional knowledge and skills to embrace a broader educational role
- Increased parents’ understanding of their children’s development and age-appropriate learning activities and encouraged parents to apply this knowledge through educational and fun activities (e.g. reading more frequently to their children, incorporating learning activities into everyday life at home, etc.)