Transforming California WIC Training for over 10 Years


Early in 2001, a brilliant and devoted staff member of California WIC (Women, Infants, Children) read Jane Vella’s book Learning to Listen, Learning to Teach and it spoke to him, loudly. He was looking for a way to transform California WIC’s nutrition education efforts that reached over 1.4 million women, infants and children each month at over 600 sites throughout the state.


GLP began training senior staff of CA WIC’s state offices to spread a learning-centered approach to local agencies and state-based staff. We used GLP’s Ask-Study-Observe model to deeply understand the reality of our client and its customers:

  • we read data about WIC’s successes, challenges, and innovations
  • we spoke with staff in all sorts of roles
  • and we observed counseling and group education sessions

Some of us experienced receiving WIC and “felt” the struggles and joys of working through the process at the supermarket. We did all we could to live the WIC experience.

GLP crafted a CA WIC version of each of our core courses. Over a decade, more than 1000 staff participated in 50 tailored courses. Many of these graduates went on to advanced courses, and new courses were developed for staff who were eager for ongoing and greater learning. We co-created general guidelines for organizational use and conducted reviews of training designs created by local agencies.


Over the initial years, hundreds of staff began bringing the principles of dialogue-based learning into their work in a myriad of ways including staff who worked with WIC parents and children on a daily basis. A new course called Finding the Teacher Within (FTW) was created to extract the essence of a learning-centered approach for staff who don’t do training regularly to give them a way to apply the approach to their regular interactions with clients.

Selected local agencies engaged fully in the FTW program became sites for a formal evaluation comparing the learning-centered approach with the traditional approach. The results of the evaluation are intriguing.

After a decade of positive collaborations, CA WIC created their own training opportunities and materials called Participant-Centered Education (PCE). We salute them!