The Department of Family and Consumer Sciences announces a new certificate, the Human Lactation Pathway 2 Certificate, to join its list of degrees available to students this fall.

The certificate provides the coursework to prepare students to become International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs.) This accreditation enables them to work as entry-level consultants in hospitals, doctor’s offices and the community in ways that support and encourage breast feeding, particularly in marginalized communities where it has not been the norm.

“Breastfeeding can be a complicated subject culturally for African American families and families with marginalized voices,” said Valerie Giddings, Ph.D., chairperson of the FCS department. “This program’s mission is to change the health narrative for these families by educating, supporting and helping them sustain breastfeeding, which has been shown by research to have numerous health benefits.”

This culturally important credential, one of only two lactation certificate programs housed at Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the United States, will also help to boost the number of African Americans who are certified IBCLCs in the country, Giddings said. Graduates of this program will be uniquely positioned to help raise African American mothers’ comfort level with breast feeding, which could lead to overall health gains for this population.

FCS’s certificate is uniquely designed to stress communication and cultural diversity in health care, Giddings said.