A new joint policy statement, released by the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services, includes a recommendation for states to adopt a centralized intake, screening and referral process, specifically naming Help Me Grow® as an effective strategy, a national model from Connecticut Children’s Medical Center up and running in Alabama.
The report, which encourages greater collaboration between federal home visiting programs and federally-required state early intervention programs, notes that Help Me Grow® is a “non-federal system that assists states in identifying children at risk for developmental and behavioral concerns and then helps families find community-based programs and services. Help Me Grow is a system that helps to build collaboration across sectors, including health care, early care and education, and family support.”
Help Me Grow Alabama is a program of the Alabama Partnership for Children as an affiliate of the Help Me Grow National Network. Help Me Grow Alabama expanded statewide in 2016 and currently serves all 67 counties in the state through funding from the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education through the Preschool Development Grant, the Alabama Department of Human Resources, and the Alabama Department of Mental Health through a Project LAUNCH Grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association. Now, every family in Alabama is able to dial 2-1-1, ask for Help Me Grow Alabama and speak with a care coordinator who will answer questions, connect them to services, follow up to ensure a connection is made and enroll them in developmental surveillance if interested. The United Way’s 2-1-1 Connects Alabama is a statewide network of regional call centers that provide free easy access to health and human services available throughout Alabama.
“Help Me Grow is a system model that provides a framework for ensuring all children and their families are linked to the services and supports needed to thrive,” said Kimberly Martini-Carvell, executive director of the Help Me Grow National Center. “This policy statement endorses that screening should not happen independent of an integrated system of care that has a strong ability to link children and families to effective services.”
Nearly one-third of Alabama parents say they have a concern about their child’s health or development. Help Me Grow Alabama provides the critical service of identifying concerns early when interventions are less costly and more effective. Health care and early learning providers also use Help Me Grow Alabama to refer families for additional assistance and developmental screenings.
“Alabama was an early adopter of this simple and effective model for identifying and addressing developmental concerns early in a child’s life. As the evidence emerges, Help Me Grow is now identified as an effective and cost-efficient program as indicated by this endorsement from the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services. Working with our state’s 2-1-1 Network and other local and regional partners, our relatively small investment results in huge cost savings and better developmental outcomes for young children in Alabama. That’s a win-win for all,” according to Gail Piggott, executive director, Alabama Partnership for Children.
More information about Help Me Grow Alabama can be viewed here: http://www.helpmegrowalabama.org.