Help Me Grow Orange County, which became operational at CHOC Children’s in 2007 to help ensure the community’s children and families are connected to developmental services, was named the winner of the 10K Innovation Challenge. The Help Me Grow National Center and Connecticut Children’s Advancing Kids Innovation Program (AKIP) invited the nation’s 28 Help Me Grow affiliates to submit innovative ideas, models or approaches that promote children’s healthy development and can be replicated by other affiliates.
Four finalists were selected among all submissions to receive technical assistance from AKIP in defining and describing their innovation to a panel of experts at the 8th Annual Help Me Grow National Forum, held in St., Paul, Minnesota. After an audience vote, Help Me Grow Orange County was declared the winner, receiving $10,000 from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation to support the continued growth— and expansion to other affiliates— of their innovation.
Help Me Grow Orange County was honored for effectively using collaboration, linked technology and the Help Me Grow infrastructure to improve developmental screening rates for children in family child care settings. Currently, young children cared for in such settings do not experience developmental screening rates equivalent to children in center-based settings. As a result, they are typically not getting identified and connected to services that can help them overcome certain challenges they may be facing for healthy growth and development.
To address this gap, Help Me Grow Orange County created a link to developmental screening questionnaires available to childcare providers. The questionnaires are automatically scored using an online system, and results are imported into a database used for intake, referrals and care coordination. Screening results are shared with families, early care and education providers, and pediatric health care providers. Children who are determined to be in the at-risk or monitoring categories receive referrals and follow-up care coordination from the Help Me Grow staff.
“We are elated to have won the 10K Innovation Challenge,” says Rebecca Hernandez, manager, Help Me Grow Orange County. “Our participation allowed us to highlight our innovative and collaborative efforts with Quality Start OC’s Quality Rating & Improvement System. Utilizing integrated technology, we created a more accessible and efficient process to conduct developmental screening for young children in family child care. We are certain these children are connected to services because they are easily linked now to Help Me Grow. We hope we inspired our colleagues in the nation’s other affiliates to consider implementing a similar innovation.”
Help Me Grow Orange County will now be working on increasing the number of family childcare providers who utilize the link to complete developmental screenings, and developing API (Application Programming Interface) to import screening results into the OC Children’s Screening Registry.
Parents, caregivers, and providers can call Help Me Grow Orange County at 866-GROW-025 (866-476-9025) or visit www.helpmegrowoc.org to get help in navigating the developmental services system in Orange County.