A joint policy statement recently released by the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services endorsed the Help Me Grow model as a strong non-federal system that assists states in identifying vulnerable children at risk of developmental and behavioral concerns, and helps families find community-based programs. With funding from the Children and Families Commission of Orange County, Help Me Grow Orange County became operational at CHOC Children’s in 2007. Since then, the program has served more than 29,067 children.
Developed in 1997 by Dr. Paul Dworkin at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, Help Me Grow has been implemented in 28 states, with Orange County being the first site after Connecticut. The model ensures children and families are connected to the services they need in order to thrive. “It is exciting to see a local, innovative, system model that was piloted 20 years ago in Hartford now being diffused throughout country and recommended as a strategy to achieve collective impact,” says Dr. Dworkin.
“Our team is thrilled to see this federal report and endorsement from the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services. Since our inception in Orange County, we have successfully implemented the Help Me Grow model with a centralized intake, screening and referral system using a call center access point serving more than 3,000 young children every year. Our success is due to tremendous collaboration with numerous community partners who are dedicated to the health and well-being of children,” explains Rebecca Hernandez, program manager, Help Me Grow Orange County.
By calling the toll free number 1-866-476-9025 or using an online link found on the Help Me Grow Orange County website (www.helpmegrowoc.org), parents, caregivers, child care providers, early educators and health care providers in the county have a point of access to developmental services for children who are 8 years and younger. Responses are provided within two business days.
“Children and families in our community have certainly felt the positive impact of Help Me Grow Orange County. We hope the recent endorsement from the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services encourages others to adopt a system model that ensures the most vulnerable children receive the services they need in order to reach their fullest potential,” says Dr. Maria Minon, vice president medical affairs and chief medical officer, CHOC.