This year’s Help Me Grow National Forum was the largest to date for our Help Me Grow National Center (National Center), which is based at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford, Connecticut. More than 400 child health advocates gathered in Seattle from 29 states for the 3-day event.

In 2017, 99 Help Me Grow systems in 28 states served 81,000 children and families, and reached far more. The National Center’s goal in 2018 is for affiliates to serve more than 97,000 children and families, a 20 percent increase.

The Forum’s opening reception took place at MoPop, the Museum of Pop Culture, which is adjacent to the famed Space Needle. WithinReach, the Help Me Grow Washington affiliate, hosted the reception. It was sponsored by Vroom, an initiative of Bezos Family Foundation.

Help Me Grow advances population health by supporting health and developmental promotion; advancing early detection of developmental and behavioral concerns for at-risk children; and connecting children and families to support services across all sectors impacting child outcomes.

The Forum included welcome speeches from Kay Knox, CEO of WithinReach, the Help Me Grow Washington affiliate; and John Wiesman, the Washington State Secretary of Health.

“The Help Me Grow model works. It incorporates all aspects of healthy development instead of keeping services siloed. We are so fortunate to have Help Me Grow in Washington state.” – John Wiesman, Washington State Secretary of Health

“We are extremely appreciative to Help Me Grow for supporting and believing in us. Their insight and coaching helped us get where we are today.” – Kay Knox, CEO of WithinReach

Health Care Reform

The Forum provided an opportunity for attendees to reflect on the crucial importance of improving population health by advocating for a child-first approach to health care reform. This panel, led by Paul Dworkin, MD, the founder of Help Me Grow, highlighted ways to incorporate Help Me Grow into state health care reform discussions, and included examples of its integration into health care reform in four states.

Jennifer Tracey of Zero to Three presented the HealthySteps model during the Forum’s innovation plenary. HealthySteps enhances pediatric primary care by embedding developmental specialists into practices to coordinate screening efforts and help families identify, understand and manage parenting challenges.

Help Me Grow National Center and Connecticut Children’s Advancing Kids Innovation Program, both programs of Connecticut Children’s Office for Community Child Health, hosted an innovation consultation session at the Forum. Three affiliates described their innovations to a panel of experts and detailed challenges they face advancing them. They received immediate feedback from the panel and will also receive a short report with additional feedback and recommendations following the Forum.








Keynote Address

Nadine Burke Harris, MD, a pediatrician and founder of the Center for Youth Wellness in San Francisco, delivered an inspirational and informative keynote address.

“My patients with the worst symptoms were always the ones with the most serious adversity. There is a biological mechanism behind everything. You just have to look for it. We spend a lot of time treating symptoms. That is why so much of what we do is only partially effective. We need to get to the root cause. When we understand the root cause, our interventions will be much more likely to be effective.” – Nadine Burke Harris, MD

Dr. Burke Harris is a nationally renowned expert on the impact adverse childhood experiences, and the resulting toxic stress, have on child development.

“There is no racial or socioeconomic group not impacted by adverse childhood experiences. All of the research tells us early identification and early intervention are absolutely the most powerful tools we have to address this. Every pediatrician needs to be screening for adverse childhood experiences.” – Nadine Burke Harris, MD

Dr. Burke Harris’ TED Talk has been viewed more than 3.7 million times and she just published a book, The Deepest Well.

“I believe we are on the cusp of a revolution. I believe we are going to get there but it will take every single one of us. When it comes to this movement, one of the most important things we can do is sound the alarm. We can do this. We can create change!” – Nadine Burke Harris, MD

In all, the 2018 Help Me Grow National Forum included the keynote address, two plenary sessions, more than 30 breakout sessions, a poster session, and four Washington host sessions held in locations around Seattle.

“On behalf of the National Center, I am so pleased to thank you all for your extraordinary contributions to children and families. This is really the best our country has to offer and I hope you take great pride in that. When we talk of hope moving us forward, it is your work doing that.” – Paul Dworkin, MD, founder of Help Me Grow

We look forward to gathering again for the 2019 Help Me Grow National Forum in Buffalo, New York, which will be co-hosted by our Help Me Grow Western New York affiliate.

Our Help Me Grow National Center team pictured with Nadine Burke Harris, MD

All images featured in this blog were taken by Tara Brown Photography.

Help Me Grow National Center is a program of Connecticut Children’s Office for Community Child Health and is based at Connecticut Children’s Medical Centerin Hartford, Connecticut.