I am grateful for the opportunity to introduce a new feature on the Help Me Grow National website — a periodic (hopefully, monthly) blog in issues relevant to our efforts to promote the early detection of at-risk children and the linkage of these children and their families to programs and services. I am hopeful of capturing the themes and issues that are germane to our efforts, and provoking reflection, reaction, and perhaps dialogue. Please let us know your thoughts on our latest efforts to embrace social media.

The National Center and I are so pleased to welcome West Virginia as our latest and newest HMG affiliate. The addition of WV is notable for many reasons. On a personal note, my very first faculty position was at West Virginia University in the late 1970s and early 1980s. I continue to cherish both the memories of our years in Morgantown and our fondness for this remarkable and unique state and university.

Perhaps most noteworthy is West Virginia’s pathway to affiliate status and its implications for the continued expansion of HMG and its National Center. Unlike all other affiliates with the exception of Connecticut, WV was not selected on the basis of its response to our call for proposals under the sponsorship of The Commonwealth Fund or the WK Kellogg Foundation.

Rather, WV requested affiliate status because, in the words of Jackie Newson (WV lead for Home Visiting and HMG), “the West Virginia Birth to 3 – Early Intervention director had seen several presentations on HMG, and the model seemed like it would really support the integration of our home visiting program with our Strengthening Families philosophy and would also bolster our Birth to 3 early childhood needs.”

West Virginia exemplifies the “embedding” approach-integrating HMG within related initiatives and frameworks (e.g., Part C, Home Visiting, Strengthening Families) to build a comprehensive system in support of young children’s healthy development. Furthermore, WV secured technical assistance from the National Center on a fee-for-service basis. As we promote a variety of strategies to ensure long-term sustainability of our work, we have come to embrace such approaches as integrating HMG within the infrastructure of such related initiatives as home visiting, promoting synergy of HMG with such frameworks as Strengthening Families of the Center for the Study of Social Policy, enabling financial feasibility through cross-subsidization by partnering with states’ Part C, Part B, and offering technical assistance on a fee-for-service basis.

In this era of budget deficits and demands for accountability, we must adopt a multi-faceted approach to sustain our efforts over time. The addition of West Virginia as a most welcome HMG affiliate validates and reinforces our efforts to use such strategies as embedding and cross-subsidization to enable long-term sustainability. We are committed to ensuring that WV achieves its vision “that HMG will be the centralized hub for medical providers, early childhood programs, and families, and also be the hub for home visiting programs.”