By Jacquelyn M. Rose, MPH and Kimberly Martini-Carvell, MA

While all four Core Components of the Help Me Grow Model are integral to its implementation and ultimate success within a community, the Centralized Access Point (CAP) is perhaps the most visible, accessible, and utilized Component. The CAP is characterized by elements such as staff training, certification, and credentials; client intake and management systems; electronic and paper-based screening; longitudinal follow-up activities with families; the capacity to track and measure family-specific outcomes; and protocols- and processes for sharing information within and across child-serving sectors.

In recent years, HMG affiliates have independently pursued and implemented innovations that go beyond the basic fidelity criteria outlined by the HMG National Center to modernize and strengthen the CAP. In an effort to review and catalogue these innovations in a more systematic way, as well as to generate new ideas for how to strengthen and maintain the relevance of the CAP to a comprehensive early childhood system, the HMG National Center and the Childhood Prosperity Lab designed a novel working group comprised of affiliate representatives and national partners to inform next steps in this area. The working group was supported by an investment from The JPB Foundation, with the goal of developing strategic recommendations to the HMG National Center that could be implemented across the National Affiliate Network.

In June 2020, the HMG National Center and Childhood Prosperity Lab began facilitating the HMG CAP work group. Representatives from nine HMG affiliates participated in the work group: Alaska; Long Island, NY; Los Angeles, CA; Indiana; North Texas; Orange County, CA; South Carolina; Utah; and Western New York. The Alliance for Information and Referral Systems (AIRS) also participated in the work group, providing insight, support, and resources related to the establishment, implementation, and maintenance of information and referral systems.

Work group participants explored a number of themes related to the implementation, evaluation, and sustainability of the CAP, including:

      The role and function of the CAP within the community
      How the CAP supports developmental promotion, referral, and linkage
      How the CAP supports data collection, evidence, and evaluation of HMG systems
     – Strategies to support work flow as well as roles and responsibilities of various team members
      The role of technology and how technology is leveraged to support
      The management and delineation of work flow, roles, and responsibilities

During monthly convenings, participants shared their experiences with each of these themes, discussed challenges, shared efficacious strategies, identified opportunities to share best practices, and explore opportunities to strengthen efforts.

Recommendations from the CAP work group will be shared with HMG leads on an upcoming webinar scheduled for February, 4, 2021.

Affiliates will have the opportunity to reflect on the recommendations during small group discussions on February 11, 2021, and formally submit their feedback to the National Center during an open comment period from February 15 through 26, 2021.

In tandem with this effort, the HMG National Center engaged in related, comprehensive strategic planning efforts that include, among other items, a targeted focus on growth and expansion HMG, including better leveraging the CAP to promote equitable access to services and to increase the understanding of HMG’s impact on children, families, and systems. As a result, the HMG National Center will look to leverage the recommendations put forth in this report as key groundwork necessary to successfully adopt strategic priorities related to increasing the reach and impact of HMG.

Jacquelyn Rose is Manager of the Childhood Prosperity Lab at the Connecticut Children’s Office for Community Child Health.

Kimberly Martini-Carvell is the Executive Director of the Help Me Grow National Center and the Associate Director for Capacity Building, Organizational Learning, and Professional Advancement at the Connecticut Children’s Office for Community Child Health.