Get to Know an Affiliate is a blog series focused on building affiliate-to-affiliate connections and resource sharing. At the 10th Help Me Grow National Forum, Debra Dudack, Communications Manager at Connecticut Children’s Office for Community Child Health, sat down with Help Me Grow Indiana (HMG IN) to discuss more about their HMG system and hosting next year’s convening.
Help Me Grow – Indiana
HMG Organizing Entity:
Indiana State Department of Health
and Department of Child Services
Children’s Program Director
Maternal and Child Health Services
Indiana State Department of Health
D: Tell us the story of Help Me Grow Indiana, from when it was an idea to where you are now.
S: In 2012, the Governor of Indiana started an Early Learning Advisory Committee. The Governor appointed the committee to research the impact and effects of having supportive early childhood programs such as On My Way Pre-K, Reach Out and Read, and more. This committee consisted of local and state stakeholders throughout the state, there are seven different workgroups, including a Child Development and Well-Being workgroup and a Data workgroup, all charged around shedding light and bringing awareness to early childhood in Indiana.
Indiana did not have a strong early childhood system, so this council is leading that charge. Indiana has 92 counties and the committee puts together county profiles to see if there are early childhood deserts without quality childcare, where there are high child poverty rates, and during their research, this group stumbled upon Help Me Grow.
The Child Development and Wellbeing workgroup did a lot of research around bringing HMG to Indiana and kept talking about it, so in 2016 the State Department of Health had the opportunity to apply for the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV) Innovations Grant and the Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems Impact Grant (ECCS). Indiana wrote and applied for both of those grants and put pieces of HMG into those grants. We were hoping to get one of those grants, and we were awarded both grants!
This helped speed along this process of bringing HMG to Indiana. Once we were awarded the grants, we leveraged the ELAC Child Development and Well Being workgroup to be our leadership committee. They knew that HMG had demonstrated success and that other states were having success in gathering stakeholders together, so it really appealed to our partners. As a result, we really have leveraged and embedded those groups within our HMG system. Specifically, we have utilized the Data workgroup to focus on the integration of our data collection and the Child Development and Well-being workgroup is a part of our Leadership Team.
D: I’m curious to hear more about the launch of your Centralized Access Point?
S: Our Centralized Access Point (CAP) is housed within our State Department of Health. The MOMS HelpLine re-branded in 2016, when writing the two grant applications we determined that would be the CAP. Prior to that, the Committee had reviewed other call centers together such as the Department of Child Services, 2-1-1, the MOMS HelpLine, and Early Intervention First Steps Hotline just to get information around different call centers throughout the state. What is very exciting about all of that is that although MOMS was re-branding, they did not update their data collection system, but 2-1-1 was planning to update their data collection system, and HMG needed a data collection system. We ended up all working together to use the same data collection system that could help us all communicate. While the HMG line is a separate number, we are housed within the MOMS HelpLine and have a partnership with 2-1-1 through a joint contract. This contract created a clear understanding between HMG and 2-1-1 so staff at 2-1-1 know what counties we are piloting in, which is 9 of the 92 counties, and they refer families to HMG when needed.
D: What has been one of your success stories so far?
S: We started taking calls in October 2018, which was not even after a year of starting HMG. I think a large credit to that is leveraging groups that were already formed and making sure that we had a seat at the table. Through our ECCS grant, we have embedded an Ages and Stages Questionnaire screen within a mom’s first appointment at a Women’s, Infants, and Children (WIC) Center. Since the launch of the CAP, the WIC Center has screened 228 families. In addition, WIC has referred 53 families for services – and this is a WIC center that is only open two times a week. We are still gathering other numbers, and look forward to seeing additional successes as more families connect with timely and appropriate services.
D: What about a challenge that you’ve encountered?
S: I think most states would say one of the biggest challenges is building a system from scratch. While that is incredibly exciting, it is also a big challenge. Part of that challenge is about how we message HMG when our partners have the assumption that something new will replace existing services or efforts. HMG aims to reach all families, especially those who do not meet certain eligibility requirements for other programs. We are very excited to be participating in the HMG National Center’s FrameLab Community of Practice with the FrameWorks Institute to help with that messaging piece.
D: How excited are you to host the Help Me Grow National Forum in 2020?
S: We are very excited! We know we can leverage this opportunity to highlight our state, highlight our successes, be transparent about our challenges, and bring more attention to HMG, especially to our Governor and state legislature. We have a lot of the right people in the right places right now and I think that we are making a big imprint on early childhood systems in the state right now and the Forum is the catalyst for us to keep that going.
The key to our success lies in a shared vision and joined forces. Save the date for three full days of collaboration, networking, and learning during the 11th Annual Help Me Grow National Forum in Indianapolis, IN from May 11-13, 2020!