BY MELISSA PASSARELLI
There are several sayings that I keep on a white board near my desk: “Every system is perfectly designed to get the results it gets”; “It’s about the work, not the worker”; and “You can grow flowers from where dirt used to be.” I think about these ideas a lot in relation to Help Me Grow (HMG).
My journey with HMG started in 2015, when I was working with federally-qualified health centers in my home region of Long Island, New York. That work was focused on supporting implementation of developmental screening and referral during well-child visits. While the screening and referral went really well, the wheels started to fall off when it came to actually linking these families – that faced varied and complex obstacles – to services. We started having conversations with others in the field of early childhood and recognized the same issue: there were many great services in our region, but families that needed those services the most were falling through the cracks. It is then that we learned about HMG, which was being implemented in upstate New York.
Fast forward to 8 years later. Not only did Long Island start implementing HMG with great success, but additional HMG implementations spread across New York, and I joined the HMG National Center in early 2022 to do what I love most, support the implementation of the country’s only evidence-based early childhood system model.
The Implementation & System Building branch is the bread and butter of HMG National: Our focus is on supporting states and communities in implementing the HMG Model to meet their local context, building upon existing assets, partnering with parents and caregivers to design targeted strategies, and advancing systems to meet the needs of all families with young children. I am joined in this work by our Implementation Specialist Nadia King, as well as HMG National Implementation Experts who have experience in implementing the Model in their own community and provide consultation to our diverse National Affiliate Network.
Implementation & System Building is charged with “technical assistance,” which is another term for coaching or support that provides expertise and a partner in troubleshooting to new and existing affiliates. We view technical assistance as falling into three levels:
- Universal: Offerings available to all affiliates as a benefit of affiliation, such as webinars, toolkits, etc.
- Targeted: Offerings focused on a small group of systems/professionals in an ongoing, sustainable way, such as Communities of Practice and Learning Communities.
- Intensive: Offerings that provide individualized coaching and capacity.
There is nothing we love more than connecting with our affiliates in this way, to both learn from you about how you approach the work and to provide additional knowledge, tools, and capacity to support your efforts. Our work includes helping new communities and states exploring the Model, providing guidance for implementation, and offering more intensive support around foundational understanding of HMG and its Core Components and Structural Requirements through our Building Expertise in Model Implementation offering or 1:1 coaching. For existing affiliates, this can mean supporting leadership transitions, helping with future visioning and strategic planning, focused technical assistance for specific needs, and designing and implementing initiatives to test innovations to the HMG Model.
We are so excited to move into this new phase of HMG. The Model has now been implemented in over 120 communities across 30 states, and as the realities of the early childhood field change – especially in the wake of COVID – we have learned so much and now have increased capacity and expertise to apply these learnings in new and exciting ways. This may look like new technical assistance offerings, improved onboarding processes, and updates to the Model itself to reflect the great work being done across the country and solidify what it means to do HMG. We are also working with national partners, such as through the Early Childhood Developmental Health Systems project, to provide further capacity for system building work. As always, updates to our approach will be informed by affiliate input, and we hope to hear from you about your ideas and needs as we improve how we support your work.
Get to Know the New HMG National Center
HMG National will be holding a roundtable discussion on July 26 for affiliates to meet all of our branch leads. Open to the full HMG Network, we invite you all to come and share your thoughts on how the National Center can best apply our new capacity to support your efforts.
Following the roundtable, each branch at HMG National will hold a listening session where you can drop in and spend some more time chatting with specific branch leads and other affiliates who want to be part of the conversation:
• COMMUNICATIONS & NETWORK RELATIONS (AUGUST 8, 2-3PM ET)
• IMPACT & NETWORK PERFORMANCE (AUGUST 16, 2-3PM ET)
• IMPLEMENTATION & SYSTEM-BUILDING (AUGUST 22, 2-3PM ET)
• POLICY & COMMUNITY CHANGE (AUGUST 29, 2-3PM ET)
Melissa Passarelli is the Associate Director of Implementation & System Building at the Help Me Grow National Center.
Nadia King is the Implementation & System Building Program Specialist at the Help Me Grow National Center