While acknowledging the successful development of the HMG National Network and its support in proliferating efficient, effective, comprehensive early childhood systems across the country, there is both significant need and opportunity to hasten the growth of an evidence-based model that will support families in our quickly changing and greatly challenging world.

The Help Me Grow National Center is excited to share more information about our strategic planning endeavors as well as outline next steps going forward.

However, first we’ll take a quick look back. Beginning in 1997 in Hartford, Connecticut, and first replicated in Orange County, California in 2005, today the HMG National Affiliate Network has grown to 29 affiliate states operating 111 systems across the country. Over these last two decades, growth of the National Affiliate Network has been steady as new states and communities choose to implement the HMG Model in order to advance developmental promotion, early detection, referral, and linkage for all families raising young children.

To accelerate the HMG National Affiliate Network’s growth and impact, the HMG National Center has engaged in strategic planning to research and articulate growth priorities that will accelerate our impact for the next five years. To guide this strategy, the HMG National Center partnered with The Bridgespan Group to define “full potential” across several dimensions, and conducted a landscape analysis of the current state of the Network relative to that potential.

From July through November 2020, the HMG National Center engaged with affiliates and systems through one-on-one interviews, focus groups, a survey, and conversations with HMG Implementation Experts to identify broad strategic priorities. If you joined us for our recent webinar, the HMG National Center shared information about our work with Bridgespan and the resulting strategic growth plan, which includes five mutually reinforcing priority areas for HMG:

  1. Further validate HMG’s impact model and align National Affiliate Network on the outputs and outcomes that systems implementing with fidelity should achieve
  2. Accelerate ability for affiliates and systems to use data to create community change at the state and local levels
  3. Clearly define the role of HMG systems in advancing racial equity in communities and ensuring services are equitable through targeted universalism
  4. Secure robust funding for HMG in several states and build momentum for national policy agenda
  5. Pursue growth, primarily within existing systems (greater penetration in existing areas) and existing affiliates (greater coverage of state/region)

In our view, the most important deliverable from this work will be that the Help Me Grow National Center and National Affiliate Network are aligned on the priorities, fully understand and embrace their respective roles, and are prepared to successfully implement the strategy to achieve full potential.

We are so grateful for the input, ideas, reactions, probing questions, and unique perspectives offered by affiliates, national partners, and other constituents that helped shape the strategic growth plan and these five priority areas. Now it will be just as critical to solicit and listen to the voices of affiliates across the National Affiliate Network in this next phase of the work. The next phase will require every affiliate and system to provide input and help inform how best to translate these strategic growth priorities into activities and operations. It will also be important for the HMG National Center to articulate how it will support implementation. The HMG National Center always works to elevate and champion best practices from the National Affiliate Network and does not anticipate this high-level role changing. At the same time, the HMG National Center seeks to put in place the right supports and technical assistance in order to support affiliates and systems on this important work. To achieve our full potential, we must collectively advance HMG implementation.

Networks like HMG operate in a particular and complex way. They must coordinate and align on several levels:

  • The national-level, with the National Center leading the network-wide strategy and performing activities in support of affiliates;
  • The affiliate-level, with affiliates controlling their own activities, reflecting community needs that vary from place to place;
  • The overall network-level, with both affiliates and the National Center contributing to a set of unifying activities that, among other things, determine how the Network is governed, network-wide decisions are made, and resources are distributed.

Getting this piece right – in essence, figuring out how to align with, coordinate with, and implement toward strategic growth with and through affiliates – is critical to successfully implementing a comprehensive strategy.

Working in concert with the National Affiliate Network, The Bridgespan Group will lead us in these next few months. Their guidance will offer many opportunities for affiliates to learn, participate, and contribute to the strategic growth plan. This will include a broad-based way of gathering input from the entire network to understand perceptions of draft priorities, inform national supports that would be needed for affiliates to execute the priorities, and topic-specific working groups of affiliates focusing in on key pieces of a viable plan.

Help Me Grow National is seeking input from affiliates on critical questions that still need to be answered including:
  • How should the five draft strategic priorities be refined?
  • Should national-level current draft growth projections be refined?
  • What are the key services and supports that the HMG National Center will need to provide?
  • What key roles will affiliate states and systems play in implementing the strategic priorities?

Our paramount aim is to be as inclusive, collective, and heedful as possible as we move forward in co-constructing an exciting and promising plan for accelerated growth of HMG. We cannot wait to begin working together in order to pave the way for the future of our National Affiliate Network and the HMG Model. Together we will ensure that there is universal access to a comprehensive early childhood system that provides targeted supports for all young children and their families.

For opportunities to participate and contribute as we further develop our plan to accelerate HMG growth and impact, visit our Help Me Grow Strategic Growth Planning – Resources, Opportunities & Updates page.

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.