MEDIA CONTACT:   Monica Buchanan, Director of Communications

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HARTFORD, Conn. –   The Help Me Grow National Center received generous support from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation to sponsor its 10th Help Me Grow National Forum. The event, planned in partnership with the Help Me Grow Western New York affiliate, runs from May 6-8 in Buffalo, New York.

The Foundation’s nearly $350,000 grant will enable the National Center to bring two leading early childhood advocates to the event as keynote speakers. Angela Santomero, a television producer and co-creator of the children’s television program Blues Clues, will deliver the opening keynote address. Santomero’s remarks will focus on strategies early childhood experts can incorporate to encourage families to keep screen time limited and learning-based to assist in the promotion of optimal development. Mona Hanna-Attisha, MD, a pediatrician and public health advocate whose research exposed the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, will deliver the closing keynote address. Dr. Hanna-Attisha’s remarks will focus on how environmental issues, such as housing and nutrition, affect child development as well as outcomes across a lifespan.

“Both speakers address issues related to child and family well-being that are critical to our work at the National Center in building stronger systems of support for children and their families,” said Kimberly Martini-Carvell, executive director of the Help Me Grow National Center. “Both issues directly impact school readiness and are important to address in our ongoing conversation about how to ensure all children get the best possible start in life.”

Besides the keynote addresses, the Forum will include more than 30 breakout sessions from Help Me Grow affiliates and partners, as well as plenary sessions that illustrate the incredible growth and momentum of Help Me Grow in New York. About 500 early childhood advocates will attend the 3-day event from around the country.

In addition to the Forum, the grant positions the National Center and its affiliates to engage with the prestigious FrameWorks Institute, which specializes in helping non-profit organizations use evidence-based communication practices to further conversations on public policy priorities. The grant also funds graphic design work to highlight the new messaging.

“We feel it is the right time in the evolution of Help Me Grow to refine our messaging by developing a new approach that the National Center as well as our affiliates can incorporate,” said Erin Cornell, MPH, associate director of the Help Me Grow National Center. “We are excited to work together with FrameWorks and selected affiliates in a Community of Practice to highlight the progress we have made advancing early childhood systems during Help Me Grow’s 22-year history and elevate our future priorities.”

FrameWorks will debut some of the revised messaging in their Hall of Frames exhibit at the Forum. Additional Forum highlights include the opening reception hosted by the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation at the Explore & More Children’s Museum in Buffalo, and host sessions, which provide attendees a chance to visit sites around Buffalo such as the Help Me Grow Western New York call center.

“The Help Me Grow model strengthens the abilities of families and anyone who touches the lives of children to provide positive early life experiences,” noted Lynn Pullano, EdM, director of Help Me Grow Western New York.  “As the original Help Me Grow affiliate in New York State, we’re delighted to host the 2019 Forum to promote proven strategies that measurably improve health, development and school preparedness of young children.”

Help Me Grow National Center is the only national organization working to coordinate services system-wide among child serving sectors while providing access to a broad range of interventions specifically targeting vulnerable children and families. Paul H. Dworkin, MD developed the Help Me Grow model in 1997 and pilot tested it in Hartford, Connecticut. The model expanded statewide in 2002 and is now in 28 affiliate states that receive technical assistance and support from the National Center at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center.

The nationwide Help Me Grow affiliate network serves nearly 110,000 children and families each year through centralized call centers where care coordinators field questions from physicians and caregivers, connect families to services, and follow up to ensure such services are beneficial. In addition, Help Me Grow affiliates reach more than 220,000 families through targeted outreach events and media campaigns each year.

About Connecticut Children’s Medical Center:

Connecticut Children’s Medical Center is the only hospital in Connecticut dedicated exclusively to the care of children and is ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the best children’s hospitals in the nation. With a medical staff of more than 1,000, Connecticut Children’s provides comprehensive, world-class health care in more than 30 pediatric specialties and subspecialties. Connecticut Children’s Medical Center is a not-for-profit organization, which serves as the primary pediatric teaching hospital for the UConn School of Medicine, has a teaching partnership with the Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine at Quinnipiac University and is a research partner of The Jackson Laboratory. Connecticut Children’s Office for Community Child Health is a national leader in community-based prevention and wellness programs.

About Help Me Grow Western New York:

Help Me Grow Western New York’s mission is to promote positive development of young children by informing families about resources related to child development and parenting, linking them with these resources, and creating stronger connections between systems and organizations that serve children ages 0-5 and their families. For more information, visit or call 2-1-1 and press 7.