Help Me Grow News
January 2019

National Center News and Resources

ACF Seeks Input Around Engagement with Tribal Communities
The Administration for Children and Families is seeking input through the Help Me Grow National Center about authentic engagement with tribal communities including strategies and best practices your affiliate network has utilized for collaborating and supporting tribal early childhood systems efforts. Share your efforts with the National Center!

Strengthening Communities: A Conversation with Paul Dworkin
HMG founding director, Dr. Paul Dworkin, calls out the state and national-level impact of HMG in a new interview posted on the Advancing Kids blog.

Meet the Newest Member of HMG National
Join us in welcoming Stephanie Luczak, the newest member of the HMG National Center! Stephanie serves as a Program Coordinator, providing support in the development, implementation, evaluation, and dissemination of relevant projects and outputs. Read about Stephanie’s background on our staff page and send Stephanie a message to introduce yourself and welcome her to the HMG Network!

Registration Coming Soon for Help Me Grow National Forum
Save the Date for the 10th Annual HMG National Forum in Buffalo, New York on May 6-8, 2019. Join us for three full days of shared expertise, best practices, and inspiration.

Follow Help Me Grow National on Facebook  

Funding & Capacity Building Bulletin (FCBB)

Check out the new opportunities from national partners, shared this month to the FCBB on the affiliate side of the HMG National Center website:

For continuing updates on opportunities like these, visit HMG National’s Funding & Capacity Building Bulletin.

Affiliate Network News and Resources

Meet HMG Indiana!
Help Me Grow Indiana (HMG IN), housed at the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) in partnership with the Department of Child Services (DCS), has launched its centralized access point. Indiana was awarded Maternal Infant Early Childhood Home Visiting Innovations and Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems Impact grant funding that has supported the launch of HMG in 9 counties: Delaware, Elkhart, Grant, Lake, La Porte, Madison, Marion, Scott, and St. Joseph. The HMG IN centralized access point will utilize the existing statewide MOMS Helpline phone number, with a specific HMG extension, along with the 2-1-1 Indiana database, to ensure that families and providers are connected to local resources. HMG IN is currently partnering with professionals and physicians within the early childhood systems statewide to ensure that ALL children are screened using the Ages and Stages Questionnaire and referred to services if needed. HMG IN has also created a feedback loop between HMG care coordinators, families, and providers.

Members of the ISDH and DCS have spent the last year traveling to the pilot counties to present on the Indiana vision for HMG implementation. Team members have presented at state and national conferences. In addition, HMG IN has adapted Learn the Signs, Act Early Materials so that they have Indiana specific resources printed on the materials. Using the Learn the Signs. Act Early materials empowers families to know and understand their child’s development and milestones. These materials are used to facilitate open dialogue between providers and families. These materials are provided at the presentations to help market Help Me Grow.

To learn more about HMG IN and connect with this new HMG affiliate partner, contact system leads Shannon Garrity and Kristi Linson.

Pediatric Practice Transformation: Maternal Depression Screening
Help Me Grow Long Island (HMG LI) organizing entity, Docs for Tots, recently released significant impact results from the organization’s 2-year maternal depression screening initiative. Docs for Tots is a non-profit organization led by pediatricians to promote practices, policies, and investments that will enable young children to thrive by creating linkages between doctors, policymakers, early childhood practitioners, and other stakeholders to ensure that children grow up healthy.

Recognizing that maternal mental health is critical to the developmental well-being of young children, Docs for Tots has invested in the provision of in-person quality improvement and technical assistance to five federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) while they implement maternal depression screening in the pediatric well child visit. The pediatric visit provides a unique opportunity to catch moms who may not be attending their own postnatal visits. Docs for Tots has made measurable impact over the 2-year project, including:

  • Successfully integrating maternal depression screening in five LIFQHC’s pediatric clinics
  • Delivering 20 trainings to over 300 medical providers and health center staff
  • Enabling over 400 screens to be given to postpartum women across all five practices
  • Partnering with numerous community organizations to provide direct educational content to new and expectant mothers across Long Island
  • Leading workshops to spread professional awareness at several conferences
  • Receiving a 2018 Honorable Mention in Innovative Community Solutions at the Maternal Mental Health Innovation Awards by 2020 Mom and the Marce Society of North America
  • Creating a comprehensive resource directory outlining available resources and supports for mothers in need

Each site is set up to continue the screening initiative as a sustainable part of their practice. As this project comes to an end, Docs for Tots is exploring how HMG LI can be utilized to address bi-generational wellbeing in 2019. 

To learn more and connect with HMG LI system leads, contact Liz Isakson and Melissa Passarelli.

Dr. Dworkin Visits HMG Onondaga to Celebrate Launch
The Early Childhood Alliance Onondaga in Onondaga County (Syracuse), New York officially launched Help Me Grow Onondaga on January 15th with a visit from HMG founder, Dr. Paul Dworkin. The Early Childhood Alliance (ECA) is a cross-sector coalition supporting parents and children so that all children are healthy, thriving, and ready to succeed in school. HMG Onondaga is a cornerstone strategy of the ECA’s work. 

With over two years of pre-planning, Onondaga built strong stakeholder engagement from County government, early childhood partners, family-serving agencies, and the pediatric community. During this early period, Onondaga partnered with 2-1-1 in a website redesign, to produce the HMG Onondaga centralized access point site, providing a user-friendly experience for parents and caregivers looking for early childhood community resources. The ECA also contracted with HMG National Center to conduct the HMG Readiness Assessment and Synthesis report to build a roadmap for HMG implementation. 

“Bringing Dr. Dworkin to Syracuse at this particular moment was a strategic step in our getting the community excited and aware of the launch of Help Me Grow,” said Laurie Black, Director of the Early Childhood Alliance. “No one is better at articulating how Help Me Grow leverages and enhances existing resources in order to develop and advance a comprehensive approach to early childhood system building in any given community.” 

While in Syracuse, Dr. Dworkin met with a cross-section of the community’s leadership, including the ECA business council, the Deputy County Executive of Human Services’ leadership team, the Onondaga County Pediatric Society, and presented at Upstate Medical University’s Pediatric Grand Rounds.

HMG Onondaga hired their first Care Coordinator, Jirah Johnson, in January and is working in partnership with the 2-1-1CNY call center. While Onondaga County is just getting started, they have received strong support from sister affiliates in New York State: HMG Western New York and HMG Long Island. Help Me Grow Onondaga is funded by the Health Foundation for Western and Central New York, a key and long-standing ally in bringing HMG to New York State.

To learn more about HMG Onondaga and connect with this new HMG affiliate partner, contact system lead Laurie Black.

In Vermont, Early Childhood Investment is Workforce Investment
Building Bright Futures, Vermont’s early childhood public-private partnership monitoring the state’s early care, health and education systems, released two key reports today intended to guide state leaders as they act to support children and families in Vermont. The sixth edition of How Are Vermont’s Young Children and Families is a data-rich look at the well-being of children in Vermont that covers topics including health, communities, economics and early care and learning. The Building Vermont’s Future from the Child Up Think Tank Report is the result of a multi-year effort involving hundreds of stakeholders statewide that re-imagines the future of early care and learning in Vermont.

“The healthy development of children relies on many factors, including nurturing relationships, strong community ties, and access to healthcare and quality early learning experiences to name a few,” said Carolyn Wesley, the Interim Executive Director at Building Bright Futures. “These two reports explore how Vermont is doing in meeting these developmental needs of children and families and provide key recommendations on how to move forward.”

Affiliate Resource Exchange

Check out this new resource shared to the affiliate side of the HMG National website:

Developmental Surveillance & Screening: The Help Me Grow National Center Standpoint: Presented by Dr. Paul Dworkin in November of 2018, this video details the HMG National Center’s ideological perspective on surveillance and screening.

Fulfilling the Promise: Interventions to Promote Children’s Healthy Development: Pediatric Grand Rounds presentation by Dr. Paul Dworkin to Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital in Syracuse, New York on January 16, 2019.

Tribal Early Learning Initiative: Collaborative Success: Report by the Administration for Children and Families regarding an early childhood systems building supported by ACF between 2012 and 2017. 

HMG leads may log on to the affiliate dashboard and click ‘Post a Resource’ or send directly to Sarah Zucker at the National Center.

What’s Dr. Dworkin Reading?

Validating the Wisdom of a “Good-Enough” Childhood
I now realize that I have long subscribed to the notion of “a good-enough childhood,” both in my personal life and my work as a developmental-behavioral pediatrician. A recent article from the Brookings Institution Center on Children and Families proposes a basic level of experience and stimulation above which the majority of children will normally develop without the need for extra intervention – a “good-enough model.”

The question is – have we been mistaken in subscribing to a standard perspective that suggests early experiences are the leading force determining later in life outcomes? 
Keep Reading

More from the HMG Blog

30% Increase in Numbers Served in 2018 Shows We’ve Been Aiming Too Low
At last year’s Help Me Grow National Forum, I set what I then believed to be an audacious goal for the National Network, that HMG centralized access points serve 20% more young children and their families than the year before. While I am delighted to share that the National Network not only met, but exceeded our goal, serving almost 30% more young children and their families through HMG centralized access points in 2018, what I believed just one year ago to be an ambitious goal was actually something easily achievable as a collective. The fact that the Network handily surpassed its goal has crystallized for me what is: that, in fact, our collective power is greater than I had even realized.
Keep Reading

The 30 Million Word Gap – Have We Had It Wrong the Whole Time?
Earlier this year, results were published for the first-ever replication study of the 30-Million-Word Gap, and their findings do not support the 1995 results. Does the lack of ability to replicate mean we should abandon what we believe about the importance of early exposure to language? A new blog by HMG National Center Associate Director, Erin Cornell, argues definitely not.
Keep Reading