Help Me Grow Orange County embraces the concept of supporting the healthy development of all young children by advancing developmental promotion, early detection, and connection to services. As an early adopter of the HMG model, the Orange County HMG system was established in 2005 and was the first site in the nation to replicate the Help Me Grow model established statewide in Connecticut in 2002. Help Me Grow provides a comprehensive, coordinated county-wide system for developmental promotion, early identification, referral and care coordination of children at risk for developmental, behavioral and learning problems from birth through age eight. This report provides information about the children and families served by Help Me Grow in calendar years 2016 through 2018 as captured in its System for Tracking Access to Referrals (STAR) database. Using the Results-Based Accountability™ framework, this evaluation documents and measures Help Me Grow’s efforts and impacts by answering the following questions:
How much did Help Me Grow do?
How well did Help Me Grow do it?
Are children and families better off as a result of using Help Me Grow?
Key Trends. While data findings for the concerns, referrals, connections to services and barriers tended to vary year by year, some trends have emerged:
- There was an increase in the percentage of Help Me Grow contacts for behavioral concerns (20% of all concerns in 2018, up from 17% in 2016).
- In 2018, 58% of those who sought prior help for a child’s concern were referred to Help Me Grow, down from 62% in 2016.
- In 2018, caregivers contacted Help Me Grow earlier where 41% of calls were for concerns that had arisen one week prior or less, compared with 34% in 2016.
- There were increases in percentages of referrals for mental health counseling (18% in 2018, up from 13% in 2016) and for communication/speech & language (11% in 2018, from 5% in 2016).
- In almost 95% of the Regional Center of Orange County referrals where children received an evaluation, these children were found eligible for Early Start and were receiving services.
- The positive overall outcome of “connected or pending” to at least one service remains relatively the same—72% to 74%—during the years 2016 through 2018.
- Almost 98% of caregivers responded positively when asked if their needs were met after receiving referrals or information for their child and family.
How does Help Me Grow Serve? During the three-year period between 2016 and 2018:
- Almost 8,800 children received services from Help Me Grow;
- Most of the children served were ages five and younger, with a plurality (20%) being four years old;
- Most families access Help Me Grow through the toll-free number, through the school district/state preschool or through Help Me Grow online portal. The top three concerns were behavioral, communication, and parental support;
- Care coordinators provided 22,080 referrals (a reported concern can have multiple referrals). The top three referrals were mental health/counseling, parenting/education, and communication/speech and language;
- Help Me Grow’s Connection Cafés, a networking event led by the Community Liaisons, drew almost 1,000 participants;
- Community Liaisons had almost 2,500 outreach activities with providers, including but not limited to maintenance of the resource inventory.