A new joint policy statement, released by the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services, includes a recommendation for states to adopt a centralized intake, screening and referral process, specifically naming our Help Me Grow® system model.

The report, which encourages greater collaboration between federal home visiting programs and federally-required state early intervention programs, states that the adoption of a system model, such as Help Me Grow, would serve as an “effective way to ensure that families have timely access to appropriate services that meet their needs.”

Help Me Grow was developed by our Paul Dworkin, MD, in 1997 and has now been implemented by 28 affiliates that are leading more than 52 Help Me Grow® systems around the country. The Help Me Grow National Center, based at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, provides technical assistance and leads a vibrant and dynamic network of leaders that contribute to the national agenda on comprehensive early childhood system building.

The report notes that Help Me Grow is a “non-federal system that assists states in identifying children at risk for developmental and behavioral concerns and then helps families find community-based programs and services. HMG is a system that helps to build collaboration across sectors, including health care, early care and education, and family support.”

“It is exciting to see a local, innovative, system model that was piloted 20 years ago in Hartford now being diffused throughout the country and recommended as a strategy to achieve collective impact,” said Paul Dworkin, MD, executive vice president for community child health at Connecticut Children’s and founding director of the Help Me Grow National Center. “We are deeply appreciative of the transformative and systemic reform made by the administration to promote and fund innovative strategies that ensure expanded focus on vulnerable children and linkage to community programs.” 

Help Me Grow is a system model that provides a framework for ensuring all children and their families are linked to the services and supports needed to thrive,” said Kimberly Martini-Carvell, executive director of the Help Me Grow National Center. “This policy statement supports Help Me Grow’s policy message that screening should not happen independent of an integrated system of care that has a strong ability to link children and families to effective services.”

The Help Me Grow National Center is part of the Connecticut Children’s Office for Community Child Health, which is dedicated to promoting the optimal healthy development of all children.