Help Me Grow
The goal of Help Me Grow Florida is to promote healthy development for every child in our state. Help Me Grow (HMG) is a unique, comprehensive, and integrated statewide system designed to address the need for early identification of developmental and/or behavioral concerns, and then to link children and their families to community-based developmental and behavioral services and supports.
Help Me Grow is an effective system because its efforts revolve around uniting a community to address the need for early detection through surveillance and screenings of children and building connections to community-based services and supports to address their needs.
Early detection and intervention are critical for optimal outcomes for children, but too often children miss this opportunity. Help Me Grow addresses this by building collaboration among community programs, providing a centralized access point for information and referral, promoting surveillance and screenings, as well as educating and informing the community.
Help Me Grow supports families, child health care, early care and education, and human service providers. The community can use Help Me Grow to identify early signs of developmental or behavioral concerns and the available community resources to address their needs. Without Help Me Grow, this sensitive period of opportunity may be missed due to untimely assessments or difficulty in finding and navigating appropriate resources.
The Help Me Grow System
The core components of the Help Me Grow system have been shown to decrease medical costs, build family resilience and protective factors, as well as maximize the efficiency of social service networks by creating a pathway for access to services through a central utilization model. Help Me Grow does not duplicate existing services. Rather, it is a system for improving access to existing resources and services for children through age eight. These central pillars are:
- A telephone access point that links families of young children with sources of support and services to address concerns about a child’s health, development, behavior and learning in a child’s first eight years of life.
- Child health care and education provider outreach trainings to educate our community about child development and the importance of early detection and intervention.
- Community outreach to promote the use of Help Me Grow and to provide networking opportunities for the community.
- Data collection to understand all aspects of the Help Me Grow system, including the identification of gaps and barriers in order to provide more effective services.
For more information about Help Me Grow National, please click here.
Florida became an affiliate of the Help Me Grow National network in 2012, with the simultaneous launching of the initiatives in Hillsborough and Miami-Dade counties. The 2014 Florida Legislature appropriated $2 million to establish a Help Me Grow State Coordinating Office, provide an infrastructure for a state Help Me Grow program, and to launch five additional Help Me Grow sites.
The appropriated funds for Florida’s Help Me Grow were contracted through the Department of Education’s Office of Early Learning to the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council, which was the designated the fiscal agent. Florida’s 2-1-1 organizations will be the organizing entities and the central telephone access point for the local affiliated. Families will be offered a comprehensive inventory of public and private servers and resources, spanning well beyond the developmental and behavioral issues of the child and addressing the full scope of needs of countless children and families across the state.
There are currently eleven established affiliates serving twenty-seven counties across the state. Soon, additional future affiliates will be joining the network to begin planning and resource building to cultivate the infrastructure for Help Me Grow with the support of the State Coordinating Office. For more information about your local Help Me Grow program, click here to learn more.
Help Me Grow Florida meets with its Steering Committee, which is comprised of partners and stakeholders from across the state, regularly. This group provides invaluable feedback and guidance to the development of the initiative and ensures that the Help Me Grow system remains connected to partnership across sectors. Meetings with the Steering Committee ensure providers and partners are not only informed but also directly engaged, in the expansion of Help Me Grow. There is also a State Advisory Committee which provides oversight in decision making and assists with state-wide planning and infrastructure development.
State Coordinating Office
The Help Me Grow Florida State Coordinating Office has been the focal point for the training and technical assistance to new Help Me Grow programs across the state in order to support their establishment and infrastructure building. Help Me Grow Florida currently is funded through the Children’s Forum, Inc. and the Department of Education’s Office of Early Learning. Specifically, the State Coordinating Office is responsible for:
- Training and technical assistance support to Help Me Grow affiliate sites and partners
- Monthly conference calls with the Help Me Grow state network through the Partner and Affiliate Counties Team (PACT)
- Meetings with and presentations to community stakeholders
- Coordinating state-wide subcommittees to develop and manage:
- Help Me Grow Florida website
- Help Me Grow state-wide data collection system
- Training resources for health and early care/education providers
- Project evaluation
- State-wide public awareness initiative