Help Me Grow Florida 3rd Annual State Meeting

The Help Me Grow Florida 3rd Annual State Meeting held May 24th-25th in Orlando was a resounding success! The meeting allowed affiliates, stakeholders, and advocates to learn, connect, and network while bringing innovation to the initiative. The meeting featured an inspiring message from Dr. Paul Dworkin the Founding Director of Help Me Grow National Center.  His message reinforced to our affiliate partners how important their work is to the children and their families and provided motivation to continue moving the Help Me Grow initiative forward in Florida.

Dr. Phyllis Kalifeh (President/CEO, The Children’s Forum), and Dr. Wil Blechman (Children’s Forum Board of Directors Vice Chair, retired Physician and Child Advocate) spoke on the history and vision of Help Me Grow,  importance of physician and family engagement, and the significance of intervention during a child’s early years. Dr. Blechman reviewed the stages of early brain development and the impact Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) has on a child’s life. At the meeting, Florida legislator Representative Byron Donald was honored with an award for being an advocate, supporter, and true champion for children in the state of Florida.

Help Me Grow Florida affiliate panelists shared healthcare provider outreach best practices and challenges as well as opportunities for change. The panelists offered their perspective on several Help Me Grow Florida initiatives including the Well Visit Planner Pilot Project, health care provider iPad initiative, Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) partnership with Department of Health, and Books, Balls, and Blocks Community Screenings. This panel shed light on the efforts needed to sustain ongoing relationships with healthcare providers and how Help Me Grow Florida can integrate initiatives within outreach endeavors.

The State Meeting also kicked off Help Me Grow Florida’s partnership with Colgate’s Bright Smiles, Bright Futures program which offers free dental screenings and education across the globe. Moving forward, Colgate will support Books, Balls, and Blocks community screening events by offering free dental screenings through Mobile Dental Vans. This partnership will promote the idea that oral health is an essential part of overall health, increase access to child dental care, and enhance developmental screening events.

Following two days of thought-provoking presentations, information-sharing, and networking, Help Me Grow Florida will focus on the following action items: building affiliate capacity to analyze data and leverage lessons learned in the pursuit of continuous quality improvement, standardizing data collection methodologies to measure efficacy and impact in local Florida communities, and building and enhancing community systems of care going forward. This meeting allowed Help Me Grow Florida to shape the vision and mission of the Help Me Grow system and continue to support the healthy development of children in Florida.