Connecticut Puts Developmental Needs First With Help Me Grow (HMG)
Connecticut’s Help Me Grow program is a free statewide program serving children and their families starting from pregnancy. The program connects Connecticut children and their families to community services and resources related to child health, behavior, development, and learning.
With Help Me Grow (HMG) Connecticut, a system for improving access to existing resources for children birth to 8 years old, there is a central point of contact for families with young children as they navigate services and coordinate care. The Child Development Infoline, which is a specialized call center of the United Way of Connecticut’s 2-1-1 system, is the access point for HMG. Connecticut’s HMG program serves pregnant women, parents, caregivers, social service agencies, child health providers, as well as early care and education providers.
HMG builds collaboration across sectors, including child health care, early care and education, and family support. Through comprehensive physician and community outreach and centralized information and referral centers, families are linked with needed programs and services. Connecticut’s HMG program recognizes the importance of universal developmental screening, to catch and treat potential developmental delays early. Through HMG, families can receive information on various topics related to their child’s development, such as managing difficult behaviors, toilet training, sleep issues, promoting language development, and typical developmental milestone information.
Doctors who received training from HMG were twice as likely to identify and refer children for services after being trained. HMG Connecticut connected more than 2,000 families to more than 3,000 services in 2014. Ongoing data collection and analysis help identify gaps in the system and barriers to accessing resources.
While the first Help Me Grow system was piloted in Hartford, Connecticut in 1997, the HMG concept has been so well-received that it evolved to include national expansion efforts, including a National Center based at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, initially funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The National Center expanded HMG to over 25 affiliate states and continues to work toward expansion of the model nationwide. The Help Me Grow National Center is developing a comprehensive data system to support HMG affiliates with data collection, tracking, and utilization.
This description of Connecticut’s work is highlighted in ZERO TO THREE’s publication A Place to Get Started: Innovation in Infant and Toddler State Policies.
Updated July 2019