Connecticut Puts Developmental Needs First With Help Me Grow (HMG)
Explore how HMG builds collaboration across sectors, including child health care, early care and education, and family support services.
In the 1990s, Connecticut applied a developmental approach to how it connected at-risk children with the services they needed. 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 of young children as they navigate services and coordinate care. The Child Development Infoline, which is a specialized call center of the United Way of Connecticuts 2-1-1 system, is the access point for HMG. Rather than providing direct services, 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. 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. As the program has grown, new efforts are adding targeted attention to infants and toddlers. HMG Connecticut recently embarked on a campaign to raise public awareness of the need for early identification and intervention through the developmental screening of 2-year-olds in a number of Connecticut communities. This effort includes statewide and local promotion activities as well as local events involving parents, professionals, and community partners.
The HMG concept has been so well-received that it evolved to include national expansion efforts, including a National Center based at Connecticut Childrens Medical Center, initially funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The National Center expanded HMG to 19 affiliate states and continues to work toward expansion of the model nationwide. The Help Me Grow National Center (HMG National) 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. Read the full brief at http://www.zerotothree.org/public-policy.