Help Me Grow…is Growing!

We’ve made great progress in our second year implementing the Help Me Grow (HMG) model, a system to streamline early screening and intervention services for young children and families.

Screening young children for developmental delays and linking them to effective services provides immediate relief to concerned families and reduces the costs for special education or other services down the road. In California, most developmental concerns are not identified or addressed until children start kindergarten – missed opportunities to begin interventions early.

Contra Costa’s Help Me Grow system is working to change this in four effective ways:

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More Pediatricians to Offer Developmental Screening

ScreeningCan 385 x298Expanding the number of pediatricians who routinely provide developmental screening services to infants and toddlers is one goal of Help Me Grow, the system we’re building to connect children to the early screening and community services they need to thrive. Thanks to a generous grant from the Thomas J. Long Foundation, providing this vital service to more children is becoming a reality.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends developmental screening for children at 9, 18 and 24 months, but research shows that only about half of pediatricians report routinely screening patients younger than 36 months. The sooner children with delays receive help, the better they do in life, so it is critical to identify concerns as early as possible.

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Developmental Playgroups Help Kids Catch Up

playgroups2Children behind on their developmental milestones are getting help catching up, thanks to the developmental playgroups we’re funding at our First 5 Centers.

We launched the playgroups in 2013 on the heels of our new developmental screening program, which led to an increase in children being identified with developmental concerns or delays at a time when state funding for early intervention services had dwindled. With delays not serious enough to receive state-funded services, yet still in great need, we created the playgroups to make sure these vulnerable children didn’t fall further behind. Continue reading

Moving Toward Developmental Screening for All Children

screeningMore than 4,400 children have received developmental screening since we began training our partners to provide this critical yet underutilized service three years ago. Developmental screening is an important first step in diagnosing children who have developmental delays or autism, yet many young children fail to receive it.

To address this need, we started training children’s services providers on the Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ) in 2011. Since then, 280 providers from 58 agencies in Contra Costa County have been trained. Contra Costa County Public Health Nurses account for half of all providers trained.

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First 5 Contra Costa’s 2011 Highlights

2011 was another interesting and productive year at First 5 Contra Costa. We spent much of the year responding to the State’s attempt to divert $1 billion in First 5 funding, which forced us to make major program cuts for the first time.  Just two weeks ago, the Fresno Superior Court sided with First 5 and declared the State’s raid on First 5 funds “invalid.” We’ll know by February if the State decides to appeal.

Despite the political and economic pressures of last year, the tireless work of First 5 Contra Costa and our funded partners carried on.  Continue reading