First 5 Contra Costa is leading the local effort to implement Help Me Grow, a system of coordination used nationally to connect children to the early screening and community services they need to thrive. The HMG model has been implemented throughout the U.S. and in half of California’s counties.
Why Help Me Grow?
Screening young children for developmental delays and linking them to effective services can provide immediate relief to concerned families and reduce the costs for special education or other services down the road.
But in California, most developmental concerns are not identified or addressed until children start kindergarten. When children are diagnosed, many families have difficulty navigating the state’s fragmented and complicated service system. These are missed opportunities to begin interventions for children early, when they are more likely to be successful and cost-effective.
Help Me Grow Contra Costa improves children’s access to developmental screening by:
- Expanding screening and referral services in pediatric offices, preschools, and child care programs
- Creating a data collection system to identify successes, gaps, and delays in program service delivery
- Increasing use of online screening tools
- Raising awareness among parents about the importance of getting their children routinely screened
Help Me Grow Contra Costa connects families to services by:
- Training 211 operators to answer parent’s questions and connect them to services and support
- Creating a new system of identification and services for children with mild-to-moderate delays who do not qualify for state-funded services, and who otherwise would not receive help
- Creating a website with information about child development and local developmental services: www.helpmegrowcoco.org