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Help Me Grow

U.S Depts of Education and Health Endorse Help Me Grow System Model

Twenty years ago, a model for building a comprehensive, statewide, coordinated system for connecting at-risk kids and families to services and resources was piloted in Connecticut. That model was called Help Me Grow, and it has since been tested, refined, and replicated across 28 states nationwide under the amazing leadership of the Help Me Grow National Center. In 2010, Washington State became the 8th state affiliate for the Help Me Grow model and WithinReach was appointed as the official state affiliate and organizing lead.

Last month, the success of the HMG model was highlighted in a new joint policy statement released by the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services. The statement includes a recommendation for states to adopt a centralized intake, screening and referral process, specifically naming the Help Me Grow® system model.

The report notes that Help Me Grow is a “non-federal system that assists states in identifying children at risk for developmental and behavioral concerns and then helps families find community-based programs and services. HMG is a system that helps to build collaboration across sectors, including health care, early care and education, and family support.”

Since becoming an affiliate, WithinReach has acted as the central access point for families, expanding our resource directory, service delivery and collection of data that informs systems change. As the other model components hinge upon a strong central access point, this lays a critical foundation for future provider and community outreach efforts.

Our very first Help Me Grow family was Ginelle and Chloe. Navigating through complex social and health systems while trying to find the resources you and your family need to be healthy is overwhelming. The story of our work together with Ginelle to ensure Chloe received all of the care she needed is highlighted in our Help Me Grow program video.

The Help Me Grow model is a simple solution that builds on existing resources. Through comprehensive physician and community outreach and centralized information and referral centers, families are linked with needed programs and services. Ongoing data collection and analysis helps identify gaps in and barriers to the system.

Through participation in regional and statewide partnerships, WithinReach has raised visibility of this valuable model and cultivated interest in family-centered resource connection. As grants and projects permit, Washington partners (such as the State Departments of Health and Early Learning, Washington State Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and regional early learning coalitions) work to promote developmental screening, quality referral processes, and meaningful cross-sector coordination. As noted in the report, a cross-sector model helps systems to “maximize service delivery and resources, ensure that families get needed services, and ultimately improve outcomes to change the developmental trajectory of vulnerable infants and toddlers.”

We are heartened by the endorsement of U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services for other states to adopt the Help Me Grow model because we’ve seen it do great things for kids in Washington. Every family deserves access to the right resources when they need them. To learn more about Help Me Grow in Washington, visit parenthelp123.org. Or, learn more about the Help Me Grow National Center.

Tags: Help Me Grow   US Department of Education   US Department of Health   Washington state   

Back to (pre-)school partnerships

Over the last year and a half, the Bothell Family Co-op Preschool has partnered with Help Me Grow to expand use of the Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ).  The expansion includes working with preschool teachers and families to allow ASQ results to be part of the parent-teacher conversation, and for the results to inform and improve practices in the classroom. Since the trial run was so successful, we are excited to expand this service to other affiliated co-op preschools within the Shoreline Community College’s Parenting Education Program this fall.

Co-op Preschools Provide Optimal Environment for Parent Engagement

The cooperative preschool model brings parents and skilled educators together to provide a rich learning experience for children. Parents assist in their child’s preschool once a week and attend meetings on child development, kindergarten readiness, emotion coaching and more. Parents are active partners in their children’s learning and development. Educators are poised to help reframe developmental screening—once seen as a strictly diagnostic tool—as an educational strategy for optimizing child development that is suitable for all children.

Unique Professionals

The preschool teachers have unique insight into co-op families’ lives, and are trusted sources of information. To support this valuable dynamic, WithinReach offers its ASQ to preschool teachers to bring to their students’ families. The ASQ can spark important conversation with parents about their child’s development. Teachers are trained to present the tool and empower parents to observe their child’s skills. In addition to parent education, the results can inform how teachers plan their curriculum.

Help Me Grow

WithinReach’s Help Me Grow team equips teachers to present the ASQ and utilize the results. Teachers direct families to WithinReach’s free online ASQ, where parents complete and submit it. A WithinReach Child Development Specialist calls each parent to discuss their results, along with any community resources to foster child growth, e.g. Play & Learn groups or additional evaluation. With parent permission, WithinReach staff sends a copy of the results to the preschool teacher. WithinReach’s unique role involves lending parents a fresh ear, triaging families to community resources, and informing teachers of each child’s developmental status so that everyone can work together to create a positive learning environment.

We are excited about this partnership, unique population, and opportunity to expand access to developmental screening in a new and creative way.

For more information about the Help Me Grow program, call our WithinReach Family Health Hotline at 1-800-322-2588 or visit Parenthelp123.org

Tags: Ages and Stages Questionnaire   Child Development   Developmental Screening   Help Me Grow   preschool   

How Help Me Grow Supports Washington State’s Early Learning Initiatives

Co-written with Keri Foster, Help Me Grow Family Engagement Specialist, AmeriCorps VISTA
Washington State is committed to supporting early learning for all children. We know that kindergarten readiness is an issue in our state. According to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), only 44% of students showed up to their first day of kindergarten ready to learn (OSPI, 2005). The Washington State Early Learning Plan identifies specific strategies that support early learning professionals to increase their quality of care and interactions with children to improve outcomes for children in school and throughout their lifespan. At WithinReach, our Help Me Grow program is supporting the state’s efforts by joining with community partners who are making early learning a focus. Screening for healthy child development is happening more and more during wellness visits at the doctors, in child care settings, and preschools. We are stepping up to help our partners increase their screening efforts and quality by helping families access community-based resources.
For example, we are partnering with the Washington Chapter American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to support primary care physicians to conduct regular screening and ensure families get connected to resources that support their children. We are also partnering with local preschools and child care sites to explore ways to support staff and parents to make screening a regular onsite activity. In preschool and child care settings we are also helping to facilitate the follow-up conversations where parents receive feedback on their child’s development. When we partner with professionals who are serving children, we can have a greater impact. Good health, strong families, and supportive learning experiences are all needed to enable children to succeed in school and life.

Kelly Smith

Bio: Kelly Smith is the new Help Me Grow Program Manager. She brings her passion for building strong families and supporting healthy kids. Before coming to WithinReach, she spent eight years working to address homelessness in Washington State by working to ensure homeless families have the resources they need to thrive. Prior to that, she worked at the YMCA at a drop-in center for teens.

For more information about the Help Me Grow program, call our WithinReach Family Health Hotline at 1-800-322-2588 or visit Parenthelp123.org

 

Tags: Child Development   Developmental Screening   Help Me Grow   kindergarten ready   OSPI   School readiness   Washington Chapter American Academy of Pediatrics   Washington state   

Help Me Grow Washington Partners With Parent Support Groups

Written by Help Me Grow AmeriCorps VISTA, Keri Foster

Our Help Me Grow team had the opportunity to talk with eight PEPS groups this year. PEPS stands for Program for Early Parent Support. This program helps connect new parents to other new parents in their community and offers a place to grow, learn, and share their journey into parenthood. There are 12 weekly PEPS meetings in a session and this unique program offers neighborhood-based resources and education opportunities. Each week, group discussions are on a topic related to parenting from feeding, to child development, to local baby-friendly activities.

Attending these meetings was not only a great experience, it was also fun.  The babies were all so cute and playful. It was heartwarming to see all the moms (and dads) supporting each other in learning about their babies growth.

We talked about the topic of child development and did an activity-based questionnaire which gives parents a snapshot of their baby’s development. The questionnaire is an engaging way to have solid activities and skills to be working on while getting concrete feedback about their baby’s development.  It seemed like one of their favorite things was learning about specific developmental milestones. One mom said, “ooh, my baby kisses his image in the mirror!” How hilarious and adorable. Babies are learning so much, and even recognizing themselves in the mirror shows that they’ve reached a psychological milestone.

The most rewarding part of this experience was working with such a captivating audience of new parents. One of my favorite things was hearing the parents talk about what their babies were learning and the new skills they were mastering. The WithinReach Help Me Grow team is looking forward to continuing educating and supporting PEPS groups in the future.

Resources and activities for your child can be found on our Pinterest page. If you would like to get involved in your baby’s development, complete an Ages and Stages Questionnaire today! Call our WithinReach Family Health Hotline at 1-800-322-2588 or visit Parenthelp123.org.
 
 

Tags: Child Development   Help Me Grow   PEPS   Seattle   

Parents Share Their Experiences With the Ages and Stages Questionnaire

Written by Help Me Grow AmeriCorps VISTA, Keri Foster

As a parent, have you ever wondered, ‘Is my child on track for preschool?’ Developmental milestones are key skills that children learn at predictable times; knowing where your child is at in reaching these milestones is a great way to make sure they’re making good progress towards school readiness. That’s why the Help Me Grow Washington program at WithinReach provides families with the Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ), an easy to use, doctor recommended tool for checking in on your child’s developmental milestones.

The Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ) is an activity-based developmental screening questionnaire that asks you to look at your child’s development by completing simple activities together. For example, on the ASQ for a 14 month old baby, the questionnaire asks, “when your baby wants something does she tell you by pointing at it.” You can answer yes, sometimes, or not yet. By completing the ASQ, you can find out what your child is capable of, what their strengths are, and what you can work on together – even if they’re on track.

Parents report having a positive experience filling out the Ages and Stages Questionnaire with their child. According to Scott, a participating father, the questionnaire was accessible: “it wasn’t arduous which I kind of expected and I thought it might be harder.” In fact, he and his daughter, “had a fun time doing it together. [Emma] liked showing off what she could do and so not only did I feel like I could answer the questions, we had a good time.” Watch a video of Scott and Emma completing the ASQ.

The questionnaire can be done in the comfort in your own home. It can also give you insight into new activities you and your child can do to practice emerging skills. Other parents describe similar positive experiences. Kelly, mother to a 14 month old explains, “it gave me some ideas of what I could be working [on] with my daughter. I know some things in our daily life that incorporate picking up things or being able to go up and down stairs so it gave me some ideas of activities we could be doing around the house [to support her development].” Watch a video of Kelly and her daughter completing the ASQ.

Filling out the Ages and Stages Questionnaire is not only simple and fun, it is also a great way to spend quality time with your child and be actively involved in your child’s developmental growth. Plus, we’ll connect you with activity suggestions and community resources that help you support your child’s early learning goals. To get involved in your child’s development complete an Ages and Stages Questionnaire today! Call our WithinReach Family Health Hotline at 1-800-322-2588 or visit Parenthelp123.org.

Tags: Child Development   Developmental Screening   Help Me Grow   

I Am Five: Help Me Learn and Grow

Written by Help Me Grow AmeriCorps VISTA, Keri Foster
As a parent, have you ever wondered, ‘Is my child on track for preschool?’ Developmental milestones are key skills that children learn at predictable times; knowing where your child is at in reaching these milestones is a great way to make sure they’re making progress towards school readiness. That’s why the Help Me Grow Washington program at WithinReach provides families with the Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ), a free, easy to use, doctor recommended tool for checking in on your child’s developmental milestones.
Children are natural learners. They learn very quickly in their early years and in many ways. Most of the time they do not need to be “taught” to learn, they are learning simply by watching, listening, asking, trying new things, and practicing skills. Here are some fun activities to encourage your child’s development.
That’s a Wrap: This activity utilizes your child’s fine motor skills. Give your child a small sturdy box. Cut a piece of wrapping paper for your child. Let them decorate the paper using stickers, markers, or stamps. Let your child wrap the box with the wrapping paper. This helps develop control of small muscles in their hands and fingers when they hold the paper down, and put the tape on it. It also helps your child’s creativity when decorating the wrapping paper.

Animals All Over: This activity helps to engage your child’s gross motor skills. You will need pictures of animals. Turn the pictures of animals face down. Take turns with your child choosing a picture. Act out the animal you picked together. For example, you will jump for a kangaroo or run fast for a cheetah. This helps your child use their large muscles in their body when they are acting like different animals.

Role Plays: This activity works on your child’s personal-social skills. Collect some items that your child can use to create a pretend restaurant, doctor’s office, or another setting. Have your child take turns playing different roles with another person. This activity promotes creativity in your child when using pretend play items. When role playing with your child, try asking them more questions to help them think further about their role. For example, when playing restaurant, say to your child things like, “I really like French fries. Can I get some French fries with ketchup?” or “Does this restaurant have milkshakes? What kind of milkshakes do you have?”

Tags: Ages and Stages Questionnaire   Developmental Screening   Help Me Grow   

Congratulations to Ginelle Nault: Recipient of the Unsung Hero Award

Our heartfelt congratulations go out to Ginelle Nault, recipient of the Unsung Hero Award from Strengthening Families Washington – Department of Early Learning . This award recognizes our everyday heroes and honors the important role caregivers play in children’s lives. We were proud to nominate Ginelle for this award, and are thrilled that she is being recognized for the work she has done to strengthen her family and her community.

You may remember Ginelle from our 2013 Healthy Connections luncheon, where she conquered major stage fright to speak in front of our 500 guests. She spoke passionately and honestly about finding the help she needed to connect her daughter, Chloe, to early intervention through our Help Me Grow program, a program that connects families to the resources they need to make sure their kids are growing and developing on track. By providing a free child development screening (Ages and Stages Questionnaire), as well as activity suggestions and community resource information, Help Me Grow empowers parents to check on their child’s development.

Ginelle came to our program seeking support for Chloe after trying every other avenue she could think of, and our staff was able to connect them to the Birth to Three Early Intervention program at Providence Children’s Center where Chloe received further evaluation, diagnosis and eventual help from speech language and occupational therapists.

Following Chloe’s autism diagnosis, Ginelle and her husband have demonstrated tremendous resilience, a commitment to expanding their knowledge of Chloe’s development, and an outstanding commitment to building her social-emotional competence. Thanks to her parents’ unwavering support, Chloe not only receives help from speech language and occupational therapists, but has also participated in multiple intensive studies through the University of Washington. The improvements in Chloe’s developmental progress are truly remarkable.

In addition to the support she has provided her daughter, Ginelle has been a committed Help Me Grow program champion, helping other families access the services that so positively impacted Chloe’s trajectory. Ginelle appeared in a promotional video for Help Me Grow that was intended for a small, one-time audience. Due to Ginelle’s remarkably open and relatable testimony, thousands have seen the video and learned about Help Me Grow.

If you would like to learn more about Help Me Grow and the other ways WithinReach works to make the connections Washington families need to be healthy, join us at our 2014 Healthy Connections Luncheon on March 12, 2014.

Tags: Ages and Stages Questionnaire   Child Development   Help Me Grow   

I Am Four: Help Me Learn and Grow

Written by Help Me Grow Vista, Keri Foster

As a parent, have you ever wondered, ‘Is my child on track for preschool?’ Developmental milestones are key skills that children learn at predictable times; knowing where your child is at in reaching these milestones is a great way to make sure they’re making progress towards school readiness. That’s why the Help Me Grow Washington program at WithinReach provides families with the Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ), a free, easy to use, doctor recommended tool for checking in on your child’s developmental milestones.

At age 4-5 , the main thing children need from play with parents/caregivers is to have fun with them! It is important not to turn play into a “lesson”. The best way you can play with children is to provide an interesting environment, have time to play, and follow your child’s lead. Here are some  fun activities to do with your child ages 4-5 years old.

My Own Story Book: This activity uses your child’s language and communication skills. Begin by encouraging your child to tell you a story and write down what they tell you. Encourage your child to draw pictures after telling you their story. When your child is done, show your child their story and read it back to them. This activity helps your child use their language skills to describe their pictures to you.

Count and Wait: This activity applies their problem-solving skills. When you are waiting for something to happen, count out with your child how long it takes for it to happen. You can try this when riding in the car and waiting for the light to change or when waiting for a train to pass on the railroad tracks. This simple activity helps your child learn to be more patient and will help him/her with waiting in the future in situations when you are not around. This activity also helps your child with their counting!

You’ve Got Mail: This activity helps with your child’s fine motor skills. Start with letting your child open the junk mail. They can use their fingers to open the mail, they may even try to tell you what the mail says! Help your child write letters to family members or a friend and show them how to put them in the mail. This activity helps your child control their fine motor skills when putting the letters in the mail slot. Take them to the post office and show them how you put the stamp on and mail the letter.

 

Tags: Ages and Stages Questionnaire   Child Development   Help Me Grow   

Help Your Two Year Old Learn and Grow!

Written by Help Me Grow VISTA, Keri Foster

Help Me Grow Washington is a free program dedicated to helping you understand and support your child’s development. Complete a doctor recommended Ages & Stages Questionnaire, an activity based survey that looks at your child’s ability to complete simple activities in five areas of development. Here are some other fun activities to do with your child ages 2-3 years old. For more activities like this visit our Pinterest page.

I am two.
In the second year, don’t be surprised if your child is frightened of falling in the toilet! Certain concepts such as size, space, and distance are still abstract. However, your child is grasping the idea of categorizing and sorting objects into understandable groups. Encourage development through play by trying out these fun activities.

Counting and Grouping: This is an activity that exercises your child’s problem-solving skills. Start with giving your child a piece of cereal. Tell your child, “Here is one piece of cereal.” Give your child another piece of cereal and tell them, “Here is another piece of cereal. Now there are two pieces of cereal.” Do the same thing with using balls and blocks. Then group the cereal, balls, and blocks in twos. Tell your child, “See, there are two cereal pieces, two balls and two blocks. Let’s count them.” Through this activity your child will begin to learn the concepts of quantity and how things can be grouped together.

Being a Little Parent: This activity helps develop personal-social skills. You will need plastic dishes, baby blanket, hair brush, and a plastic baby doll or stuffed animal. Begin with showing your child how they can use the spoon or fork to feed the baby doll. Show your child how to use the brush to “brush” the doll’s hair. Lastly, show your child how to use the baby blanket to cover the baby doll during “nap time”. This helps your child practice pretend play and imagination skills using real life objects.

Picture Book Game: This is a fun activity that helps strengthen language and communication skills. You will simply need a few of your child’s favorite picture books. Show your child the pictures in the book. To see if your child understands and can identify pictures, ask a question such as, “Where is the dog?” Model how to label items you see by pointing and saying the names (“ball”, “car”, etc.) or using a phrase such as “I see the dog”.

Tags: Ages and Stages Questionnaire   Child Development   Help Me Grow   

New Grant Brings Focus to Teen Parents in Southeast Washington

The statistics below are examples of some of challenges associated with pregnant and parenting teens and their children, including low rates of on time high school graduation; elevated risk of physical, psychological and sexual abuse; increased likelihood of developmental delays in children of teen parents; as well as low lifetime earnings and higher instances of adverse childhood experiences for both teens and their children.

  • 56% of women who gave birth in Adams County in 2011 have less than a high school education.
  •  22% of pregnant and parenting teens experience some form of abuse surrounding the time of pregnancy.
  • 50% of Hispanic women in Washington will experience a pregnancy in their teen years.
  • 20% of children born to teen parents have developmental delays.

In order to address these challenges, the WithinReach Help Me Grow Washington program will be participating in a new four-year “Expectant and Parenting Teens, Women, Fathers and Families” federal grant that focuses on Grant, Adams, Franklin, and Yakima counties, where teen pregnancy rates are the highest in the state. WithinReach is excited to be partnering on the grant with the Washington State Department of Health, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, the Attorney General’s Office, Washington Coalition Against Sexual Assault, Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence and local service providers, all implementing strategies to support teen parents and improve education and health outcomes.

The goals of the project include increasing educational achievement of teen parents; reducing the number of subsequent pregnancies during the teen years; and enhancing child development, parenting skills, relationship skills and health literacy. The grant work has an emphasis on the local Hispanic population. This is because of the 997 teen births occurring in the four county region in 2011, 72% were born to Hispanic women. In addition, the Hispanic population is at particularly high risk for negative outcomes and may face the additional challenge of finding culturally and linguistically appropriate support services.

Help Me Grow Washington will serve as an evidence based program providing culturally and linguistically appropriate outreach, developmental screening services and connections to local resources and state benefit programs targeting teen parents in the region. This service is essential because children of teen parents are more likely to experience developmental delays and many teen parents are less comfortable accurately gauging their child’s developmental progress. Help Me Grow Washington services will increase the number of children with delays that are detected early and will also provide connections to care and to supportive services like Basic Food, low cost health insurance and parent support.

Tags: federal grant   Help Me Grow   teen pregnancy   Washington Department of Health   

Take Advantage of Your Child’s Brain Power

In Washington State, less than half of kindergarteners are considered school ready on their first day of kindergarten. Getting your child ready for school is more than buying No. 2 pencils and safety scissors; school readiness is the set of social, cognitive, pre-literacy, and self regulatory skills children need to thrive in a school environment.
Kindergarten readiness doesn’t start the last week of summer vacation – between birth and age three, over 700 new neural connections are formed in a child’s brain every second. As a parent, and your child’s first and most important teacher, here are 3 strategies to take advantage of your child’s early brain power.
1.    Storytelling: whether reading a picture book, making up a story or regularly asking your child to tell you about their day, storytelling builds early communication and pre-literacy skills. Kids not only increase their vocabulary, memory and language capacity, but they also learn about framing events on a linear timeline – a skill that is helpful when learning to read, follow directions and communicate clearly with others.
2.    Consistency and routine: As early as 3 months old, babies start to build memory skills. Consistency and repetition support memory by allowing infants and toddlers to build context, feel secure and practice remembering skills and activities. Routine is especially important to kindergarten readiness because kindergarten is highly structured. Children who are not familiar with these expectations may have a particularly difficult time adjusting.
3.    Encourage curiosity:  While it’s important to do this in a safe, kid-proofed environment, allowing time for unstructured exploration encourages sensory development and early problem solving skills. Infants are learning everything at once and using all of their senses. Think of this information gathering as research for toddlers. As kids use this information gathering to try new tasks (like fitting together stacking cups), they develop their ability to solve problems. As your child explores, mirror their laughter and expressions of excitement and narrate their activities rather than directing them.
To make sure your child is on track for school, call the WithinReach Family Health Hotline and ask about Help Me Grow Washington. Parents and caretakers can check in on their child’s development with a free developmental questionnaire they can complete at home. Participating families also receive age-specific activity suggestions that support healthy development through play; referrals for early learning and family support resources; and connections to extra developmental support for kids who need it.

Tags: Child Development   Help Me Grow   School readiness   

Early Detection Starts With Developmental Screening

Written by Help Me Grow Americorps VISTA member, Kate Imus

When I started my year of service as an AmeriCorps*VISTA  with the Help Me Grow Washington program, I was prepared for the work, but new to the topics of child development and developmental screening. Given my limited experience with kids, I was shocked to hear that an estimated 17% of children have developmental delays including speech articulation issues, ADHD and autism. Because only 30% of these kids are identified as delayed before starting kindergarten, often they have not had access to treatment, and many start kindergarten already behind. School readiness – or the cognitive, pre-literacy, social and self regulatory skills children need to succeed in a school environment – is essential for setting kids up for the best start in school and in life.

More surprising is that kids who aren’t school ready when they enter kindergarten are unlikely to catch up. They’re less likely to graduate on time, more likely to repeat grades, and more likely to be enrolled in long term special education. They even experience higher rates of teen pregnancy, delinquency, incarceration and low earnings.

Of course, not all kids who aren’t school ready will experience these outcomes, and school readiness is not just a concern for children with delays. But given the lifelong impact of school readiness and the success of early interventions like physical, occupational and speech therapy, there is ample incentive to try and detect as many kids with delays as possible, as early as possible.

Early detection starts with developmental screening. Screening is a quick and interactive way to get a snapshot of a child’s development and to see which kids may need further evaluation or support, but only 25% of Washington kids receive screening at any point. Because the early signs of delay may be hard to see, the best way to catch delays early – when treatment is most effective and outcomes are best – is to screen all kids regularly.

Free screening and other services are available for all WA kids up to age five through the Help Me Grow WA program.

Tags: Child Development   Developmental Screening   Help Me Grow   

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