Help Me Grow California
The Help Me Grow California system follows the Help Me Grow National model that advances the use of developmental screenings to detect developmental and behavioral delays in children and successfully linking them to appropriate interventions and services within their community. By strengthening protective factors in families, Help Me Grow supports parents and caregivers to better understand and promote their child’s developmental milestones and encourages their readiness to learn and succeed in school. Working under the premise of what an ideal early identification and intervention system can do for our children, Help Me Grow is connecting the dots across healthcare, early education, community resources and the family to ensure children achieve their optimal, healthy development.
Developmental Screenings Matter
It is well documented that a child’s brain develops faster in the first three years than at any other time in their life. During this period of rapid growth, it is crucial to determine if a child’s development is on track and address any concerns as early as possible to have the greatest impact. The failure to identify developmental delays puts children at risk for life-long problems that can affect their long-term health outcomes, educational achievement and successful independence.
Periodic developmental screenings provide a gauge of how a child is doing and are an excellent source of information for parents, caregivers and educators regarding whether or not a child is on a trajectory to achieve their optimal, healthy development. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children be screened at least three times before their third birthday (9 months, 18 months and 24/30 months) to ensure the earliest detection of a delay, yet we know that fewer than 1 in 3 children in California receive a timely developmental screening. Help Me Grow California is leading statewide efforts to identify and address barriers to implementing screenings and to improve the consistent use of validated screening tools by healthcare providers so that all children are afforded the support they need to lead a successful life.
Help Me Grow California systems are also working to expand early identification efforts in early education and early care sites through collaboration with local Quality Rating Improvement Systems. With most delays not detected until a child reaches kindergarten, our children are clearly put in a distinct disadvantage. Interventions have the greatest impact and are less costly when provided earlier in life, specifically lowering the likelihood of special education placement as a child gets older. Building upon relationships that have been developed over time with school districts, early education and early childcare settings, Help Me Grow provides care coordination to help facilitate linkage to appropriate resources.