Dover – Meeting critical developmental milestones between birth to age 8 is vital to ensuring your child’s growth is on track. Delays in these milestones may be missed by families, health care providers, and even your child’s school or early child care provider. That’s why the Division of Public Health (DPH) in partnership with Delaware 2-1-1 and other state and community organizations offers the Help Me Grow program.
Help Me Grow is a comprehensive and coordinated statewide system for the early identification and referral of children at risk for developmental and behavioral challenges. The program helps children and their families find community-based programs and services to enhance the child’s behavior, learning and development.
Help Me Grow focuses on pregnant women (new and expecting parents) and all families with children birth to age 8. When you dial 2-1-1, specially trained Help Me Grow specialists will not only assist you to navigate services in your area, but also will be able to use early detection screenings to identify potential developmental delays and guide parents, educators, and providers to resources that address these concerns.
“Prevention is a key strategy in public health, and Help Me Grow is a great example of how we connect with our extensive network of valued partners to address health and developmental issues earlier in life, so that long-term outcomes will be positive and help children and families to thrive,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay.
The Help Me Grow system has served more than 7,800 Delaware children since its inception in 2012, including Wilmington resident Lena McDougale, a caregiver for her grandchildren. “Dealing with developmental delays and disabilities in my kids has been a laborious process in life, school, and home. Help Me Grow and Delaware 2-1-1 have eased the burden by giving me the appropriate services to address issues that my children are facing.”
“Sometimes families have a hard time finding programs to meet their needs in a vast network of agencies,” said Delaware 2-1-1 Director Donna Snyder White. “With one call or click, Help Me Grow/2-1-1 can help guide them to local services that can help, and we are pleased to provide that resource for families.”
Delaware 2-1-1 is a confidential help hotline service from the United Way and the Delaware Division of Public Health. Parents and caregivers can dial 2-1-1 as often as they like and calls are toll-free. Help Me Grow’s child development specialists are available 8 a.m.- 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and can also be reached by texting 302-231-1464 (1HMG).
Recently, the United States Departments of Education and Health and Human Services released a joint policy statement recognizing the Help Me Grow system as a model for other states to use when developing early-intervention programs for children from birth through age 8. The statement says that Help Me Grow helps “ensure that families have timely access to appropriate services” to identify and address a child’s developmental gaps during the formative years.
Help Me Grow was developed by Dr. Paul Dworkin of Connecticut Children’s Office for Community Child Health in 1997 and has since been implemented by 28 affiliates around the country. The Division of Public Health and its partners launched the initiative across the state in early 2012.
Help Me Grow is a partnership between the Division of Public Health, Delaware 2-1-1, and the United Way of Delaware, and collaborates with programs such as American Academy of Pediatrics-Delaware Chapter, Child Development Watch, Child Find, Nemours Children’s Health System, the Division of Prevention and Behavioral Health Services, Office of Early Learning and other key early childhood partners.
A person who is deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind or speech-disabled can call the DPH phone number above by using TTY services. Dial 7-1-1 or 800-232-5460 to type your conversation to a relay operator, who reads your conversation to a hearing person at DPH. The relay operator types the hearing person’s spoken words back to the TTY user. To learn more about TTY availability in Delaware, visit http://delawarerelay.com.
Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware’s citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations. DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables each day, have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time each day (includes TV, computer, gaming), get 1 or more hours of physical activity each day, and drink almost no sugary beverages.Related Topics: child development • Delaware 211 • DPH • Help Me Grow • USDOE • USHHS
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