Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A Little Insight From HMG's Founder

Help Me Grow Utah has spent months getting ready for this week's Help Me Grow National Forum, and it's fantastic to see the planning pay off as the forum begins today!

However, we got a little treat last night before all the festivities kicked into high gear. Help Me Grow founder, Dr. Paul Dworkin (see right), Gave a spectacular presentation about the history and purpose of Help Me Grow, reminding all of us of what we're working for.
Dr. Dworkin told the Help Me Grow story by starting at the beginning, reminding everyone that the program was a product of the 90's (the decade of the brain). This was because child development was beginning to enter the national dialogue in a way it never had before. It set the stage for the Help Me Grow system to launch in 1998 and expand across the country. Help Me Grow is currently active in 18 affiliates. (There are hints we might become 21 soon!)

Dr. Dworkin transitioned from talking about Help Me Grow's history to discussing key concepts in child development. He connected those concepts to organizational practices. For example, one key concept is that there are critical periods within development that should occur in sequential order and determine later outcomes. This relates to how organizations focus their resources to fit developmental trajectories, meaning that organizations aren't just serving developmentally delayed individuals, but at-risk individuals as well. This leads to the understanding that society needs a "comprehensive, community-wide approach" to give every child a chance at reaching his or her optimal development.

Then, Dr. Dworkin reconnected to Help Me Grow's history by pointing out that the system was designed to provide this community-wide interdisciplinary approach through four major platforms:

  • A centralized telephone access point (Dial 2-1-1; ask for Help Me Grow.)
  • Community and family outreach (Check out one of our family events sometime!)
  • Child health provider outreach (We'll work with health care providers to keep everyone in the loop of a child's health.)
  • Data collection and analysis (This is one of Help Me Grow Utah's strong points.)

These four platforms serve as connecting points, linking families and providers to cross-sector resources, information, and each other. The Help Me Grow system has evolved quite a bit since 1998; however, those key components remain the same.

Help Me Grow Utah sends a special thanks to Children with Special Health Care Needs for hosting the presentation, specifically MykioSaracino and Dr. Harper Randall. It also thanks Jonell Murray for her help in making the presentation a CME event.

This presentation was the perfect way to kick of an already exciting week. We're off to take a seat at the opening session, but stay tuned, we'll be sure to post again tomorrow with even more updates!

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