The Help Me Grow® (HMG) National Forum provides an opportunity for HMG affiliates from across the country to come together to share their work, network, and learn from others, including key experts in the field of early childhood. Approaching the Forum this year, I recognize that we find ourselves at a critical milestone in HMG history. Twenty years ago, HMG first served children and families in the form of a small pilot program in Hartford, Connecticut developed by the Help Me Grow National Center’s founding director, Paul Dworkin, MD. In 2017, HMG has reached children and families in more than 50 systems across 28 states, collectively advancing the early detection of developmental and behavioral concerns, while also referring and linking children to community-based programs and services to enhance developmental promotion across the country. It is an incredible accomplishment and the lessons we have learned over the past 20 years continue to guide our work.
Similar to previous Forum’s, this year’s Forum will offer significant capacity to promote peer learning, engage high-level stakeholders, and demonstrate the critical importance of HMG to a wide audience; a true testament to the evolution of the HMG model and the growth of the affiliate network’s size, recognition and impact. I am particularly enthusiastic about a number of Forum offerings, including the diversity and quality of work represented across the 14 breakout sessions being led by HMG affiliates and key partners. Two panel discussions, led by experts from the field and from four of our HMG systems, will effectively bridge important concepts that drive our system building work. Our key note speaker, David Peter Stroh, of Bridgeway Partners, will undoubtedly challenge the ways we think about comprehensive systems change. And a newly introduced Innovation Challenge promises to be an energetic space in which to think creatively about the ways we can enhance our HMG systems to better serve young children and families.
As we kick off the Forum, I am mindful of the significant amount of effort this Forum takes on the part of our host state, Minnesota. I am appreciative of their time and dedication to help plan what promises to be one of our best Forums yet. I am similarly appreciative of the efforts of our Forum Planning Committee, affiliates and partners who contributed such strong content to the Forum, and to our National Center team for their hard work in pulling all of this together.
Kimberly Martini-Carvell is the executive director of the Help Me Grow National Center which is a program of Connecticut Children’s Office for Community Child Health.