Recognizing the importance of innovation in promoting children’s healthy development, the Help Me Grow® National Center (National Center) and Connecticut Children’s Advancing Kids Innovation Program (AKIP) partnered to organize and implement the inaugural 10K Innovation Challenge at the 2017 Help Me Grow National Forum.
We invited the 28 Help Me Grow affiliates around the country to submit ideas, models or approaches that could potentially be replicated by other affiliates in the Help Me Grow network. From the proposals submitted, a peer committee chose four finalists to receive technical assistance from AKIP in defining and describing their innovation to a broader audience. The finalists then pitched their ideas to a panel of experts and participants at the forum, held in St. Paul, Minnesota. After a vote, Help Me Grow Orange County, California was declared the winner, receiving a $10,000 award from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to support the continued growth and development of their innovation, with the goal of scaling it from a local success story to one impacting children and families across the entire Help Me Grow affiliate network.
The Help Me Grow Orange County innovation effectively utilizes collaboration, linked technology, and the Help Me Grow system infrastructure to improve developmental screening rates for children in family child care settings. Currently, young children cared for in such settings do not experience developmental screening rates equivalent to children in center-based settings. As a result, they are typically not getting connected to services that can help overcome any challenges they face. In the Help Me Grow Orange County innovation, developmental screening questionnaires are automatically scored using an online system and results are automatically imported into the Help Me Grow Orange County database used for intake, referrals and care coordination. All screening results are shared with families and primary pediatric care providers. Children who are determined to be in the at-risk or monitoring categories receive follow-up from Help Me Grow staff.
All of the finalists presented innovations that are making an impressive impact in their local communities. We are looking forward to opportunities to work with Help Me Grow Orange County to further refine and spread their idea throughout our Help Me Grow national network. We also want to encourage all Help Me Grow affiliates to continue cultivating promising innovations that will help all children thrive.
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.