The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and First 5 LA today announced the launch of Help Me Grow LA (HMG LA), a community-driven effort to ensure every family that has developmental concerns about their child receives guidance and support. Help Me Grow will also help families navigate what can be a fragmented and challenging network of existing services, working with local programs to ensure that children are connected to services as early as possible — when it can help the most.
“We are truly grateful to our family and community partners for coming together to bring the Help Me Grow National model to Los Angeles County and ensure families have what they need to support their child’s developmental health,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, Director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. “Help Me Grow LA facilitates access to services and programs available in our community for families by equipping both those providers who interact with young children and parents/caregivers with the tools they need to track and support each child’s developmental progress. We are excited to be part of this collaborative effort and thrilled with the initial positive response we received from our partners during the HMG LA pilot phase.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, 1 in 6 children ages 3-17 have one or more developmental delays and disabilities. Children with developmental concerns may not be connected early enough, or at all, to appropriate services and supports. These services include timely developmental screening; assessment and diagnosis of developmental delays and disabilities; and early intervention supports and services. A survey by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research showed that children of color have lower rates of access to both screening and early intervention services compared to white children. Furthermore, families in L.A. County are impacted by inequities that exist in access to early screenings, connections to intervention services and quality of services.
“Help Me Grow LA centers on the family experience to ease the often frustrating and challenging journey brought on by systemic barriers and complex referral systems,” said Tara Ficek, Director of Health Systems, First 5 LA. “All families in L.A. County should have access to early identification and intervention services that are coordinated, connected, responsive and available in multiple languages to meet the unique needs of L.A. County’s diverse communities. Together with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, we remain committed to working alongside families, partners and community organizations to further advance Help Me Grow LA to ensure every child receives critical supports and resources to benefit their lifelong growth and development.”
Families and providers can connect with HMG LA through a call center (833-903-3972) staffed by a team of trained resource liaisons who assist families them with navigating the County’s complex system of care. The call center is available Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. HMG LA also has an online hub (HelpMeGrowLA.org) that offers information and resources about infant and young child developmental milestones, screenings, and community services. Parents, caregivers, early learning, health and early intervention providers can contact the call center or submit an online contact form on the website to be connected to a resource liaison.
In addition, HMG LA is working with local community partners, and health plans to make sure all children are screened for developmental concerns in a timely manner, according to a schedule recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Key community partnerships, include:
- L.A. Care Health Plan partnership aims to increase the number of developmental screenings and referral pathways in Los Angeles County.
- HMG LA Pathways are seven community collaboratives whose goal is to strengthen and expand referral pathways to better connect families to services and supports. The lead agencies are: Child Care Resource Center; Children’s Bureau of Southern California; Heluna Health/Eastern Los Angeles Family Resource Center; South Central Los Angeles Regional Center, Westside Regional Center; San Gabriel Pomona Regional Center; and the City of Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services.
HMG LA is advised by a Community & Family Engagement Council comprised of parents, caregivers, and community advocates in L.A. County who are dedicated to ensuring that early childhood services and resources meet the needs of families with children who have development concerns; and a Systems Synergy Council of leaders in the early identification and intervention field who work to promote and foster adoption of HMG LA within their organization.
For more information, visit HelpMeGrowLA.org.