Early Childhood Development

EARLY CHILDHOOD SERVICE SYSTEMS: The series of studies, evaluation, and technical assistance work described below focus on early childhood systems of care in Connecticut and in other states and a program model that connects children with developmental or behavioral problems and their families to community-based services.

2010 to 2013: Help Me Grow, National Technical Assistance Center, CT Children’s Medical Center, Kellogg Foundation.

Provide technical support and consultation as needed for building evaluation capacity (data collection, monitoring, reporting) and designing research studies within Help Me Grow (HMG) National Technical Assistance Center and within and across HMG replication sites (see below projects for description of HMG model).

In collaboration with affiliates, conduct a research study that will 1) help states, private donors, policy makers, child health care providers, and partner organizations to better understand how HMG systems support families and; 2) add new information to the resilience-based approach, specifically inform prevention and intervention efforts using a protective factor framework.

2008-2010: Project Evaluation and Technical Assistance. Help Me Grow National Replication Project, CT Children’s Medical Center, Commonwealth Foundation.

A process evaluation was conducted to document and analyze the replication of the Help Me Grow model first developed in the state of Connecticut in 2002 (Dworkin & Bogin, 2006; Dworkin & Honigfeld, 2009). The model promotes the early detection of young children at risk for adverse developmental and behavioral outcomes by placing health services within a broader system with other sectors and linking children and their families to community-based programs and services through a single point of entry. Information on project implementation in the five replication sites was gathered through individual interviews with the technical assistance (TA) team, focus group discussions with project leaders, and progress reports and other related written material completed by the project liaisons. See evaluation report:Process Evaluation: Help Me Grow Replication Project.”

 2009-2010: Help Me Grow Orange County 2009 Annual Evaluation Report, Help Me Grow, Orange County, University of California.

 Help Me Grow Orange County (HMG-OC), a model developed in Connecticut and replicated in Orange County, California since 2005, is a comprehensive, coordinated system designed to assist child health care providers, other professionals, and families in improving developmental outcomes for children, birth through five. Core components of the system include a centralized call center staffed by care coordinators who assist families and professionals in connecting children to appropriate programs and services, community outreach and networking to facilitate access to and collaboration among professionals, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies, education and training for pediatric and child care providers, and training on developmental screening and monitoring using the Ages & Stages Questionnaire. 

Results-Based Accountability (RBA, Freidman, 2005) provides a framework for the analysis: Analysis shows change in trends over the first 3 years of the program’s operation (January 2007 through September 2009). Performance measures are organized according to the following: “How much did Help Me Grow do?” (i.e., utilization of the program and related data), “How well is Help Me Grow doing?”  (i.e., family referrals for services and community outreach efforts), and “Is anyone better off as a result of utilizing Help Me Grow?” (i.e., final disposition of cases and outcomes). In addition, qualitative analyses of individual case notes and other data collected by care coordinators were conducted by the research team.  See report: “Help Me Grow Orange County 2009 Annual Evaluation Report”

2007-2008: Help Me Grow Hard to Reach Project, Connecticut Children’s Trust Fund, Kellogg Foundation

Evaluation of a pilot project designed to build on the Help Me Grow and Health Outreach for Medical Equality (HOME) models. The primary goal of the project was to connect hard-to-reach children and families living in the neighborhoods of the North-end of Hartford, CT to health care and community-based services as needed.

Interviews, on-site observations, and quantitative data analyses were used to assess: 1) progress and issues related to start-up and implementation, 2) project activities and outcomes including family service needs, referrals, and results, 3) the extent to which program goals were achieved, 4) penetration of the services within the community, and 5) families response to services. See report on Help Me Grow ‘Hard to Reach’ Project, provided to W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

2002 to Present: Annual Outcome Evaluation of the Help Me Grow Program, CT Children’s Trust Fund, Department of Social Services

 The CT Help Me Grow statewide system is designed to identify children at-risk for poor developmental outcomes as early as possible and connect them to community resources and local programs. Since the inception of CT Help Me Grow in 2002, thousands of parents in Connecticut needing help with their child have called Child Development Infoline/Help Me Grow with questions about a developmental or behavioral problem. The phone is answered by one of six care coordinators who have a broad knowledge base of child development issues, available resources and services in Connecticut, agency and professional roles, and where to find information. Also since 2002, Help Me Grow staff have been providing trainings on developmental screening and monitoring to health care providers and other professionals in child care and social services. In addition, these community development liaisons bring professionals together from a wide range of agencies through “Network Breakfasts” in order to share information, widen connections, and provide each other support.

Connecticut General Assembly and Results-Based Accountability: In accordance with Connecticut’s General Assembly Appropriation Committee, results-based accountability (RBA, Freidman, 2005) provides a framework for analysis; that is, data – or indicators of performance and results – are presented to show where the program has been and a forecast of where the program is going. Data show trends over time. Performance measures are organized according to the following: 1) “How much did Help Me Grow do?” (i.e., utilization of the program and related data including information on where callers reside, presenting issues and program service needs, and rates of calls per case ); 2) “How well is Help Me Grow doing?”  (i.e., family referrals for services and community outreach efforts to both pediatricians and community support programs); and 3) “Is anyone better off as a result of utilizing Help Me Grow?” (i.e., outcomes or rate of connection to services, and final disposition of cases).

Analysis of data by the “Five Connecticuts:” While Connecticut is a prosperous state with the highest per capita income in the country, it also has areas throughout the state with very high concentrations of low-income populations. Because income and wealth in Connecticut is proportionately unequal, and because children living in poverty are at increased risk for developmental and behavioral problems, we compare utilization and outcomes of the program between five distinct Connecticut town groups: Wealthy CT, Suburban CT, Rural CT, Urban Periphery CT, and Urban Core CT (see The Changing Demographics of Connecticut-1990-2000, Center for Population Research, University of Connecticut, 2004).

 

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