Start: January 2019

Funder: Help Me Grow National Center

Early universal surveillance and screening can benefit children at risk of not reaching developmental milestones, achieving kindergarten readiness, and/or developing strong social and emotional health, all of which can impact long-term success throughout school and later in life. The Help Me Grow National Center supports communities across the country in promoting the early identification of developmental and behavioral concerns for at-risk children — a population that too often goes undiagnosed and untreated. The Help Me Grow model includes: (1) a system model structured around a centralized access point for information, support, and referrals; (2) outreach to health care providers to support early detection for signs of developmental or emotional challenges; (3) family and community outreach to support networking and engagement activities; and (4) data analysis to further system improvements.

The Center for Health Care Strategies is working with Help Me Grow to develop a framework and a return on investment (ROI) tool for assessing these strategies, including the impact of the model in specific communities. The assessment tool will analyze the costs and benefits of the Help Me Grow approach, including savings and cost avoidance in the short- and long-term, as well as measurements of return garnered from cross-sector collaboration.

Development of this assessment tool may have implications for additional ROI work in the larger early childhood field. While there are ample data available showing the long-term impacts of early identification and intervention for young children, these outcomes are often realized years, if not decades, later. But, with the right referral and early intervention for young children and their families, positive results can begin to show much earlier, such as through increased kindergarten readiness, or increased access to high quality child care, which may support parents in addressing their own needs and potentially reduce child welfare involvement.

This work is supported by the Help Me Grow National Center, based at the Connecticut Children’s Office for Community Child Health, and is part of a larger initiative made possible by The JPB Foundation.