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Help Me Grow Washington Network News

We are excited to share progress made on three of the strategic initiatives in the, Help Me Grow WA Strategic Plan.

Establish New Partnerships

Paid Family Medical Leave: The Paid Family Medical Leave (PFML)/Equity Leadership Action Initiative (ELAI) Project recently created a set of learnings and recommended targeted strategies after over a year of exploratory research, collaboration, and analysis. The project utilized Targeted Universalism as a guiding framework for the iterative process. The workgroup made up Economic Security Department (ESD), WithinReach, and Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF), interviewed 18 health care coordinators (HCCs) and partnered with Catholic Charities Serving Central Washington to host 5 family listening sessions with a total of 38 multilingual caregivers.

As a result of these learnings and recommendations, there have been steps taken to address the application process and system, as well as information and content sharing to support eligibility and application questions. In addition, there will be upcoming co-design opportunities to further integrate recommendations and address structural barriers.

To participate in future co-design process sign-up to be on the ESD Paid Leave Program listserv. 

Develop Specialized Referral Pathways

Help Me Grow Washington Childcare Referral Pathway: Child developmental screening is a mounting priority in Washington and the number of early childhood education providers trained on developmental screening and offering universal routine screening for families is increasing. In-house coordination is a sustainable option for many providers and settings; however, for those providers where capacity is limited developmental screening and follow-up may be difficult to prioritize. As such, Child Care Development Funds (CCDF) are being used to leverage Help Me Grow Washington’s robust developmental screening and navigational infrastructure with the goal of supporting Early Care and Education (ECE) providers to become developmental screening hubs. This project started in December 2023 and is expected to be ongoing. 

Beginning with leaders and providers, Help Me Grow Washington set out to listen and learn from subject matter experts on existing child development screening initiatives and support. Our intention was to deepen our understanding of the work already happening and how Help Me Grow might complement and/or fill existing service gaps. We are grateful to the many programs and organizations that have generously shared their time to help us more clearly see the current child developmental screening ecosystem of support for ECE professionals. This landscape work is ongoing, and we are committed to continuing our learning in this arena. 

Help Me Grow Washington

  • completed an in-depth analysis of the Brookes Ages & Stages (ASQ) Online software, to better understand how online access to this screening tool could be built for ECE providers statewide
  • conducted a technical feasibility study to identify possible options for ECE providers to pilot in Spring of 2024
  • built out ASQ Online to support the pilot and referral connections with Help Me Grow
  • delivered technical training participants, created instructional guides and held technical office hours

The pilot will run for 6 weeks, starting on April 29th with 10 ECE providers. During this time, providers will use ASQ Online to manage screenings in their center and connect families to Help Me Grow, as appropriate. At the end of the project, we will hold feedback sessions with each pilot participant to learn about their experiences and how we can improve our software and processes to support ECEs better. 

Plan of Safe Care (POSC): In accordance with federal legislation, Washington state has implemented the Plan of Safe Care, has aligned child welfare policies and procedures, and is supporting updates to birthing hospital practice supporting families with infants born with prenatal substance exposure. In 2019 Washington identified a two-pathway approach to offering services and resources for families experiencing perinatal substance use, the child welfare pathway, and a community-based Plan of Safe Care pathway.

In 2021, WithinReach (Help Me Grow) was contracted to administer the Plan of Safe Care community-based pathway, for families without safety concerns. In June 2023, a cross agency letter between the Washington State Healthcare Authority, the Department of Health, and The Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) was released detailing the requirement that all birthing hospitals implement the Plan of Safe Care by January 1st, 2025. The Plan of Safe Care statewide outreach, onboarding, and implementation continues to be a priority for both Help Me Grow and a number of state agencies. Following a series of listening session in November, DCYF is making updates to the referral portal, namely clarifications on "safety concerns" and qualifications for each pathway. As of April 15, 2024, 23 of the state's 58 birthing hospitals have received an updated onboarding session. To schedule an onboarding, please email katea@withinreahwa.org.

Build out Technology, Reporting, and Infrastructure:

VisionLink Project with HMG Skagit: WithinReach has partnered with Skagit Family Resource Center (FRC) to support the work that they do providing essential goods such as diapers to families with young children. This work involved creating custom forms and processes within our VisionLink system as well as training and onboarding staff. The goal of this work is twofold. The first goal is to help Skagit FRC staff manage and track their inventory and the orders so that they can more easily serve their community. The second goal is to create a simpler and more streamlined way for clients that come to the resource center to be referred to Help Me Grow and be connected to more resources that can help their family thrive. Skagit FRC and WithinReach have continued to work together to refine the processes and look for new ways to support both staff and the community.

Help Me Grow Local System Updates

Here are some exciting updates from a couple of our Local Systems!

Help Me Grow Skagit:

This spring, HMG Skagit partnered with Skagit Valley Family YMCA during their annual Healthy Kids Day to provide information about Help Me Grow Skagit and community resources for over 450 people. There were 38 community vendors sharing information and providing fun family activities like button making, tie dying shirts, coloring and more! Over 450 people participated during this free family event! See picture of some of their team setting up for the Healthy Kids Day/Help Me Grow Skagit Family Palooza event. Other exciting upcoming programs include Newborn Outreach where Help Me Grow Newborn Outreach Nurses will meet families at Skagit Valley Hospital's birth center. In addition, they will be starting "Play & Grow" weekly drop-in baby groups!

Help Me Grow Island County:

We are thrilled to share that HMG Island County is officially becoming a HMG Local System! In March they held a community-wide workshop of over 30 partners and advocates to explore, “what does it mean to bring HMG to Island County”. It was led by an outside facilitator and had over 30 partners/attendees. As a result of the workshop, the group created a the first phase purpose for its Help Me Grow system. In addition, Partners for Young Children is hiring a Coordinator. Here is the job posting, please help spread the word! The Help Me Grow Washington Network includes Local HMG Systems in Central WA (Kittitas & Yakima), Island, Skagit, and King Counties.

New staff member supporting the Help Me Grow Network and Help Me Grow Washington Statewide CAP!  

We are happy to announce the new staff member at WithinReach supporting the Help Me Grow Network and Help Me Grow Washington Statewide CAP! Azucena Salazar, Partnership Manager, Early Care and Education will focus on developing partnerships with Early Care and Education (ECE) professionals and the systems that support them seeking/accessing childcare and early learning programs. We look forward to introducing her as she onboards in the coming weeks and months! 

Resources to Share

  • Register Now for AAP Addiction Treatment in Pediatric Settings ECHO: WCAAP is recruiting healthcare professionals to be a part of the AAP Addiction Treatment in Pediatric Settings ECHO. This ECHO serves as a forum for pediatric health care professionals to increase knowledge and capacity regarding the treatment of substance use disorders in the medical home setting, with a focus on opioid use disorder. ECHO sessions will take place from noon - 1:00 p.m. PT and will begin in May and last until September. Professional credits are available. See link here to register. Please contact cmccarty@wcaap.org with any questions.

  • WithinReach’s Learning Series 2024: Pregnancy & Postpartum Support, May 1, 8, 15, 22, and 29 from noon - 1:00p.m. WithinReach is hosting a Virtual Learning Series each week in the month of May. The focus is on pregnancy and postpartum support and will spotlight topics of connection, partnership, and advocacy as we explore ideas and innovations in communities throughout Washington! Learn more and register here! Sessions in English only.  

  • Fatherhood Summit 2024: Attend this free in-person summit at The Greater Tacoma Convention Center hosted by Washington Fatherhood Council on Friday June 7th. This year’s theme is Counting Fathers Because Kids Matter. Learn More and Register Here

  • May is Maternal Mental Health Awareness month! See this memorandum from Governor Jay Inslee and consider observing in the month of May.

  • Parent Ally Internship Program: Homeward House is recruiting new candidates for their Parent Ally Internship Program. Note that the position is based in Everett and they're seeking candidates who have had a case and been through the dependency process. See this flyer for more information!

Send along ideas and resources for the Help Me Grow Washington website and future newsletters by emailing Keri Nguyen.

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