November 10, 2022
The Maine Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Child and Family Services (OCFS) announced today the launch of Help Me Grow Maine, an initiative to connect Maine families to services and resources that help young children grow up healthy and thriving.
OCFS has partnered with 211 Maine to make Maine the 29th state to join the national Help Me Grow network. Initiated by the Department and supported with the passage of sponsored by Senate President Troy Jackson, the free service for children up to eight years of age and their families aims to improve access to early developmental screening, diagnostic, and treatment services and referrals to early intervention services. Any parent, including those expecting a child, caregiver, or child health provider can call or email 211 and the Help Me Grow team will listen and link them to services addressing a broad range of needs, including health care, quality early learning experiences, and healthy nutrition. Help Me Grow Maine also provides follow-up support to help ensure successful connections to services.
“The earliest years of a child’s life are critical to building a strong foundation that helps them reach their full potential,” said DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew and OCFS Director Todd Landry. “We encourage parents, caregivers and providers to contact Help Me Grow Maine for free help accessing resources in their communities. By nurturing young children’s development today, we promote healthier and more prosperous communities tomorrow.”
“As parents, we want to give our children the strongest start possible to a happy, healthy and successful life. By expanding access to early screening and intervention services, we can support parents as they raise the next generation of Maine workers and leaders,” said Senate President Troy Jackson. “I’m grateful to the parents, experts and advocates who brought this idea forward and encouraged me to sponsor the new law.”
“Help Me Grow Maine adds an invaluable service to children, families, and providers whose shared aim is the healthy development of each individual child,” said Dr. Laura Blaisdell, president of the Maine Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. “Help Me Grow can help families to navigate the complex world of support services, communicate about the challenges and successes of that navigation and do so regardless of insurance or diagnosis. The Maine AAP strongly supports the implementation of Help Me Grow in Maine!”
According to the 2020 Maine Child Health Needs and Capacity Assessment (PDF), 2 out of 3 Maine children aged 9 months to 3 years have not received a developmental screening, and almost 1 in 4 Maine children has a special health care need. By monitoring developmental milestones and using regular screenings to assess development, parents and health providers can identify any issues early. Help Me Grow Maine works with families to connect them to early intervention professionals for further assessment and provides free online developmental screening tools on its website.
Over the long term, Help Me Grow Maine will also improve the system for child development services by assessing and identifying current gaps, strengthening ongoing collaboration with stakeholders across the state, and conducting data collection and evaluation.
For more about Help Me Grow Maine, visit the OCFS website.