Help Me Grow is a local resource for parents of children who need a helping hand meeting developmental milestones. The much-needed service is available at no cost.
The program is made up of two components: the early intervention program for children with disabilities, developmental delays and medical conditions which cause developmental deficiencies and the home-visiting support program for expecting mothers and new parents of a child under six months old, said Deborah Armstead, central intake specialist at Help Me Grow’s Lucas County office.
“This is very family-focused and family-friendly,” Armstead said.
The program, offered through the Ohio Department of Health, is available in every Ohio county. About 85 percent of participating Lucas County families are referred by primary care physicians, according to Armstead. Referrals also come from social service agencies, children’s services and the health department.
Screenings cover vision, hearing, dental, speech and language skills, gross and fine motor skills, physical growth, and social and emotional behavior. Evaluations are then done to determine the child’s specific needs to match the child with needed services.
“We respect what the family wants. If they’re not ready to enroll, we respect that. If there’s an issue that merits need they usually do call us back,” Armstead said.
Children and their families enrolled in the program receive free in-home visits and early intervention from birth to age 3. A specialist works with the family until the child overcomes the deficit or ages out of the program, Armstead said. Those children that still need services are then transitioned to the early childhood program in their school district.
Guiding the family
Kristin Staton, a licensed social worker and early intervention service coordinator at the Family & Child Abuse Prevention Center, said the program helps guide the family to services available for their child and assures that they’re happy with those choices.
“We provide coaching and strategies to use within their daily routines to help obtain what they’re looking for, for example getting a two-year-old to say that they’re hungry,” Staton said of children who may not be reaching their verbal milestones. Some of the best ways to do that are to talk about the things you see and do and read books to the child.
For children not meeting physical milestones there are tricks that can be used to help them build strength and muscle tone, Staton said, such as placing objects slightly out of their reach so that the child has to work to get it.
“Best practice is to use toys already in the home so they don’t have to buy anything” Staton said, adding that they will provide some items in situations where it is really needed.
Sessions can be weekly or monthly, as long as needs are being met.
Help Me Grow’s website (helpmegrow.ohio.gov)provides webinars, as well as useful links and resources, including a developmental guide for parents to see what their child may be capable of by a certain age. There are also tips on pregnancy, child safety, breastfeeding, immunizations, sleep, potty training and more.
Transition Training: Preparing for the next stage
The Ohio Coalition for the Education of Children with Disabilities (OCECD) is hosting a free parent training to prepare parents and students for the move from school to adulthood. Parents gain an understanding of the importance of transition planning for youth with special needs. Discussions focus on the requirements under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 for writing a transition plan, when the process should begin and timelines. The training is Tuesday, March 21 from 6-8pm at the Lucas County Board of Developmental Disabilities. Call 419-214-3066 for more information or to register for the free training.
Want to get your child assessed?
Help Me Grow Lucas County:
Help Me Grow Northwest Ohio*:
*serves Defiance, Fulton, Henry
and Williams counites