Help Me Grow Onondaga Launches New Website, Supports Early Childhood Development During Pandemic and Beyond

Syracuse, NY Help Me Grow Onondaga (HMG Onondaga) announced today the launch of its new website, www.helpmegrowny.org. The site, which has undergone a complete overhaul, is home to New York State’s four Help Me Grow communities, including Onondaga County, Western New York, Rochester and Long Island.

Created with the user experience in mind, the new site offers a fresh design with improved navigation and functionality while maintaining the original site’s wealth of information, resources and supports related to early childhood development. Key features include access to free child development questionnaires (Ages & Stages Questionnaires®), tips and activity sheets for parents that support early learning, an abundance of resources that address common questions parents and providers may have about child development, and a dedicated regional page for each Help Me Grow community to share news and updates.

“We’re excited to unveil our new website and to give the community easier access to the information and resources needed to support early childhood development,” said HMG Onondaga Program Director Summer Merrick. “This new website will provide parents and caregivers the tools to track their child’s development and to get connected to supports that will promote optimal growth and learning.”

The program’s new and improved website is just one component of its efforts to support parents and caregivers during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

“Early childhood development has not paused during this pandemic, and parents need support, education and connection now more than ever,” Early Childhood Alliance Director Laurie Black stated. “Help Me Grow is working vigilantly to connect parents with the resources and services they need most during these unprecedented times and to ensure that early childhood development continues uninterrupted at home.”

HMG Onondaga collaborates with the 2-1-1 resource and referral call line to answer questions about how children grow and complete referrals to community agencies. According to Black, HMG Onondaga has also developed a rapid response system with its County counterparts that allows it to address the immediate basic needs of families that aren’t able to leave their homes or get to resources. When a parent or caregiver calls 2-1-1 and asks for Help Me Grow, Merrick assesses their needs and immediately helps connect them to community supports.

HMG Onondaga is also using the unusual circumstances precipitated by the pandemic as an opportunity to encourage parents to “check-in” on their child’s health and development by completing a free child development questionnaire. HMG Onondaga utilizes the Ages & Stages Questionnaires® (ASQ®-3), a set of questionnaires that parents complete online to provide a quick look at how children are doing in five important developmental areas: communication, gross motor, fine motor, problem-solving, and personal-social. The ASQ®-3 can help identify a child’s strengths, as well as any areas where a child may need support.  Child development questionnaires can be easily accessed for free on the program’s new website. Once a questionnaire has been completed, Merrick will share the results with the parent or caregiver and help connect them with resources to support their child’s development, if necessary.

“Parents are an active partner in their child’s early learning and development,” Merrick noted. “By completing ASQ® questionnaires, parents are making sure their child is off to the best possible start.”

Since 2011, four communities in New York State have begun implementing the national, evidence-based Help Me Grow model to advance the health, well-being, and success of children, prenatally through age five. Help Me Grow is currently in over 100 communities across thirty states. Launched in 2019, HMG Onondaga is a key strategy of the ECA’s efforts to ensure that all children are healthy, thriving and ready to succeed in school.

Who are the Participants

About Help Me Grow Onondaga – Help Me Grow Onondaga is a key strategy of the Early Childhood Alliance that focuses on supporting parents and children so that all children can grow, develop, and thrive to their full potential. Early detection and intervention are critical for optimal outcomes for children. Help Me Grow Onondaga addresses this by providing a centralized access point for information and referral, promoting surveillance and screenings, building collaboration among community programs, and educating and informing the community about child development. Parents/caregivers and providers can reach Help Me Grow by calling 2-1-1. Learn more about the Help Me Grow model in New York at www.helpmegrowny.org

About the Early Childhood Alliance – The Early Childhood Alliance (ECA) was launched in Onondaga County in 2015 and is comprised of stakeholders from all levels of the early childhood system, including health, early learning and family supports. The ECA oversees a coordinated strategy to create an integrated local system of early childhood care and family support services. Learn more about the ECA at www.ecaonondaga.org.

About Ages & Stages Questionnaires® – Ages & Stages Questionnaires® (ASQ®) provide reliable, accurate developmental and social-emotional screening for children between birth and age 6. Drawing on parents’ expert knowledge, ASQ® has been specifically designed to pinpoint developmental progress and catch delays in young children, paving the way for meaningful next steps in learning, intervention, or monitoring. Learn more about ASQ® at www.agesandstages.com.