By PRISCILLA KADOLPH

Staff writer

Help Me Grow is a two part program that is specifically designed to help children from birth to three years old.

One part of Help Me Grow is Home Visits. The other part is Early Intervention.

Home Visits is a program geared toward providing support and education to families to prepare them for the birth of their child, and to care for themselves and their children.

In order to be eligible for Help Me Grow Home Visits a family must receive Women, Infant and Children (WIC) benefits and/or receive Medicaid benefits. A family also must be assessed by a service coordinator and meet program requirements in order to be enrolled in the program.

During home visits a service coordinator works with the families by coordinating and referring to community resources, monitoring the development of the child, ensuring the home is safe and providing information to have a safe home, utilizing interactive and developmental activities, providing access to age appropriate toys, watch for neglect and abuse and educate about mental illness.

The first step after acceptance to the program is for the service coordinator and family to establish a Family Plan. It is designed for the family to establish goals and create ways to accomplish those goals. The Family Plan is revisited and revised every six months.

In home visits are scheduled to accommodate the family’s schedule and the goals established from the Family Plan. Visits can happen weekly, twice a month or what works best for the family.

Early Intervention (Part C) is the other part of Help Me Grow. Early Intervention helps children with developmental delays from birth to three years old. On the child’s third birthday he/she graduates from the program.

To determine if there is a delay the child must have a note from the doctor and complete an evaluation and assessment that is done by a service coordinator. During the initial process a family assessment is done as well so that the service coordinator learns the family dynamics, the family’s needs and to gather as much information to maximize services for the child.

An Individualized Family Service Plan is written next. It is renewed every six months to a year. This plan specifically states the services the child requires, such as physical, occupational, or speech therapy. The team that writes the plan also includes the service coordinator and a developmental specialist.

Once the child is in the Early Intervention program they will remain in it until they are of graduation age.

Both programs are integral to the community. They offer support and resources to families that either have a child with a delay or developmental disability or that need help accessing resources.

The staff members of Help Me Grow are impressed with each provider they work with. They find each provider to be knowledgable and professional.

Due to the reduction in funding from the Ohio Department of Health and the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities, Help Me Grow has been reduced to four days per week to service two programs.

The United Way graciously granted the programs to ensure that they function efficiently and to effectively continue to serve Paulding County.