The Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation has awarded Help Me Grow Western New York, a program first launched by the Health Foundation for Western and Central New York, a $1.8 million three-year grant to help provide universal access to child development information and resources to the families of all 73,000 children under age 6 in Erie and Niagara counties.
Help Me Grow Western New York is a free resource connecting families in Erie and Niagara counties to community resources and child development information.
The program offers families:
- Information on child development and parenting.
- Referrals to community resources through the Western New York 2-1-1 line, based on a comprehensive database of early intervention agencies, family therapy, literacy support, mentoring, tutoring, parenting classes, recreational activities and more.
- Questionnaires to help parents discover their child’s strengths and uncover any potential areas of concern, using the same Ages and Stages Questionnaire used by many health care providers to assess motor skills, communication, problem solving, and social-emotional skills in children up to age 5½.
Based on a national model with affiliates in 28 states, the Health Foundation launched Help Me Grow in western New York as a pilot project in 2008 with six pediatric primary care practices conducting developmental screenings of children from birth through age five.
Today, with more than 40 partner agencies, HMGWNY is a collaborative, cross-sector system that fosters the physical and social-emotional health of children ages 0-5 through early detection, intervention and linkage to services.
“This collaboration has been about having the right people come together at the right time to work together for a greater purpose – to make a difference in the lives of children and families,” Joseph J. Cozzo, chair of the Health Foundation Board of Trustees, said. “On behalf of the work begun by the Health Foundation, we thank all of our collaborators and we thank the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation. What the Ralph C. Wilson Foundation Jr. has done with this grant will have an impact for years to come.”
Support from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation will position HMGWNY to provide universal access to child development information and resources to the families of all 73,000 children under age 6 in Erie and Niagara counties in an efficient, cost-effective way. HMGWNY will also work to expand its reach even further to reach an additional 26,000 children in the remaining six counties of western New York within the next five years.
“We’ve heard a lot about making America great lately. The fact is that America will only be great if we make our children great, if we make them a priority,” Lynn Pullano, director of HMGWNY, said. “We make our children great by nurturing the unique potential each one has, one child at a time.”
To learn more about Help Me Grow WNY, please visit www.helpmegrowny.org.