Website helps young families connect to services
Published 5:48 pm Friday, August 27, 2021
Pregnant and parenting families with children from birth to 8 years of age now have a new tool to connect to services in their local communities that support healthy child development and family well-being.
Help Me Connect is a website designed to help Minnesota’s families navigate local community, county, and state resources. Families and those that support families, such as preschool teachers, child care providers, and pediatricians, can use Help Me Connect to find services such as:
- Healthy development and screening
- Developmental and behavior concerns
- Disability services and resources
- Early learning and child care
- Family well-being and mental health
- Tribal and American Indian resources
- Dental care
- Basic needs
- Legal services
- Peacetime emergency resources
“We know that families look for resources in lots of places. Help Me Connect fills a gap by putting resources in a central location and removing some of that burden from the family,” said Erin Bailey, assistant commissioner of the Governor’s Children’s Cabinet. “Whether a family is with their doctor for a checkup or meeting with a Head Start teacher, there is a tool to identify services in the community.”
Help Me Connect was developed based on parent and community provider feedback. Beginning in 2012, a team of early childhood partners — including state staff, tribal liaisons, and health care and education providers — explored how to expand Help Me Grow, which is an informational and referral website for parents and providers who have developmental concerns about children from birth to 5 years of age. Since then, the state has worked with community partners and care providers to create an expanded website that connects families to the vast array of early childhood and family well-being resources.
“Access to Help Me Connect has given me such a boost staying current with the ever-evolving constellation of local resources and services,” said Heather Miller, a parent child health nurse at Sawtooth Mountain Clinic in Grand Marais. “It’s a relief to remember we can turn to Help Me Connect to tap into our community’s strengths we didn’t yet know were there.”
“When a family visits their doctor, they frequently bring more than their health questions to the table,” said Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm. “With Help Me Connect, clinicians, and the family can sit and learn more about the many questions that often arise around disability services, housing, child care assistance, or job training, or other topics that impact a child’s health.”
Care providers and families can access Help Me Connect by visiting HelpMeConnectMN.org.
Help Me Connect was created in partnership with the Minnesota Departments of Education, Health, and Human Services, along with the Governor’s Children’s Cabinet. It is one of several activities funded by the federal Preschool Development Grant, a $26.7 million grant from the U. S. Department Health and Human Services designed to remove barriers so families with young children can access life-changing early childhood programs.
“Help Me Connect has been the work of many for years across departments of health, education and human services,” said Bobbie Burnham, assistant commissioner at the Department of Education. “We are grateful for the community partnerships and leadership to launch the site.”
Information on the Preschool Development Grant can be found on the Minnesota Department of Education’s website, at Preschool Development Grant.