With funding from Escambia Children’s Trust, The Arc Gateway implements new “Help Me Grow” initiative.
The Arc Gateway, a local non-profit organization providing empowering opportunities to those with intellectual and developmental disabilities, announces the launch of its new initiative, Help Me Grow (HMG).
The Arc Gateway is now an affiliate of this integrated national program, which promotes early identification of developmental, behavioral and educational challenges in children. HMG links parents and caregivers with community-based services and resources, all at no cost. The Arc Gateway was selected recently as the recipient of a $1.3 million grant from the Escambia Children’s Trust to implement a HMG program for Escambia County and to address local gaps in services for this population.
“With this special funding, we will further our pediatric programs and reach a greater number of underserved children in our community,” says Missy Rogers, chief executive officer of The Arc Gateway. “The long-term impact these services have is tremendous, especially when the need is identified at a young age, when interventions build a strong foundation for learning, growing and thriving across a lifetime.”
Key components of HMG include:
- No Cost to Parents and Caregivers: The Arc Gateway is committed to eliminating any financial barriers that might hinder families from accessing essential services. HMG offers all its services and resources entirely free of charge, ensuring that every child has an equal opportunity to reach their full potential.
- Early Identification: HMG provides parents and caregivers with access to a user-friendly screening tool that assesses children’s developmental milestones. By identifying potential concerns at an early stage, families can take proactive measures to address any issues promptly.
- Access to Community-Based Services: The program serves as a comprehensive resource hub, offering families personalized referrals to an extensive network of community-based services and support. This network includes medical professionals, therapists, educators, and specialized programs tailored to the unique needs of each child.
“Our community of early education partners have recognized for years the value of the Help Me Grow model. While funding has been unavailable for our area, the Escambia Children’s Trust is now making this possible for the children of our community,” explains MaryAnn Bickerstaff, The Arc Gateway’s children’s services director.
“Help Me Grow has a 94% success rate of connecting children and families to needed services. The grant from the Escambia Children’s Trust is a meaningful investment that will prepare more children for kindergarten, which in turn will have an exponential impact on their future success.”
The funding from Escambia Children’s Trust also allows for an expansion of services over and above those outlined in the traditional HMG model – services to address the needs of children with developmental delays who may not meet criteria for other state and federally-funded programs. These additional program components encompass
- Hiring Infant and Toddler Developmental Specialists who will provide consultative services and interventions through home visits, play groups and childcare settings,
- Recruiting and retaining additional healthcare providers in order to address the long wait for services in our community,
- Establishing an Autism Diagnostic Clinic focused on providing a timely evaluation and diagnosis for children aged 3 and under.
“The foundational component of the autism clinic is the collaboration between the occupational and speech language pathologists at The Arc Gateway and our local pediatricians,” says Bickerstaff.
“Together, we will offer comprehensive evaluation, diagnosis and strategies for parents and caregivers to implement with their child immediately. A care coordinator from our team will assist with necessary referrals and follow-up appointments, so there is a robust continuum of care for the child and support for the family.”
The Arc Gateway encourages collaboration with community partners, healthcare providers, and educators to ensure the seamless delivery of early intervention services. To this end, the grant is also underwriting child and family resources through other local agencies like Parent University and Children’s Home Society.
By uniting efforts, The Arc Gateway believes that together, we can build a stronger, healthier, and more inclusive community for all children.
For more information about The Arc Gateway and its early intervention programs, please visit www.arc-gateway.org or call MaryAnn Bickerstaff at (850) 434-7755.