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Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital has received a three-year $3 million grant from First 5 Riverside and First 5 San Bernardino to further efforts of the Help Me Grow Inland Empire (HMGIE) program, providing developmental screening to children and social services resources for their families.

With more than 366,000 children ages 0-5 across both counties, Children’s Hospital, First 5 Riverside and First 5 San Bernardino, have partnered to promote healthy development through the “Help Me Grow” approach.

“Our partnership with First 5 Riverside and First 5 San Bernardino demonstrates our combined commitment to caring for families in our vast community,” said Brett Walls, assistant vice president for ambulatory services at Children’s Hospital.

Through this program, young children have the opportunity to receive timely developmental screenings and be connected to early intervention resources.

“The first steps for children being ‘ready to learn’ in kindergarten is identifying and reducing gaps in development and addressing social needs in their family,” said Marti Baum, MD, physician champion at Children’s Health. “HMGIE is committed to all of our children achieving their full potential through the combined leadership of Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital, First 5 Riverside and First 5 San Bernardino.”

The program is developing a data system to house screenings, allowing early childhood educators and pediatricians to collaborate while working with the child and their family.

“It is with great pleasure that we partner with our local children’s hospital in furtherance of the Help Me Grow Inland Empire initiative,” said Karen Scott, executive director of First 5 San Bernardino. “Through the child-centered HMGIE, we are able to engage families and multiple sector providers to ensure the early identification and intervention of developmental delays in young children and link and provide resources that promote their optimal health and well-being so that they may thrive and succeed in school and in life.”

Although the Help Me Grow model is used in various communities nationwide, HMGIE is the first to pair developmental screenings with social determinates of health screening including economic stability, social and community context, neighborhood and environment, healthcare and education. 

“Ensuring mild to moderate delays are identified as early as possible reduces and often eliminates the long-term impacts of those delays on children’s success in school and in life,” said Barbara DuBransky, deputy director of First 5 Riverside. “Early identification also reduces future costs related to delays that go unchecked. We are fortunate in the Inland Empire to have such strong leadership in children’s healthcare provided by Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital and a robust partnership between the San Bernardino and Riverside First 5 Commissions. We look forward to taking our shared commitment to the healthy development of young children to the next level.”

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