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Help Me Grow


Research Team


Principal Investigator: Lorey Wheeler

Co-Principal Investigators: Kristen Derr

Funding Information

Funding Agency: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Subcontract from: Children's Hospital and Medical Center

Award Date: Sep 1, 2019

End Date: Apr 29, 2023


This project is funded by a subcontract from Children's Hospital and Medical Center of Omaha.

Help Me Grow is a system model that utilizes and builds on existing resources to develop and enhance a comprehensive approach to early childhood system-building in any given community. Successful implementation of the Help Me Grow model requires communities to identify existing resources, think creatively about how to make the most of existing opportunities, and build a coalition to work collaboratively toward a shared agenda. 

Lancaster County’s young children (birth to 8) make up 12% of the population and more than half (52.8%) of children under 18. Although the majority of Lancaster County children have all their parents in the workforce, child poverty still persists with 20.4% of 0-8-year-olds living below the poverty line and 44.1 living in low-income families.

The implementation stage of this project includes development of an evaluation framework, including benchmarks and outcome targets, for the Help Me Grow project.

The Help Me Grow Nebraska initiative launched in 2019 after assessments of Lincoln and Lancaster County’s early childhood health care system revealed weak parent and family supports, and gaps in mental health services. In response, community stakeholders crafted a systems framework targeting those issues and are developing a centralized access point (CAP) that provides coordinated referrals to early childhood services in the area.

The CAP will enable users to call the United Way of the Midlands’ existing 211 Helpline, which connects children and their families to various health care services and other community-based supports. A website is also under development.

Early Childhood Education and Development

Researchers are collaborating with health care providers, state and county agencies, and various local organizations to build a more streamlined, equitable health system for Nebraska families and their children.
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