A child development program that helps children under five is getting a big gift from the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation. Help Me Grow Western New York is getting $1.8 million dollars to continue its efforts to help families with kids under the age of five.
The program provides families with young kids access to resources related to educational, recreational and health needs. Director Lynn Pullano says the grant will aid their efforts to help children at risk for developmental delays, disabilities and social-emotional problems.
“That money will be used to enhance the capacity of service organizations that work with families and young children in the communities, and it will also enable us to reach more than 26,000 additional families in Erie and Niagara counties that are currently not being served,” Pullano said. “We have a total in Western New York of almost 100,000 children aged zero to five, so this will help us expand our reach to all of those children and all of their families in the community.”
Pullano says the goal of Help Me Grow is to make sure families and professional who work with young children have the information and resources needed to support optimal development. A 2014 Harvard University study found that nearly 90 percent of a child’s brain development occurs before age five.
“We’re looking at additional capacity increased in terms of technology, being able to connect partners across systems of care,” Pullano said. “Working with healthcare partners, working with school districts and such so that we can connect data, connect information about children, and actually be able to refer to one another so that families are at the center of what we do.”
The three-year grant is being managed by Niagara University, a key partner with Help Me Grow Western New York.