LEGO® Community Fund U.S. Supports Developmental Assessment Initiative for Children Statewide

June 2015

HARTFORD – A $250,000 grant provided by the LEGO® Community Fund U.S. will help Connecticut Children’s Medical Center’s Office for Community Child Health institute a new standard of care for Connecticut children identified as being at-risk for developmental delays.

The LEGO Community Fund U.S. grant, which will be distributed over two years, was awarded to the Office in the fall of 2014 and will help make Mid-Level Developmental Assessment (MLDA) the standard of care for all children in the state who are identified as being at-risk through surveillance and screening but are ineligible for publicly funded intervention programs, such as Birth to Three and Preschool Special Education Programs.

Children who do not fit the eligibility criteria will be connected to services provided by the Help Me Grow® system, whose national center is based at Connecticut Children’s. Help Me Grow, which was piloted in Hartford in 1997, expanded statewide in 2002 and is now being replicated in 23 states, helps families with children at risk for developmental or behavioral problems find local support and services through a central call center.

Developmental Evaluations and the MLDA

Traditionally, children identified as at-risk for developmental delays are referred for costly, extensive evaluations to assess eligibility for early intervention services. When these evaluations identify mild to moderate concerns, children are not eligible for publicly funded services and must be re-routed to address their needs. MLDA offers efficient access to community-based programs and services for such children, while preserving the capacity of more extensive evaluations for those more likely to have developmental delays.

“Connecticut has been successful in advancing the early detection of children at risk for developmental and behavioral problems,” said Paul Dworkin, MD, executive vice president for Community Child Health at Connecticut Children’s. “Such initiatives as Help Me Grow and the training of child health providers in developmental surveillance and screening through the Educating Practices in the Community (EPIC) Program of the Child Health Development Institute (CHDI) and Connecticut Children’s have resulted in an increase in the number of children identified to be in need of further assessment to ensure their linkage to community programs and services.”

Unfortunately, the capacity of various programs that offer developmental evaluations is limited, resulting in delays in children receiving the services they need, Dr. Dworkin explained.

Enter the MLDA, which offers a brief, expedient assessment of children at risk for delays and triages them into community-based intervention services through Help Me Grow.

“Mid-Level Developmental Assessment, created by The Village for Families & Children in Hartford, is an efficient and effective approach to providing such assessment and enabling the vast majority (80 percent) of children to quickly move on to community-based programs and services,” Dr. Dworkin said. “We are so grateful to LEGO Community Fund U.S. for appreciating the potential of MLDA based on pilot studies and the many benefits to bringing this to scale throughout the state.”

“The Village is tremendously excited about this new partnership with LEGO Community Fund U.S., which will enable more young children in the state to receive developmental assessment and the services they need,” said Galo Rodriguez, president and CEO of The Village for Families & Children.

“Research has shown how critical the early years of a child’s life are for their healthy development,” Rodriguez added. “The Mid-Level Developmental Assessment provides a way to identify early on any developmental challenges or behavioral issues they may be experiencing and to connect them with services that will enable them to do well at home and in school, paving the way for healthy growth and development.”

The LEGO Community Fund U.S. Grant

Funding provided by the LEGO Community Fund U.S. will enable Connecticut Children’s Office for Community Child Health to expand the availability of MLDA for 3- to 5-year-old children throughout the state over the next two years, as well as expand the model to include children ages birth to 3 years. By the end of the second year of the grant, an estimated 1,000 children, ages three to five, and another 1,500 children, ages birth to three years, will have received a Mid-Level Developmental Assessment in Connecticut.

“We recently restructured our charitable giving organization to focus support on programs in the state of Connecticut that focus on the overall well-being and encouragement of children’s development,” said Søren Torp Laursen, president of LEGO Systems, Inc., and president of the LEGO Community Fund U.S. Board of Directors. “As longtime supporters of Connecticut Children’s Medical Center and the fantastic work they do, we are proud to support the Office for Community Child Health with one of the first grants from the new LEGO Community Fund U.S., formerly known as the LEGO Children’s Fund.”

The grant will enable the Office to train local agencies to conduct Mid-Level Developmental Assessment upon receiving referrals from the United Way’s Child Development Infoline. The funding will also allow the Office to implement a data system of continuous quality improvement that will assess the program as it is rolled out across the state and throughout the Help Me Grow national affiliate network.

An estimated 5,000 Connecticut children will be referred to Help Me Grow for services in the coming year.

“Help Me Grow, through its focus on early detection by strengthening developmental surveillance and screening, has increased the detection of young children at risk for adverse outcomes,” Dr. Dworkin said.  “This support will enable us to partner with The Village for Families & Children to ensure that MLDA is accessible to every child and family in need in Connecticut.”

To access Help Me Grow® in Connecticut, please contact the United Way’s Child Development Infoline at (800) 505-7000.

About Connecticut Children’s Medical Center

Connecticut Children’s Medical Center is a nationally recognized, 187-bed not-for-profit children’s hospital serving as the primary teaching hospital for the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. Named among the best in the nation for two of its pediatric specialties in the annual U.S. News & World Report “Best Children’s Hospitals” rankings, Connecticut Children’s is the only free-standing children’s hospital in Connecticut that offers comprehensive, world-class health care to children. Our pediatric services are available at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford and at Saint Mary’s Hospital in Waterbury, with neonatal intensive care units at Hartford Hospital and the University of Connecticut Health Center, along with a state-of-the-art ambulatory surgery center, five specialty care centers and 11 other locations across the state. Connecticut Children’s has a medical staff of nearly 1,100 practicing in more than 30 specialties.

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About LEGO Community Fund U.S.

The LEGO Community Fund U.S., a 501 (c)3, seeks to help the Builders of Tomorrow reach their potential by supporting programs benefitting children 0-14, primarily in the areas of learning, creativity or creative problem solving. The organization focuses on the U.S. communities where The LEGO Group operates, including the greater Hartford area of Connecticut. The Fund also provides resources to enable LEGO Education to make small grants in its surrounding community of Pittsburg, Kansas, as well as to each of the managers of 85 LEGO Stores across the country to support children in their local communities.

 About The Village

For more than 200 years, The Village for Families & Children has been working to build a community of strong, healthy families who protect and nurture children. We fulfill this mission by providing a full range of children’s behavioral health treatment, foster care and adoption, and community support services for children and their families in the Greater Hartford region. For more information, visit or call (860) 236-4511; connect with us on Facebook at