FCASPL 219 (Help Me Grow {HMG} Referral Instructions for PCSAs)
Family, Children and Adult Services Procedure Letter No. 219
August 5, 2011
TO: All Family, Children and Adult Services Manual Holders
FROM: Michael B. Colbert, Director
SUBJECT: Instruction for Public Children Services Agencies regarding referral and service planning with Help Me Grow lead county agencies.

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) has partnered with the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) to establish procedures for county public children services agencies (PCSAs) and lead county Help Me Grow (HMG) agencies in order to produce efficient referrals and service planning for families. The ODH Bureau of Early Intervention Services administers the HMG programs and services through the lead county agencies. HMG provides services to children and families through two programs, Part C and Home Visitation. Each program has specific eligibility criteria and unique services as outlined below:

HMG Part C

To be eligible for Part C services, children must be age 0-3 with a physical or mental condition diagnosed by a physician, or a developmental delay in at least one of the following areas: cognitive, physical (includes vision and hearing), communication, social/emotional, or adaptive. The services provided through this program include but are not limited to: child find, evaluation and assessment, service coordination, individual family service plans, and transition.

HMG Home Visitation

The HMG Home Visiting program is designed for first time parents who are expecting or who have an infant under six months of age at the time of referral; and for those very young children who are at highest risk for poor childhood outcomes, i.e., children under three years of age who are victims of substantiated cases of child abuse or neglect as determined by a PCSA, and children under three years of age who have a parent engaged in active military duty. The services provided through this program include but are not limited to: parenting education, information and referral of the availability of advocacy services, and facilitation of needs-based linkages to the community. Because the Home Visiting Program is a parenting education program, caregivers who are not biological parents are not eligible to provide consent to participate.

Effective August 8, 2011, the following children referred to HMG from a PCSA will be automatically eligible for Home Visitation services as a result of the Ohio's implementation of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) requirements for children who are victims of substantiated abuse or neglect:

1.A child under age three who is a victim of a substantiated abuse and/or neglect report.

2.A child born affected by illegal substance abuse or withdrawal symptoms resulting from prenatal drug exposure.

3.A child who is in a family with an active JFS 01418, "Family Service Plan" (rev. 3/2011) who is being served through the Alternative Response pathway and for whom Help Me Grow services are identified as a required service within the Family Service Plan.

PCSAs submitting a referral to HMG under the third criteria must identify the services as required on the JFS 01418 and link the services to the caseworker's assessment of safety or risk. This is accomplished by identifying HMG services on the JFS 01418 in the section titled, "What are the concerns/needs for the family?" The HMG service provider must be identified on the JFS 01418 in the section titled, "What steps will be taken to get this done and who will do it?" The referral will result in automatic eligibility for Home Visitation services with parental consent and a screening and assessment for Part C eligibility.

If the HMG service is not identified as required on the JFS 01418, the HMG referral will be considered a recommended service. A child with an active JFS 01418 in which HMG services are recommended will not be eligible for services under the CAPTA provision for a victim of substantiated abuse or neglect. In these circumstances, the local HMG agency will assign a home visitor and obtain parental consent to participate in HMG. If parental consent is not granted, HMG services will not be provided to the family.

ODH has provided a memorandum to local HMG agencies in conjunction with the issuance of this Procedure Letter. The memorandum provides instruction to local HMG agencies regarding the receipt and processing of referrals completed by a PCSA. This memorandum can be accessed under the link to 2011 memos at:


Effective August 8, 2011, local HMG agencies will require all referrals to be submitted on the attached referral form developed by ODH. Referrals submitted absent the completed referral form will not be accepted. Each PCSA is instructed to contact the local HMG agency in order to confirm the referral process. ODJFS encourages each PCSA to develop an Interagency Agreement with the local HMG agency in order to clarify roles, responsibilities, and expectations regarding the referral process and the provision of services to families.

The following responses have been developed by the ODH and ODJFS in response to frequently asked questions:

1.How do I get a signed consent form from a biological parent who does not live within our county?

The obtainment of parental consent for services must be completed by HMG staff. Personnel obtaining parental consent must be trained in HMG policies, have the ability to inform parents of the HMG program and services, and advise parents of their rights. HMG may contact the PCSA requesting assistance in meeting with the parents in order to obtain the parental consent.

2.What information should be provided to HMG by a PCSA upon referring a child/family to the HMG agency?

All of the information requested on the referral form is required to be completed when a PCSA refers a family to HMG for services. HMG will not accept any referrals submitted without a completed referral form (see attached referral form).

3.What collaboration should occur when a parent is incarcerated and cannot sign a consent form for HMG Home Visitation services?

HMG is responsible for obtaining parental consent. When the goal is to reunify the child with the incarcerated parent diligent efforts should be exhausted to obtain the parent's consent. The parent's assigned case manager at the institution of incarceration should be contacted to assist in obtaining the parent's consent. HMG will provide services to families in which the parent is willing to receive HMG services. If the PCSA is providing services to the family, the PCSA case plan goal and HMG service needs should be identified and shared with the HMG agency. If the parent's consent can not be obtained HMG will not provide Home Visitation services to the family.

4.What should occur if the biological parent refuses to sign the consent for HMG services?

HMG will provide the PCSA with a referral follow-up form within 45 days from receipt of the PCSA referral. The document will identify if parental consent was obtained and the activities exhausted in obtaining the parental consent. Parental consent must be obtained for HMG to provide services. The PCSA will maintain the follow-up form in the case record. The PCSA caseworker should identify if the HMG service is listed in the family's case plan and if the service will assist in the reduction and mitigation of risk to the child for abuse or neglect and inform HMG of any contacts the PCSA caseworker plans to have with the parent regarding the refusal to consent. If the HMG services have been identified to reduce or mitigate the risk of abuse or neglect the PCSA caseworker should address the refusal to consent for services and assist in explaining to the parent why the service is needed and identify the benefits of participating in the HMG service.

5.What should occur when the biological parent cannot be located to sign the consent for HMG services?

The child's PCSA caseworker makes every effort to locate the child's parent(s). If the child is eligible for HMG Part C services a surrogate parent is assigned to consent to services. Home Visitation services can not be provided when the child is not eligible for Part C services or has recommended HMG services through an Alternative Response Family Service Plan. A surrogate parent cannot be assigned in this circumstance. The HMG referral will be closed. Regardless of the custody status of the child, a PCSA employee cannot sign the consent for HMG services in place of the biological parent.

The ODH Bureau of Early Intervention Services is providing online training to PCSA caseworkers. The training provides a program overview of Help Me Grow, as well as instructions for making a referral to the program. This training can be accessed at: https://oh.train.org. The course title is "Ohio Help Me Grow: System Overview for Ohio's Public Children Service Agencies" and the course ID is 1028668. Continuing Education Units (CEUs) are available. An attendance certificate will be issued upon the completion of the training. To access the training, go to Ohio Train (at the URL above) and search for courses. Enter "Ohio Help Me Grow" and select "Ohio Help Me Grow: System Overview for Ohio's Public Children Service Agencies".

If you have any questions regarding this Procedure Letter, please contact Denielle Ell-Rittinger (Denielle.Ell-Rittinger@jfs.ohio.gov) at (614)752-1143.


The following chart depicts what materials should be deleted from the Family, Children and Adult Services Manual (FCASM) and what materials should be inserted in the FCASM.

Procedure Letters FCASPL No. 219

Attachment:Referral to Help Me Grow from PCSA Form