Harvard Ash Center recognizes Healthy Development Services as a Bright Idea in Government

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The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, recognized First 5 San Diego Healthy Development Services as part of the 2015 Bright Ideas program. This year’s cohort includes 124 programs from all levels of government—school districts; county, city, state, and federal agencies; as well as public-private partnerships—that are at the forefront in innovative government action. First 5 San Diego’s Healthy Development Services (HDS) program supports children’s success by identifying mild to moderate developmental and behavioral delays during the critical first five years of life and provides families with the appropriate services, treatment, and resources. HDS families receive coordinated services, at no cost to them, through an integrated system of community providers before delays become more difficult and expensive to address.

First 5 San Diego launched HDS in 2006 to identify, assess and treat children with mild to moderate developmental and behavioral delays who do not qualify for early intervention services through schools or other funding.  Studies have shown that intervention prior to kindergarten has huge academic, social, and economic benefits.  Of the children who entered HDS services, over 85% with developmental delays and over 93% with behavioral delays showed improvement.

“The Bright Ideas program demonstrates that often seemingly intractable problems can be creatively and capably tackled by small groups of dedicated, civic-minded individuals,” said Stephen Goldsmith, director of the Innovations in Government Program at the Ash Center. “As exemplified by this year’s Bright Ideas, making government work better doesn’t always require massive reforms and huge budgets. Indeed, we are seeing that, in many ways, an emphasis on efficiency and adaptability can have further-reaching effects than large-scale reforms.”

This is the fourth cohort recognized through the Bright Ideas program, an initiative of the broader Innovations in American Government Awards program. For consideration as a Bright Idea, programs must currently be in operation or in the process of launching and have sufficient operational resources and must be administered by one or more governmental entities; nonprofit, private sector, and union initiatives are eligible if operating in partnership with a governmental organization. Bright Ideas are showcased on the Ash Center’s Government Innovators Network, an online platform for practitioners and policymakers to share innovative public policy solutions.

“It is an honor to have our program recognized as a Bright Idea,” said Kim Medeiros, executive director of First 5 San Diego.  “HDS gives young children the opportunity to live and learn to their fullest potential, diminishes the need for future public investment, and builds a healthy, thriving community.”


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