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LD 17 - Legislator Tom Donnelly

Posted on: September 14, 2018

Legislator Donnelly Welcomes 'Docs For Tots' Program Director


As Chair of the Education and Human Services Committee that has jurisdiction over child care initiatives and protecting the welfare of Suffolk County youth, Legislator Tom Donnelly invited and welcomed Melissa Passarelli, director of programs at Docs for Tots, a not-for-profit organization that focuses on improving outcomes for young children, to the August 28 committee meeting in Hauppauge.

Ms. Passarelli provided information on the Help Me Grow – Long Island (HMG-LI) initiative, a free program that connects families and providers to community resources and child development information. In her comprehensive presentation, she shared statistics that demonstrated the need for early childhood intervention programs, including the finding that 12-17% of children have developmental delays, yet only 30-40% of these delays are caught before a child gets to school.

“Many services exist across Long Island to support families with young children, but it averages seven attempts to successfully link a family to a program that can provide appropriate assistance,” said Ms. Passarelli. “The Help Me Grow – Long Island partnership streamlines the process so that families can get the critical support and aid they need as soon as possible.”

Launched earlier this year, HMG-LI is fully-funded through Federal, State and private grants. Legislator Donnelly learned about the program through the Suffolk County Child Care Commission on which he serves.

“With research showing that 85% of brain development occurs in the first three years of life, the early years are clearly the critical time to intervene,” said Legislator Donnelly. “As the biggest roadblock to getting help can be just not knowing where to go, I am grateful to Ms. Passarelli for her work on this important program and urge local families with young children to see if it can assist them.”

For more information, go to or call 516-548-8924.

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