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FAQ: HELP 0-6

HELP 0-3 and HELP 3-6 are linked by over-lapping age ranges and a shared structure of the Strands, but they have different authors: HELP 0-3 is authored by Stephanie Parks Warshaw. HELP 3-6 is based on HELP for Preschoolers (1995) and the revision by a series of editors (2008-2010).

HELP 3-6 complements and extends HELP 0-3. Thus, some of the FAQ answers apply to both HELP 0-3 and HELP 3-6, such as "Is HELP standardized?" – the answer is No for both HELP 0-3 and HELP 3-6. For clinical questions specific to HELP 0-3, please see the HELP: 0-3 Clinical Questions page.


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How to Use HELP

HELP is a flexible curriculum based assessment system that includes a variety of assessment and intervention components such as assessing a child's developmental strengths and needs, identifying family concerns priorities and resources, and planning interventions to address assessment findings.

What do I need to "get started" using HELP?  [Top]
Please see the products with the * on the this page. These products are the "core" set of materials you needs to get started with curriculum-based assessment, although many program and child development specialists also order additional products, such as the HELP Charts, based on the needs of the families served.

Can I buy just one section of the HELP Charts, e.g., just Gross/Fine Motor?  [Top]
That's a good question, but unfortunately No. To keep costs low, the HELP Charts are printed only as an integrated set of 3 sheets (1. Cognitive/Language, 2. Gross/Fine Motor, 3. Social/Self-Help) and that is how they have to be sold to maintain pricing.

How should parents use VORT materials?  [Top]
VORT products and publications are intended for use by and under the guidance of child development professionals. For example, parents interested in using the HELP, the BCP, or our Neonatal (UMS) materials must receive the materials through (ordered by) a qualified professional, and must work with and consult the professional on all procedures, including but not limited to Gross and Fine Motor activities, Safety Issues, and any questions whatsoever.

Is VORT the sole source and original publisher of its products?  [Top]
Yes, VORT Corporation is the original publisher, and sole and _only_ source for all its materials, including all the components of HELP, the Hawaii Early Learning Profile.

Can we copy the HELP Charts, Checklists, or Strands?  [Top]
No. All of VORT's materials are copyrighted and may not be copied or reproduced or translated in any form or manner without the written consent of VORT Corporation. VORT has published and improved HELP for over twenty-five years, and it is the integrity of our users and their respect of our copyrights that allows us to continue to develop and provide these excellent materials to the field. Thank you for respecting our copyrights.

Is HELP available on disk or CD?  [Top]
No, not on disk or CD. But coming late in 2017, the entire HELP: 0-6 content may be available online.

Is there an assessment kit available that has all the materials needed for the assessment? [Top]
No. HELP is not standardized and does not require standardized materials. The materials you use can be individualized to meet individual child preferences and needs. Whenever possible, use toys and materials in the child's natural environment which are functional and meaningful for the child (see Assessment Materials in Inside HELP).

Where can I get training on HELP?  [Top]
The book Inside HELP, Product #159 is necessary for learning how to use HELP: 0-3. The book HELP 3-6 Assessment Manual, Product #659 is necessary for learning how to use HELP: 3-6.
See the "Training" tab for more options.

Why is HELP so popular and widely used?  [Top]
Over the past 20 years, VORT has continued to update and build upon the core 1,200 developmentally sequenced skills that comprise HELP. HELP is one of the most widely-used (if not the most widely used) curriculum-based assessments in the world. It has been translated into 8 languages. The reasons for HELP's success and popularity are most likely the breadth and detail of the skills covered, the structure of the skill domains and the Strands, the important and excellent family-centered design and support materials, and the optional and practical formats.

How does HELP compare to other assessments?  [Top]
HELP covers more detailed skills (comprehensive), has pioneered activities tied to skills from the child's point of view (child-focused and family-centered), and offers more options (practical). While there are several good curriculum-based assessments available to the field, based on user feedback, HELP is one of the best. Learn more from the book "Linking Assessment" by Bagnato, available from Brookes Publishing.

The BCP seems similar to HELP -- what is the difference?  [Top]
HELP covers detailed skills from ages birth to six years and provides age ranges for each skill (denoting when the skill typically emerges). The BCP does not provide age ranges and covers ages 1-14 years, so developmentally, the BCP starts and ends higher in terms of skills. The BCP is most often used with individuals with special needs who may be chronologically older than six years but developmentally are functioning between 1 and 14 years of age.

Best Beginnings seems similar to HELP -- which do I need?  [Top]
HELP and Best Beginnings are complimentary products. HELP is used for on-going assessment and direct involvement of the family in the specific HELP skills being targeted/taught. HELP is to be used as your "core" assessment tool. In a complimentary manner, Best Beginnings can help the family track what information they already have on their child (medical and developmental), and provide the parents with general information on what to expect (anticipatory guidance) regarding the next (3-month) stages of their child's development.

How do HELP skills relate to Head Start Outcomes?  [Top]
The HELP 3-6 behaviors/skills correlate well to the Head Start Positive Child Outcomes (PCO). VORT offers a free correlation (Learn more.). The PCO are used for periodic reporting (e.g., semi-annual), but HELP provides effective, daily/weekly on-going family-centered assessment that effectively provides growth and development for each child, and the HELP-PCO correlation provides a basis for easily completing the requirements for PCO periodic reporting.

What do the age ranges mean for each HELP skill? [Top]
No child is expected to display all HELP skills listed nor display all skills for an age range. Be sure to consider individual, environmental, or cultural differences per child.

• The age ranges reported in HELP are the ages at which a skill or behavior (for children who do not have disabilities) typically begin to emerge according to the literature. These age ranges are not when a skill begins and ends. Some skills are time-limited and emerge into more complex skills, while others are lifetime skills.

• Sometimes a skill or behavior stretches out over several months. This is not meant to imply that the skill begins and ends within the age-range time frame. The age range reflects when skills typically emerge. Since there is not always agreement in growth and development literature, approximate age ranges are offered as a guide of when you can expect a skill to typically be present. A child may develop the skill or behavior at any time within the age range to be "developmentally age appropriate." Some skills will be time-limited and emerge into more complex skills, while others are lifetime skills. Descriptions of the child's behaviors and skills are more important than age levels for understanding a child's development and determining next steps in intervention or the child's educational plan.

• Age ranges for HELP 3-6 are displayed in Year.Month, e.g., 3.10-4.4 is 3 years 10 months to 4 years 4 months.

What are the minimum suggested/required qualifications for administration of the HELP assessment? [Top]
HELP is a flexible curriculum based assessment system that includes a variety of assessment and intervention components such as assessing a child's developmental strengths and needs, identifying family concerns priorities and resources, and planning interventions to address assessment findings.

HELP is widely used in numerous settings with a variety of children and families, e.g., community preschools, day care, Head Start, and Part C early intervention programs for infants and toddlers who have developmental concerns.

Therefore, the suggested qualifications for those using HELP will be dependent upon how HELP is being used:

• If HELP is being used as part of the Part C assessment process, a multidisciplinary team should be involved who are considered "qualified personnel" according your State's definition under Federal regulations, e.g., a speech therapist licensed as a speech-language pathologist, an educator certified in early childhood. Inside HELP (the administration and reference manual for using HELP ) would need to be used as part of the assessment and intervention planning process.

• If HELP is being used to provide curricular programs for children who do not have significant developmental delays or disabilities, then paraprofessional personnel who have experience and a good understanding of infant-toddler development can use HELP.

HELP covers so many items, where do I begin? [Top]
No other currently available birth-to-three curriculums include as many developmental skills, behaviors, and intervention strategies as the HELP. The density and comprehensiveness of HELP can, at first glance, appear overwhelming, especially to the new user. However, the comprehensiveness of HELP offers the clinician more variety and options for assessment and curriculum planning, and enables families and clinicians to plan and monitor progress in small, incremental steps. The following tips can help make using HELP more manageable.

a. Remember: HELP is not a "one-time" tool [Top]
HELP is an ongoing curriculum-based assessment which is not intended to be completed in one assessment session. There are a large number of skills, but they span three years and are intended to be addressed over a long period of time.

b. Not all skills are pertinent
All of the HELP skills and behaviors listed are rarely pertinent to any one child. Many will not be pertinent due to the child's age and developmental level, some skills may not be functional due to a child's disability, some skills may not be culturally relevant, and other skills may not be necessary to assess because they are judged not to be important to assess for a particular child, e.g., ability to walk on a balance beam if the child displays no difficulty in motor planning or balance skills. As you consider these variables, the scope of skills appropriate to assess during initial observations and family interview can become narrower and more manageable.

c. Don't assess each skill, strand, or domain separately [Top]
Although each skill, strand, or domain has an underlying key concept or focus, it is typically unnecessary and inappropriate to assess each separately. Each observation of a child completing a task or involved in an interaction or daily activity yields information about a variety of skills and behaviors - simultaneously. For example, if you observe a parent asking the child to, "Throw the ball," and in response the child says, "ball" and throws the ball in a playful way to his parent, you could credit in receptive language his understanding of the words "ball" and "throw" in Strand 2-1, as well as his ability to follow a direction in Strand 2-2. In addition, you could credit his expressive vocabulary with the word "ball" in Strand 2-3, as well as his ability to produce single consonant vowel combinations in Strand 2-6. The gross motor and social interaction skills of throwing a ball can also be credited in the Gross Motor and Social-Emotional domains. Thus, a single response is likely to elicit information on several skills in several strands.

d. Get a general idea of where to begin before you begin [Top]
Parents can provide an enormous amount of information about their child to give you a general idea of level of functioning in most areas of development. This information can be gathered from family interviews over the phone, in person, and through application questionnaires. In addition to family interviews, additional developmental information may be available from previous screenings or formal evaluations. Since many of the items on the HELP are similar to items contained in various screening and evaluation tools, this information is likely to be useful in identifying were to begin with the HELP.

Is HELP standardized or normed?  [Top]
No, HELP is a curriculum-based assessment. It is not a standardized test. HELP can however be used to compliment standardized instruments to support "informed clinical opinion" requirements. HELP can also be used as an initial and ongoing assessment to help identify the child's unique strengths and needs, services appropriate to meet those needs, and the resources, priorities, and concerns of the family as required by Part C.

Does HELP provide a score or single age equivalent?  [Top]
No, HELP is not standardized or normed. As such, it is not intended to be used to calculate a child's single-age equivalent (score or % delay). HELP can, however, help determine approximate or estimated developmental levels within and between major developmental domains and help document when a child is displaying typical and atypical skills and behaviors expected for his/her age.

Are there published reliability or validity articles on HELP?  [Top]
HELP is a family-centered, comprehensive, ongoing curriculum-based assessment process. HELP is not a single instrument, is not intended to be used for diagnosis, and, it is not a norm-referenced, standardized test. As such, we are not aware of specific validity research or published articles. Click here for a Summary of research on HELP 0-3 completed by the University of Kentucky

HELP is however intended to identify family and infant strengths and needs, assist in determining "next steps" for intervention and support, provide individualized family-centered information and support, and, to monitor progress. The age ranges, skills and behaviors, criterion referencing, example observation opportunities, and developmental activities are based upon expert review and review of the literature, as well as normative data from existing standardized tests. These resources are listed in the "References" section of Inside HELP, Administration and Reference Manuel.

There is also an expanding evidence base related to the benefits of using "Curriculum Based Assessments" in general, as well as the benefits of delivering family-centered services. For example: Neisworth, J.T. & Bagnato, S. J. "The MisMeasure of Young Children: the Authentic Assessment Alternative". Infants and Young Children, 17( 3):198-212, 2004. Additional journal articles that address importance of family involvement and have included using HELP in their studies include:

1. Mary Pat Moeller, M.P. "Early Intervention and Language Development in Children Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing" Pediatrics, Sep 2000; 106: 43.
2. Coplan, J. Jawad, A.F., "Modeling Clinical Outcome of Children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders. Pediatric 2005:116;117-122
3. Belcher, H., Butz, A. M., Wallace, P. et. al. "Spectrum of Early Intervention Services for Children With Intrauterine Drug Exposure." Infants & Young Children. 18(1):2-15, 2005.

Do I need Inside HELP (#159) for 0-3 assessment?  [Top]
Yes, absolutely. Inside HELP is necessary for proper use of HELP (0-3). Inside HELP provides clear procedures, criteria, and important insights on how to use HELP as a curriculum-based assessment.

Do I need the HELP Family-Centered Interview?  [Top]
This interview booklet supports your efforts to ensure a family-directed assessment of each family's concerns priorities and resources as they relate to the needs of their child. The Family-Centered Interview helps you better reflect the priorities and concerns of the family and to save you time. By using the Family-Centered Interview, you can more easily identify the needs of the child and the appropriate HELP Strands to begin your on-going curriculum-based assessment. The Family-Centered Interview helps you determine where to start within HELP.

Do I need the Assessment / Curriculum Guide (#659) for 3-6 assessment?  [Top]
Yes, the HELP 3-6 Assessment Manual is necessary for proper use of HELP (3-6). It provides clear procedures, criteria, and instructional activities for using HELP 3-6 materials.

Do I need both #159 and #659 if I am working with children birth to six?  [Top]
Yes, each of the books provides procedures specific to the age ranges covered. You need #159 (Inside HELP) for ages 0-3, and #659 (Assessment Manual) for ages 3-6 years.

How do the HELP 0-3 materials relate to the HELP 3-6 materials?  [Top]
The HELP 3-6 behaviors/skills are a direct continuation of the HELP 0-3 behaviors and skills. Together, as a single continuum, HELP provides over 1,250 developmental skills covering ages 0-6 years.

Which HELP assessment recording form(s) should I use? [Top]
HELP offers three formats for recording initial and ongoing assessments and collecting child data: the HELP Strands and the HELP Checklist, while the HELP Charts are most typically used for communicating progress to parents.

The HELP Strands breaks the six major domains into sub-groups (strands) according to underlying skill concept; structured so that one skill leads to the next skill. The HELP Strands are thus usually better suited for children who have disabilities and/or more uneven development within a major domain. The HELP Strands are available in two formats: a loose-leaf format and a booklet format. The loose-leaf version pulls apart by major domain. If more than one discipline will be assessing at one time, use the loose-leaf format.

The HELP Checklist and HELP Charts list skills according to age and major developmental domains, but the skills are not sub-grouped within domain. Thus one skill does not necessarily lead to the next. The HELP Checklist can be used for children who have more even development or who do not have disabilities. The Charts are wonderful for providing parents with a "picture" of their child's progress.

There is also a HELP form available for collecting family information -- the HELP Family-Centered Interview. This form can be used from initial contacts with the family and throughout intervention to record and update family concerns, priorities, and resources.

What is the difference between the HELP Strands and the HELP Checklist?  [Top]
The HELP Strands and the HELP Checklist (for both ages 0-3 and 3-6) cover the exact same skills, only the formats are different. The Strands are a newer design and provide a better developmental structure for identifying needs and planning next steps since the skills within each strand are developmentally sequenced (one leading to the next). The Checklist is more often used with "typically" developing children.