May 2012 Newsletter
In This Issue
Committee and Task Force Meeting Summaries
Upcoming Meetings will be live soon! In the meantime, meeting dates and times are posted on the NH Department of Education calendar and full meeting summaries are available on Early Learning NH's website.
Get Involved!
If you are interested in being involved in Spark NH, please contact
Director Laura Milliken at
Spark NH 
2 Delta Drive
Concord, NH 03301
Tel: (603) 226-7900
Fax: (603) 226-7290
Dear Friend of Spark NH,

All the Spark NH Committees and Task Forces have been making steady process in the 7 months since they began meeting. Committees are now understanding where their work fits with other Spark NH committees. For example, the Needs Assessment Committee realized that, as part of its work, it needed the support of the Communications Committee to help promote the completed statewide needs assessment. The Needs Assessment Committee is also collaborating with the Policy Committee to discuss how the needs assessment will inform the statewide strategic plan for early childhood in New Hampshire. The Communications Committee and Family Engagement Task force have also been collaborating about how best to talk to families about Spark NH and are planning to ensure that messaging that comes from the Communciations Committee is vetted by families with young children.


On April 5th, Spark NH's Communications Committee hosted a presentation with our communications consultant, Lynn Davey, Ph.D. about effective early childhood messaging. The event had a great turnout and participants gave universally positive reviews. People left feeling that they had important work to do to be good ambassadors for Spark NH and to promote the importance of early childhood in New Hampshire. Spark NH is very fortunate to have Dr. Davey working with us on our messaging and our media campaign.


The Director and the Executive Committee of Spark NH recently met with Deputy Commissioner of the NH Department of Health and Human Services, Mary Ann Cooney and Director of the Division of Children, Youth and Families, Maggie Bishop to update them on the progress of Spark NH. Both were very enthusiastic about our work and made suggestions about resources and connections that Spark might use to facilitate its work.


Laura Milliken
Director, Spark NH
Committee and Task Force Meeting Summaries 
(as of April 25, 2012)


Communications and Public Awareness Committee - April 5

During the extended, April 5th meeting, Dr Lynn Davey presented: Improving Public Understanding of Child and Family Issues: The Science and Art of Communications. Dr. Davey said that because packaging guides perception it is important to start thinking more broadly, so that the SPARK message is understood. As we begin to look at the possibility of developing a SPARK NH Business Summit or Breakfast, we must ask ourselves two questions: Who are we talking to in regards to overall messaging and what is the "sub-messaging"? Laura and Dr. Davey distributed a thirty and a sixty second elevator speech to the group, and Laura offered a preview of the SPARK website, which may be launched as soon as May 2012.

Evaluation Committee - April 6


The Evaluation Committee discussed and reviewed the initial results of the Spark NH Member Survey conducted in March of 2012.  Themes were discussed as well as potential solutions.  A summary of the survey is being created for review at the next Evaluation meeting to be presented at the May Council Meeting.  The committee also reviewed progress on the Council Work plan.


Executive Committee - March 22


Executive Committee discussed process for linking to Spark NH, budget, and new financial procedures. Anticipating a request from Policy Committee, it recommends allocating up to $25,000 for a strategic planning consultant. Laura may be seeking Endowment for Health funds for the sustainability planning process. Elissa Margolin will consult using components of the Finance Project model. Debriefed the Governor's Office meeting and planned meeting with Commissioners Barry and Toumpas. Ellen Wheatley attending NAEYC PDI meeting as representative of Spark NH. Christen Lavers requested sending Debra Armfield, Ellen Wheatley and Laura Milliken to next NGA meeting. A meeting evaluation needed at the May Council meeting.


Data Committee - April 13


The Data Committee continued to discuss the potential for Spark NH to provide leadership and resources for the expansion of the SASID (State Assigned Student Identifier) for children receiving early childhood services. If SPARK submitted a proposal to the NH DOE, it could be framed as a fact-finding feasibility study to better understand the infrastructure and system needs if such an approach were taken to scale. A meeting of a Task Force to explore/define the idea further will be held on May 16 at 3 pm. Additionally, as part of the combined work with the Needs Assessment Task Force, the Committee reviewed examples from New Mexico of geomapping and discussed opportunities to enrich a New Hampshire- focused Needs Assessment.


Family Partnership and Engagement Task Force - April 11

At the meeting, the group proposed revisions to the Spark NH Committee Guidelines to reflect the need for each committee to find ways to include families in its work and to vet its work with families. The task force created a list of parent groups around the state with whom Spark NH could connect and asked members to reach out to those groups. If others have suggestions of parent groups, the task force is still taking suggestions. Finally the group reviewed and edited a family outreach form/questionnaire to use to recruit families to Spark NH.


Home Visiting Task Force - April 18


The state leads for several home visiting programs met on April 18, 2012 to discuss the future direction of the Spark Home Visiting Task Force. We engaged in preliminary discussions of recruiting a Steering Committee to guide the work of the Task Force, and have plans to meet again within a month to continue the discussion. At this point we are envisioning the Task Force shifting into more of a Stakeholder Group, or Coalition, that would continue to work on coordination of home visiting services across programs, identifying and taking advantage of opportunities for collaboration, and home visiting systems building.


Needs Assessment Task Force - April 4


Four interns started to research six of the twelve priority areas identified by the needs assessment committee. They will report their findings for the Data Committee, May 7 from 2:00-4:00. A review of the work plan resulted in a minor change in GOAL 2, Objective 2A, Activity #4 to "In progress" under the Status Column. A decision was made to re-distribute the 2010 preliminary survey on coordination and collaboration in Spring 2013 to evaluate the impact of Spark NH to date as well as inform Spark NH on work going forward. The committee is drafting a scope of work for a consultant to write the needs assessment report. At the next meeting, the committee will discuss ways to address the other six indicators not addressed by the MPH interns.


Quality of Early Childhood Systems Committee - April 17

The Quality Committee reviewed its progress on its work plan and worked on the questions for the focus group on access to early childhood programs in May 2012. Accomplishments of the committee since September include: Developing activities to address the existing strategic outcomes and objectives, developed a common agreement of what quality means (within the group); Reviewed and reflected on the Child Development Bureau's work on the Quality Rating and Improvement System; Cross walked the work of a number of states regarding QRIS; and Developed and have begun to use a similar cross walk based on the committee's definition of quality for early childhood home visiting programs. Current activities include: Finalize questions and details regarding the May Focus Group on accessing EC programs; Continue work on crosswalk for EC home visiting programs; and Continue review, reflect, and make recommendations to the CDB regarding QRIS.


Spark NH Committee and Task Force Chairpersons - March 23


The Chairs agree that all committees need to be involved in the strategic planning process the Policy Committee will soon be launching. Chairpersons agree that having the whole committee involved in making decisions, even simple ones, is beneficial. Within committees there are those who can advocate professionally and those who cannot because of their employment. Spark NH cannot take a stance on legislative issues. It's clear that the work of our committees will have political implications, but Spark NH needs to be careful that there is no lobbying. The Chairs will benefit from a presentation concerning advocacy vs. lobbying.


Website Design Task Force - March 27


Beta site pages provided to Spark NH by the web design consultant in March showed the progress that has been made so far. Responses have been very positive and feedback has been helpful. Currently the task force is collecting pictures and confirming which links will be used on the sub pages. We are optimistic for a late May or early June launch of the website.


Work Force and Professional Development Committee - March 23


In February, the Committee agreed to two initiatives: 1) Develop a home for information about early childhood professional development opportunities; and 2) develop standards for quality professional development, including incorporating existing standards for quality professional development across early childhood fields. In March, the Committee used the Project Charter process to start the planning for the first initiative. That professional development home project will be called NH Early Childhood PORTAL: Professional Opportunities, Resources, Tools, and Links (Birth to Grade 3). 

Upcoming Meetings 

Meetings are held at 2 Delta Drive in Concord NH unless otherwise noted.

Wednesday, May 2, 1:30-3:30............................ Needs Assessment Task Force

    Meeting (and every 1st Wednesday)

Thursday, May 3, 10-12 ..................................... Communications Committee Meeting,

    (and every 1st Thursday, 10-12)

Friday, May 4, 2-4............................................... Evaluation Committee Meeting (and

     every 1st Friday)

Monday, May 7, 2-4............................................ Data Committee (and every first


Tuesday May 8, 9-11........................................... Policy Committee (usually every

     second Tuesday 9-10:30)

Wednesday, May 9, 1-2:30................................. Family Partnership and Engagement

     Task Force (and every 2d Wed.)

Tuesday, May 15, 1-3.......................................... Quality Committee (and every 3rd


Thursday, May 24, 8:30-11.................................. Spark NH monthly Council meeting

     (and every 4th Thursday)

Thursday, May 24, 11:30-1:30............................. Executive Committee meeting (and

     every 4th Thursday)

Friday, May 25, 9-11........................................... Workforce and Professional

     Development Committee meeting 

    (and every 4th Friday)

Friday, May 25, 1-3............................................. Chairs Meeting (Every other month on

     the 4th Friday)