August 2012 Newsletter
In This Issue
Committee and Task Force Meeting Summaries
Upcoming Meetings
Links of Interest 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
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Dear Friend of Spark NH,


At nine months old Spark NH is broadening its reach and continuing to make itself known. Committees continue to add new members and our email list keeps growing. With just 1.25 paid staff, Spark NH has leveraged thousands of volunteer hours and much in-kind support for young children and their families in New Hampshire. Our work plan, which seemed ambitious at its outset, now seems within reach. At the end of our ARRA grant, a year from this August, we expect to have a much clearer sense of how expectant families and children birth through third grade and their families are doing in New Hampshire. We expect to be able to create tools to support early childhood providers and better the quality of early childhood programs and services. Early Childhood programs and services will be working together in a more coordinated and collaborative way. We will have a comprehensive strategic plan for early childhood in New Hampshire. We'll be getting out the message about the importance of early childhood, making strides toward integrating early childhood data, and with determined effort, have found the funds to support our small staff. I continue to be amazed and extremely grateful for the very hard work of so many volunteers from around the state who are devoted to working in Spark NH to make things better in New Hampshire for young children and their families.


While some committees took breaks from meeting in July, others continued to make great strides. The Needs Assessment RFP garnered interest from numerous prestigious organizations and the Needs Assessment Task Force looks forward to some strong proposals. The Policy Committee has begun work with the National Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (NECTAC), gathering strategic plans as the first step in creating a comprehensive strategic plan for early childhood in New Hampshire. The Child Care Development Fund Federal Plan Task Force (a task force of the Policy Committee) met for the first time to begin advising the New Hampshire Child Development Bureau on its Federal plan. The Workforce and Professional Development Committee is researching potential funding opportunities to partially fund its PORTAL project. The Committee will likely be approaching the Council for additional funds. The Communications and Public Awareness Committee is planning a meeting with key business leaders in the fall to advise the committee on how best to reach out to other business leaders across the state to inform them about the importance of early childhood. The task force to work on sustainability of the Council operating budget will be convening in late July. Finally, through the herculean efforts of a great collaborative team led by Dee Dunn, New Hampshire's SAMHSA Project LAUNCH grant was submitted in early July. We'll keep you posted as we hear.


Respectfully submitted,

Laura Milliken,

Director, Spark NH


"Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much." - Helen Keller

Committee and Task Force Meeting Summaries 
(as of August 2, 2012)


Communications and Public Awareness Committee - July 5

In July the group reviewed and updated its work plan, and continued to discuss plans for a fall meeting with business leaders who have been previously engaged in conversations around early childhood issues. Communications consultant Lynn Davey led a "next steps" discussion about how to deploy the master framing work done at a prior meeting. Some suggestions were "call outs" at the top of each Spark NH website page, and op eds. The group identified possible opportunities for deployment including strength-based parent events, and talked about what opportunities could be created, and what tools might be needed: parent events, family friendly communications, and a language template were discussed as possibilities. When the group meets with business leaders we will ask for their input in considering who should be recruited and trained as messengers, and if there should be a spokesperson.


Executive Committee - June 28


Five minutes will be reserved on each Council meeting agenda for individual Council Member sharing. Chair and Vice-Chair can approve requests for support letters. Information about how Spark NH can partner will accompany each letter request. Strategic Planning and Sustainability Planning are both in progress. If awarded, Project Launch plans will be incorporated into the work of Spark NH. Sustainability Task Force meets in July with Elissa Margolin. Limiting work to Council business during meetings and meeting attendance were discussed.


Family Engagement Task Force - July 11


The task force introduced a new member at the meeting this month and a guest visitor. It was nice to have a new perspective. We talked again about the purpose of the questionnaire for families and whether it would engage parents. The task force felt the answer was no. There needs to be a cover letter that asks parents for their input in a way that makes them feel important, needed and part of a solution - then we think they will become involved. We will drafting these documents for the next meeting.


Policy Committee - July 10



The Policy Committee heard an update from the strategic planning consultants, the National Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (NECTAC). Discussed were how to use the HB86 matrix of public programs and services for children up through age 6, which statewide strategic plans are missing from those submitted, and engaging the Spark NH Council, all its committees, and the broader stakeholder community. NECTAC is presenting at the July 26 Council meeting and will soon hold its first meeting with the 4-member Core Planning Team (Ellen Wheatley, Erika Argersinger, Jeanne Agri, and Laura Milliken). The committee work plan was reviewed in its entirety.


Quality of EC Systems Committee - July 17

The Quality Committee welcomed a new member, Laurie Conrad from Child Care Resource and Referral. The QRIS Task Force accepted the Committee's recommended changes to the definition of quality and general guiding principles. The online survey on access to resources/the referral process was edited and a decision was made to create separate versions for parents and professionals. The next version of the surveys will be drafted and sent to the committee. This work is all preparatory to generating recommendations to improve access to and quality of early childhood programs and services.

Upcoming Meetings 

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






Friday, August 3, 2:00-4:00.....................................Evaluation Committee Meeting

                     (and every first Friday)

Monday, August 6, 2:00-4:00..................................Data Committee Meeting

                     (and every first Monday)

Tuesday, August 14, 9-10:30 ..................................Policy Committee Meeting

              (and every second Tuesday)

Tuesday, August 14, 11:30-1:30..............................Executive Committee Meeting

              (and every second Tuesday)

Wednesday, August 15, 1:00-2:30...........................Family Partnership and Engagement

      Task Force Meeting

       (and every second Wednesday)

Tuesday, August 21, 1:00-3:00.................................Quality Committee Meeting

                      (and every third Tuesday)

Thursday, August 23, 8:30-11:00..............................Spark NH monthly Council Meeting

               (and every fourth Thursday)

Friday, August 24, 9:00-11:00...................................Workforce and Professional

       Development Committee Meeting

       (and every fourth Friday)

Monday, August 27, 1:00-3:00..................................SASID Task Force Meeting





Monday, September 3, 2:00-4:00............................Data Committee Meeting

      (and every first Monday)

Wednesday, September 5, 1:30-3:30..................... Needs Assessment Task Force

                    (and every first Wednesday)

Thursday, September 6, 10:00-12:00 .....................Communications Committee Meeting

                     (and every first Thursday)

Friday, September 7, 2:00-4:00...............................Evaluation Committee Meeting

                            (and every first Friday)

Tuesday, September 11, 9:00-10:30........................Policy Committee Meeting

                     (and every second Tuesday)

Tuesday, September 11, 11:30-1:30........................Executive Committee Meeting

              (and every second Tuesday)

Wednesday, September 12, 1:00-2:30.....................Family Partnership and Engagement

                                    Task Force Meeting

                      (and every second Wednesday)

Tuesday, September 18, 1:00-3:00...........................Quality Committee Meeting 

                      (and every third Tuesday)

Thursday, September 27, 8:30-11:00........................Spark NH monthly Council Meeting

                              (and every fourth Thursday)

Friday, September 28, 9:00-11:00.............................Workforce and Professional

        Development Committee Meeting

        (and every fourth Friday)

Friday, September 28, 1:00-3:00...............................Committee and Task Force Chairs'


       (and every other fourth Friday)


November - Council Meeting changed to November 29, 8:30-11:00





Links of Interest:




Improving Children's Health Through Federal Collaboration Web: Children's Environmental Health Research, Thursday, August 9, 2012, 4:00pm- 5:30pm EST (2:00pm- 3:300pm MST)

The EPA and NIEHS Children's Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research Centers Program ("Children's Centers") was established in 1998 to explore ways to reduce children's health risks from environmental factors. The long-range goals of the program include understanding how environmental factors affect children's health and promoting translation of basic research findings into intervention and prevention methods to prevent adverse health outcomes. This session will share current research and discuss how the Children's Centers foster research collaborations among basic, clinical, and behavioral scientists with engagement and participation from local communities. Register here.


Engaging the Business Community: Learnings from Maine Early Learning Investment Group: Wednesday August 22, 2012, 10:00am-11:30am EST

Introduction by Donna Overcash, Child Policy Consultant, MCGC/MELIG; led by Steve Rowe, former Maine Attorney General and Lifetime Child Advocate.  RSVP by emailing Kelley Bowley at




"2012 Kids Count Data Book"


Positive Parenting: The National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities is currently featuring an article on positive parenting on their CDC en Espaņol website.  The article highlights information for parents about child development and provides tips for parents to help their children learn and grow. 


"Look Before You Lock": 15 children have already died in 2012 from heat stroke after being left in unattended vehicles.  In 2011, a total of 33 similar deaths were confirmed. The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) is taking an active role in getting the word out about the safe transportation of children.  ACF has teamed up with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Safe Kids USA to promote the "Look Before You Lock Campaign."  Linda Smith, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Early Childhood Development at ACF, speaks to Head Start and child care providers about the importance of double checking cars, vans and buses for children that may have been left behind. You can learn more by watching Linda's webcast and visiting her blog.  For further information about the campaign visit or


Integrated Approach to Child Development: The Policy Lab at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia recently published a brief on the subject of creating an integrated approach to child development.  You may access the brief in PDF form by clicking here


From nectac e-notes: (national early childhood technical assistance center)


New Brief Discusses Technology in Early Education:

The Education Commission of the States recently released the brief "Technology in Early Education: Building Platforms for Connections and Content that Strengthen Families and Promote Success in School".  The brief discusses the growing use of electronic media among young children; the new digital divides between rich and poor, rural and urban children; and what states can do to ensure the thoughtful adoption of new technologies and interactive media by early childhood programs.  (source: The Progress of Education Reform, vol. 13, no.4, August 2012)


Starting Well: Benchmarking Early Education Across the World:

The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), commissioned by the Lien Foundation, has issued a new report, Starting Well: Benchmarking Early Education Across the World(2012).  The report looks at the extent to which 45 countries provide a good preschool environment for children between the ages of three and six, specifically considering the relative availability, affordability and quality of preschool. Some of the key findings show that Finland, Sweden and Norway perform best, while many high-income countries rank poorly (including the U.S, which ranked 24th). The lower ranking for the U.S. is not because quality preschool programs are lacking, but because they are not available or affordable to all strands of society and quality standards vary widely from one area of the country to another.


First Findings from the Kindergarten Rounds of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study:

First-Time Kindergarteners in 2010-2011: First Findings from the Kindergarten Rounds of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 2010-11 (ECLS-K:2011).  Source: National Center for Education Statistics, retrieved July 25, 2012. 


From ReadyNation:


Federal Reserve Chairman Supports Early Childhood:

In a recorded message, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke stated that "Neuroscientists observe that if the first few years of a child's life include support for healthy development in families and communities, the child is more likely to succeed in school and to contribute to society as an adult." His remarks went further to emphasize the critical role early childhood programs play in preparing children for success.


The Benefits of Early Childhood Programs: Sara Watson, director of ReadyNation, provided an interview with the Cost-Benefit Knowledge Bank for Criminal Justice the importance of investing in quality early childhood programs. The interview specifically covered on how these investments can produce strong economic returns to society. Click here to read part 1, or click here to read part 2 of the interview.