October 2012 Newsletter
In This Issue
Committee and Task Force Meeting Summaries
Upcoming Meetings
Links of Interest
SparkNH.org will be live in mid-September! 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 lmilliken@sparknh.org
Spark NH 
2 Delta Drive
Concord, NH 03301
Tel: (603) 226-7900
Fax: (603) 226-7290
Find us on Google+
Like us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter

Dear Friend of Spark NH,


Happy Birthday Spark NH! On September 7, 2011, Governor Lynch issued the Executive Order enacting Spark NH and on September 28, 2011 we held our inaugural meeting.  One year later, 7 committees and 4 Task Forces are going strong, working on bettering many aspects of the early childhood system in New Hampshire.  Spark NH continues to bring together early childhood experts, parents, and other members of the community to collaborate on better coordinating the early childhood system in New Hampshire.


One recent tangible product of this collaboration is that New Hampshire has been awarded the SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) 2012 Project LAUNCH cooperative Agreements for Linking Action for Unmet Needs in Children's Health (LAUNCH).  The Maternal and Child Health Section (MCH) of the New Hampshire Division of Public Health was the applicant and called together a collaborative team to work on the proposal. 


Project LAUNCH brings up to $850,000 a year to New Hampshire for up to 5 years to work on early childhood wellness systems building and prevention.  Most of the funds are allocated for an important pilot project in Manchester which would increase behavioral health screen for young children, including:

-Increased screening and assessment in a range of child-serving settings;

-Integration of behavioral health interventions into primary care settings;

-Increased identification and treatment of behavioral health issues in child care and Head Start;

-Improved social and emotional well-being of young children through enhanced home visiting services; and Improved families' ability to support the multi-dimensional needs of their children through training and education. 


At the state level, the project requires a "Young Child Wellness Council" which is nearly identical to Spark NH.  With the Governor's consent, MCH's proposal identified Spark NH the state's Young Child Wellness Council. 


For Spark NH, the project will cover 40% of my salary as the "Young Child Wellness Expert as well as some support staff time and supplies.  There will also be a 60% Young Child Wellness Expert to help coordinate the project with me.  Therefore the receipt of the Project LAUNCH funds will be the first step toward Spark NH's ongoing sustainability!  Much thanks to MCH for being such a wonderful collaborative partner. 


Finally, I am pleased to announce that after many hours of hard work and collaboration, the Spark NH website, www.SparkNH.com is live.  On the website you will find resources about early childhood, information on Spark's committees and task forces, ways to get involved with Spark NH and much more.  Spark NH is also plugged into Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus.  Please "like," "follow" and join us on these social media sites to get the latest updates about what Spark NH is doing to improve early childhood systems in New Hampshire.


              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 October 3, 2012)


Executive Committee - September 11, 2012
The Committee debriefed the last Council meeting and discussed the Market Rate Survey presentation. A brief update on Strategic Planning ensued. The idea of a large stakeholder meeting/annual celebration was endorsed. Money is budgeted for this and a planning task force will convene. There is hope to increase public participation at Council meetings. Constituents' knowledge of Spark NH might be evaluated.Officer elections were discussed and voting will take place in October. November's Council meeting is changed to November 29 and December's meeting is cancelled. Work plan was updated.


Communications and Public Awareness Committee- September 6, 2012

Members of the Communications and Public Awareness Committee were provided an overview of the updated "Bedrock of Granite State" Power Point. We talked about the NH Forum on the Future, and discussed Davey Strategies FAQs and how we can utilize them as a tool in our messaging. The large banners were approved; the estimate should be received soon. Tom Raffio will be bringing together business leaders who met in 2011 to advise Spark NH on early childhood messaging. We will make a request to the Council to approve funding for promotional materials for the new website launch.


Data Committee- September 10, 2012

CHI (our Needs Assessment consultant) reported that they have been mining New Hampshire's early childhood data and identifying indicators. They will narrow these based on ease of accessibility, and issues of whether the indicator is representative. They will then match indicators to the committee's priority statements and at the next meeting the committee will need to narrow those to 36 total indicators. Members of the Council and committees will be invited to participate in this meeting. NH CAN is pursuing the creation of a children's budget and would welcome input from the committee. The Quality Committee reported on their survey and SASID Task Force on their work.


SASID Task Force - September 13, 2012

The group continued to write and refine the SASID pilot project plan. The next steps will be to finish the plan and get the okay from the Department of Education to go forward with the project.


Evaluation Committee - September 7, 2012

The Quality Committee is finishing up a survey on coordination and collaboration and will provide the Evaluation Committee with a draft later this month for feedback prior to implementation. The Evaluation Committee also reviewed the membership survey, specifically designed for Council Members and made several changes. The 2nd draft of the survey will be ready for review prior to the October Evaluation Committee Meeting in time for implementation in mid- October. Based on the feedback of the data collected in October, follow-up interviews may be conducted via phone calls in November.  


Family Engagement Task Force - September 12, 2012

The Family Engagement Task Force completed their survey for parents about how they could be involved in Spark NH. They will be completing a cover letter to accompany the survey. The task force split up responsibility for contacting parent groups across the state about Spark NH and how they can help us to engage parents. They will also be distributing information for Spark NH committees and task forces on their activities enabling connection with parents and will ask the committees to add a question to each agenda about how they are involving families in the work the committee or task force is doing.


Policy Committee - September 11, 2012

The strategic planning Core Planning Team is answering the process questions of "How" to complete the process of the strategic plan. The Team members are the Spark NH Council officers (Ellen Wheatley, Chair, Erika Argersinger, Vice Chair, Debra Armfield, Treasurer), a co-chair of the Policy Committee (Jeanne Agri), the state Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems (ECCS) coordinator (Deirdre Dunn), and the Spark NH director (Laura Milliken). ECCS is the foundation of the upcoming planning work. NECTAC has made great progress developing a matrix framework of other NH entities' strategic plans. A meeting to include the broader stakeholder community will occur in November.


Quality of Early Childhood Programs and Services Committee - September 18, 2012

The Quality Committee is completing and preparing to disseminate two surveys, one for professionals and one for families, on early childhood programs and services, with a focus on access to services, referral and coordination. The committee reviewed and edited the latest drafts of the surveys, which will be finalized on September 24th Committee for input. Additionally, Quality Committee members will review the draft of the NH Kindergarten Readiness Indicators and provide feedback through the Department of Education website.


Workforce and Professional Development Committee - August 24, 2012

The Committee Co-Chair brought the PORTAL professional development and job opportunity website and Higher Education Inventory proposals to the Executive Committee.  the Executive Committee approved bringing a funding request for the PORTAL to t he full Council.  The Spark NH council approved funding for the PORTAL project.  Because the Higher Education Inventory proposal only covers early childhood education/special education, the Executive Committee was concerned about the limitations of this inventory, as it would not cover the health and family support domains.  The Executive Committee challenged the Workforce and Professional Development committee to create a plan for completing higher education inventories for health and family support. 


Website Design Taskforce- September 12, 2012

The committee reviewed feedback on the website and discussed possible changes to address critiques and problem areas.  The main critique was that viewers are unsure of what Spark NH actually is and that the puprose of the webpage is unclear.  In response to this, the wording in the "About Us" section has been changed and pages detailing ways for users to become involved with Spark have been added to the site.  The committee agreed to recommend several changes to Spark's communication policy that are website specific.


Upcoming Meetings 

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


October Meetings


Tuesday, October 16, 1:00-3:00................................Quality Committee (and every 3rd

       Tuesday, 1-3)

Wednesday, October 17, 9:00-11:00.........................CCDF Federal Plan Task Force (and

                              every 3rd Wednesday, 9-11)

Thursday, October 25, 8:30-11:00.............................Spark NH monthly Council (and

                       every 4th Thursday, 8:30-11)

Thursday October 25, 1:00-3:00................................Committee and Task Force Chairs' 

Meeting (usually every other fourth Friday)

Friday, October 26, 9:00-11:00..................................Workforce and Professional

                       Development Committee (and 

every 4th Friday, 9-11)

Friday, October 26, 11:00-12:30................................SASID Task Force   


November Meetings:


Thursday, November 1, 10:00-12:00.............Communications Committee meeting (and

                          every first Thursday)

Friday, November 2, 2:00-4:00.......................Evaluation Committee Meeting (and every

                   first Friday.)

Monday, November 5, 2:00-4:00...................Data Committee Meeting (and every first


Tuesday, November 13, 9:00-10:30...............Policy Committee Meeting (and every

                           second Tuesday)

Tuesday, November 13, 11:30-1:30...............Executive Committee (and every second


Wednesday, November 14, 1:00- 2:30..........Family Partnership and Engagement 

   Task Force (and every second Wednesday)

Tuesday, November 20, 1:00-3:00.................Quality Committee (and every third 


Wednesday, November 21, 9:00-11:00..........CCDF Federal Plan Task Force (and every

                    third Wednesday)

Thursday, November 29, 8:30-11:00...............Spark NH monthly Council Meeting 

                           (usually every fourth Thursday), at Granite

                           State College Monadnock Room, 25 Hall

            Street, Concord

Friday, November 30, 9:00-11:00....................Workforce and Professional Development

     Committee meeting (usually every fourth 


Links of Interest 




Part 1- Tax Credits: What Families Need to Know

Tuesday, October 16 at 1:00 pm EST


This webinar will cover:

  • Basic information about valuable federal and state tax credits for families, including:
    • The federal EITC, which is worth up to $5,751 for low- and moderate-income families with children
    • The federal Child Tax Credit, which is worth up to $1,000 per child
    • The federal Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, which is worth up to $2,100 for families with child care expenses
    • Similar state credits
    • A few key tips for sharing information about tax credits with families


Part 2- Tax Credits Outreach Made Easy: Tips & Tools for Advocates

Tuesday, October 23 at 1:00 pm EST


This webinar will unveil NWLC's brand-new, updated, easy-to-use Tax Credits Outreach Toolkit and will provide you with:

  • Free outreach materials
  • Information to help you connect with local coalitions
  • Ways to find free tax preparation services in your community
  • Some simple but successful techniques for spreading the word about tax credits


Register today! These webinars are free, but participants must register separately for each in advance. A recording of each webinar will be emailed to all registrants within a few days of its conclusion.

In addition to the webinars, you can also sign up to be one of our community partners. Community partners receive customized resources that make it easy to spread the word about tax credits to eligible families in your community, as well as technical assistance on issues relating to tax credits outreach activities. 


Early Childhood Data Collaborative (ECDC) Webinar

October 16 at 11:30 am EST


This webinar will discuss state approaches to improving data systems for early learning and highlight promising practices in Illinois and Massachusetts.  You can register by clicking here; Toll: +1 (914) 339-0021; Access Code: 875-123-471; Audio PIN: Shown after joining the meeting.


Professional Development Topics for State Early Childhood Leadership

October 17 at 3:00 pm EST


This webinar is the second in a series for State early childhood teams. The presentation will explore how States and Territories use planning and policy to create progressive credentials for the early childhood and school-age workforce. Participants will hear about key strategies to develop and support portable credentials and degrees: core knowledge and competencies, professional standards, higher education accreditation, and articulation. To reserve your seat, please click here.


Upcoming Events:


Fall/Winter Early Childhood Development and Literacy Workshops:

UNH Institute on Disability


Professional Development Center, 56 Old Suncook Road, Concord, NH

$65.00 registration fee per workshop.

Sponsored by the National Center on Inclusive Education, three different workshops on Literacy and Social Emotional Development, Literacy Interventions and Child Development are offered at various dates and times.  For more information, call (603) 228-2084.  To register, go to www.iod.unh.edu/events.


Child Care Aware Regional Conference:

October 27 from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm

Rivier University, 29 Clement Street, Nashua, NH

$45.00 registration fee, registration closes October 20.

Questions? Call 1-855-939-1751 or (603) 578-1386 ext. 312 (Tracy Pond or Laurie Conrad)

For more information, including workshop descriptions, please click here.



Articles of Interest:


Expanding Access to Early Head Start: State Initiatives for Infants and Toddlers at Risk

CLASP and ZERO TO THREE (ZTT) released this new report which

highlights current state initiatives to expand and enhance Early Head Start (EHS) services for infants, toddlers, and their families.

The Urban Institute published a new report which looks at the share of newborns who are born poor, family characteristics that relate to poverty, and the adult outcomes of growing up in poverty. The report finds that over the past 40 years, 16 percent of children were born to poor parents, and that nearly half of infants who were born into poverty remained poor for half of their childhoods, or grew up persistently poor. 

When a Headline Isn't News: Child Poverty Persists

A blog published by the Huffington Post which discusses possible ways policy makers should respond to the persistent rates of child poverty in the U.S.


Data Finder

CLASP's DataFinder tool provides up-to-date national and state-level data on poverty, child demographics, and working families. Users can compare data over time and across states. 


Advancing the Language Skills of Young Latino Children

A new brief from New Journalism on Latino Children, offers an overview of approaches to teaching English to young Latino children. Currently, over 20 percent of U.S. children entering kindergarten are of Latino heritage, and oftentimes Latino children enter school with weaker math and English pre-literacy skills compared to their non-Latino peers. This new brief examines: the impact of quality preschool on Latino English language learners; 3 approaches to English language instruction; and, how quality can enhance early learning. 


School-Based Mental Health Services For Immigrant and Refugee Children

From the National Center for Youth Law- "When the mental health needs of young people go unaddressed, their performance in school can suffer.  Immigrant and refugee children often have unique mental health needs as a result of hardships endured in their native countries, during their jounrey to the US, and as they and their families adjust to new circumstances, new roles, and a new culture.  Addressing those needs is crucial to improving their academic performance and, as a consequence, their overall chances for success."


Promoting Continuity of Care in Infant/Toddler Settings: What Can State/ Territory Leaders Do?

From the Infant/Toddler Community of Practice, jointly funded by ACF's Office of Child Care and Office of Head Start- "Continuity of care, including primary caregiving, is critical to enhancing relationships in infant and toddler settings. These early connections fuel important neurological processes that help infants and toddlers explore and learn to regulate their emotions, forming the roots of school readiness. State/Territory leaders have many options through subsidy, quality, and PD and workforce systems to support continuity of care based on their assessment of the best opportunities to do so in their State/Territory."


Ready for Success: Creating Collaborative and Thoughtful Transitions into Kindergarten

A new brief from the Harvard Family Research Project (September 2012), discusses ways of helping to make the transition into kindergarten a positive experience that will serve as a foundation to help children enter school ready for success. The brief highlights promising practices in six states that support a variety of initiatives to ensure successful transitions into kindergarten. 


NGA Center White Paper on the Governor's Role in Aligning ECE and K-12 Reforms:

"To increase student achievement, more states are pursuing reforms in both early care and education (ECE) programs and K-12, but state leaders are often not coordinating these reform initiatives.  A new NGA white paper, Governor's Role in Aligning Early Education and K-12 Reforms: Challenges, Opportunities, and Benefits for Children, discusses six key state policy issues where policymakers can take action to align ECE and K-12 reforms, so that these efforts support and reinforce one another's goals and approaches to education."


New Report on State Plans to Develop Coordinated Early Childhood Data System

A new brief, Developing Coordinated Longitudinal Early Childhood Data Systems: Trends and Opportunities in Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge Applications, from the Early Childhood Data Collaborative (ECDC), analyzes the state RTT-ELC proposals and finds that an overwhelming majority prioritized building and using better data systems to improve early learning outcomes. The ECDC describes seven priorities across state proposals and provide examples of proposed state strategies.


Guide to Funding Comprehensive Services in Child Care and Early Education

CLASP has released a new guide, Putting it Together: A Guide to Funding

Comprehensive Services in Child Care and Early Education (August 2012) by

Christine Johnson-Staub, that is meant to help states look beyond major

sources of child care and early education funding and consider alternative

federal financing sources to bring comprehensive services into early

childhood settings. The guide walks early childhood stakeholders through: the steps of building financing partnerships,critical information and resources related to specific federal funding streams that support comprehensive services for children, funding examples from state and local communities, and technical details on the allowable uses of funding streams to support comprehensive services.


Early Childhood Development and Disability: A Discussion Paper

From the World Health Organization and Unicef- The World Health Organization and UNICEF recently published a new paper, Early Childhood Development and Disability: A Discussion Paper (September 2012). The paper provides an overview of disability in early childhood and underscores the need to strengthen and scale up early childhood development initiatives, in order to ensure that children with disabilities can participate meaningfully in their homes, schools and communities. It is meant to encourage international discussion, planning and action on issues related to disability, early childhood development, and early intervention. 


Savings Now, Savings Later: Smart Early Childhood Programs Pay Off Right Away and in the Long Term

ReadyNation, a project of America's Promise Alliance, recently released a brief examining the savings of early childhood programs. The brief finds that from birth to age 2, home visiting and parent mentoring programs can help reduce costs and result in improved outcomes for children and their parents. 


Practices for Promoting Young Children's Learning in QRIS Standards

In order to evaluate current state QRIS standards on early learning, the National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP) analyzed 23 states' QRIS programs, looking specifically at their standards relating to early learning and development.