March 2013 Newsletter
In This Issue
Committee and Task Force Meeting Summaries
Upcoming Meetings
Links of Interest
Spark New Hampshire's website is  Visit it today for up-to-date information about the great work Spark NH is doing to improve early childhood in New Hampshire!
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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,


"So let's do what works, and make sure none of our children start the race of life already behind. Let's give our kids that chance." How exciting it was to hear the importance of early childhood education promoted at the national level in the President's State of the Union address.  It's been wonderful to hear James Heckman, the Nobel Prize winning economist from the University of Chicago speaking in the media around the country about the high rate of return on investment in early childhood.  What a great time to start Spark NH's public awareness campaign about the importance of early childhood development.


Strategic Planning:

The coordinating of the comprehensive strategic plan for early childhood in NH remains the central focus of Spark NH's  current work.  This month Spark committees recommended stakeholders to be included in the strategic planning process. A few committees recruited new members to round out their membership.  Others identified people or groups of people who they felt should be included in the process.  The core strategic planning team is working on a PowerPoint webinar to be used to explain strategic planning work and what we're looking for from stakeholders.  After viewing the webinar, those who want to contribute to the plan will be directed to an online survey that will help to collect their input. 


In April input received from various stakeholders will be incorporated into a draft plan, building on the work done at the stakeholder meeting in November.   The next large stakeholder meeting, to review the draft plan, will be Monday June 3, all day at the Grappone Center in Concord.  

Needs Assessment:

Our needs assessment consultants have been conducting key informant interviews to help them better understand early childhood programs and services in NH and the needs of expectant families as well as children from birth through grade 3 and their families. Information from these interviews in addition to data from surveys the Quality Committee conducted for families and professionals regarding access of families in New Hampshire to early childhood programs and services and other NH data sets will form the basis of the report we will create.  We expect a draft of the report by early April and a final report by May. 


Public Awareness:

Banners, table top displays and brochures promoting healthy brain development and the importance of investment in early childhood are now in production.  Our PowerPoint presentation is complete.  Soon the committee will be working on identifying and training "ambassadors" and "champions" to take the presentation and our materials around the state. 


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 


Executive Committee - February 12, 2013

 The group discussed the strategic planning process and how to coordinate stakeholder feedback.  There was consensus that we should as Council members to distribute materials to their constituencies for feedback.  The Executive Committee is hoping to meet with Governor Hassan's office in late March or Early April.  The group decided that during the strategic planning process, committee and task force reports as well as member presentation should be suspended (probably just March and April).  The group recommended the Council sign on to the ReadyNation pledge.

Communications and Public Awareness Committee- February 7, 2013

Members of the Spark Communication and Public Awareness Committee are currently engaged in the strategic planning process. Stakeholder identification, engagement, and participation in implementation is the charge for the committee in Phase 2. In March the committee will zero-in on stakeholder input and bring a draft to the stakeholder meeting in June. Additional meeting topics included the possible use of an Alignment Task Force to identify specific representatives, from specific sectors, and "test runs" of public information, resource kits, and the tool kit.


Data Committee - February 4, 2013

The Data Committee learned about the current project at the Office of Information Services in which the data from the New Heights, Options, Bridges, and Nexus databases is being integrated into one master database.  CHI attended the meeting to discuss the revised Needs Assessment timeline and the qualitative data being gathered for the final report.   The meeting concluded with a discussion on the possible key stakeholders for the data systems portion of the Strategic Planning matrix.  


Evaluation Committee - February 1, 2013

The Evaluation Committee reviewed the draft Spark NH Member Survey, which will be implemented in early April of this year. Discussion of the draft survey occurred and edits/changes made. The Committee also discussed the Spark NH Strategic Plan and how it will influence the current Spark NH work plan. Evaluation Committee membership was discussed. If anyone feels an individual would be a good fit for the Evaluation Committee, please extend the invitation


Family Partnership and Engagement Task Force - February 13, 2013

The Family Engagement Task Force will be helping to involve families in the strategic planning process.  The task force will vet the presentation being created for stakeholder involvement to make sure it will speak to families.  Members will help to get the presentation out to organizations who work with families to try to get family input.   The group would like more guidance from committees and the Council about the level of family involvement in Spark NH.  Perhaps after the strategic planning process is completed the group can meet with the Council to discuss this.

Policy Committee - February 12, 2013

The Policy Committee extended its monthly meetings due to the work of developing a statewide, comprehensive strategic plan for early childhood in New Hampshire (strategic plan).  After an update from the strategic plan Core Planning Team, the Policy Committee reviewed the timeline for the upcoming phases of the planning process with the consultants from the National Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (NECTAC).   The committee began work on the recommendations for the two infrastructure functions assigned to it specifically: Policy and Funding.  The committee discussed stakeholder involvement in the strategic planning process as well as the specific work of the committee.


Workforce and Professional Development Committee- January 25, 2013

The Committee reviewed the Strategic Planning Process and the responsibilities and timeline for this committee.  We reviewed current committee membership and identified constituencies (including geographic areas) that we would like to be better represented, as well as a plan for inviting representatives of those constituencies to join us.  We discussed stakeholder groups whose input will be important to the development of the comprehensive strategic plan and identified some ways in which their input can be sought.  The initiatives we have already undertaken-the PORTAL and the Early Childhood Higher Education Inventory-are both well underway and will be progressing in the next month.

Upcoming Meetings 

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


March  Meetings:


Friday, March 1, 2:00 - 4:00 pm.................................Evaluation Committee Meeting 

                                    (every first Friday)

Monday, March 4, 2:00 - 4:00 pm..............................Data Committee Meeting

                (every first Monday)

Thursday, March 7, 10:00 am - 12:00 pm................... Communications and Public Awareness 

                Committee Meeting (every first 

                Thursday) At 103 North State Street,     


Tuesday, March 12, 8:30 - 11:00 am...........................Policy Committee Meeting    

                          (every second Tuesday)

Tuesday, March 12, 11:30 am - 1:30 pm.....................Executive Committee Meeting 

                                                        (every second Tuesday)

Wednesday, March 13, 1:00 - 2:30 pm.......................Family Partnership 

                and Engagement Task Force

                Meeting (every second Wednesday)

Tuesday, March 19, 1:00 - 3:00 pm............................Quality Committee Meeting 

                                                                                      (every third Tuesday)

Wednesday, March 20, 9:00 - 11:00 am......................CCDF Federal Plan Task Force Meeting 

                (every third Wednesday in the        

                Sauna Conference Room, 

                Thayer Building, 97 Pleasant 

                Street, Concord)

Friday, March 22, 9:00 - 11:00 am..............................Workforce and Professional 

                           Development Committee 

                 Meeting (every fourth Friday)

Thursday, March 28, 8:30 - 11:00 am..........................Monthly Council Meeting  (every fourth 




April Meetings:


Monday, April 1, 2:00 - 4:00 pm..................................Data Committee Meeting (every first 


Thursday, April 4, 10:00 am - 12:00 pm.......................Communications and Public 

                                      Awareness Committee                  

                                      Meeting (every first Thursday)

Friday, April 5, 2:00 - 4:00 pm.....................................Evaluation Committee Meeting(every 

                                                          first Friday)

Tuesday, April 9, 8:30 am - 3:30 pm............................Policy Committee Meeting  

                                                          (usually every second Tuesday

                                       8:30 - 11:00 am)

Tuesday, April 9, 3:30 -5:00 pm...................................Executive Committee Meeting 

                                      (every second Tuesday 

                   11:30 am - 1:30 pm)

Wednesday, April 10, 1:00 - 2:30 pm...........................Family Partnership and 

                                                 Engagement Task Force Meeting 

                             (every second Wednesday)

Tuesday, April 16, 1:00 - 3:00 pm.................................Quality Committee Meeting 

                                       (every third Tuesday)

Wednesday, April 17, 9:00 - 11:00 am..........................CCDF Federal Plan Task Force 

                   Meeting in the Sauna Conference 

                   Room in the Thayer Building, 97 

                   Pleasant St., Concord

Thursday, April 25, 8:30 - 11:00 am..............................Monthly Council Meeting (every 

fourth Thursday)

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

                                                                                Development Committee (every                                                                                           fourth  Friday)


Links of Interest 


Upcoming Events:  


Strengthening Families Summit: Moving Theory to Practice
March 18, 2013 8:30 am - 4:00 pm at Grappone Conference Center in Concord, NH
Strengthening Families is a research-based, cost-effect strategy developed by the Center for the Study of Social Policy to increase family strengths, enhance child development and reduce child abuse and neglect.  CEUs in Marriage and Family Therapy will be offered.  Professional Development hours will be offered from the NH Department of Education and the NH Department of Health and Human Services, DCYF Child Development Bureau. 


Maternal Depression: the Impact on Mother, Child and the Relationship
April 11, 2013 6:30 - 8:30 pm at Rochester Elks Club in Rochester, NH
Hosted by the Early Education & Intervention Network of NH (eein)
Learn to identify maternal depression, support the parent-infant relationship, and  help the struggling mother and her child. Learn about concrete tools, intervention strategies, resources and treatment. You can make a difference.  To learn more and register visit . 

Granite State Futures

The Granite State Future project is an opportunity for NH residents to have a say in the future of our communities--talking to each other about what is important to them as families, as residents, as workers, as employers, as a community. What do we want to protect? What do we need that we don't have?  How do we best use the resources that we have? What do we want our future and our children's future to look like here in NH?  

Click here for the schedule of Regional Community Conversations
Click here to learn what the Granite State Futures project is all about. 




School Breakfast Reaching More Children in New Hampshire; Still More Work To Do - An update from the Children's Alliance of New  Hampshire on the NH School Breakfast Scorecard published by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC). 


This month, the Fall to Fall (F2F) Series focuses on Family Well-being and Families as Learners. It features resources that may support a family's health, earnings, and ability to reach life goals. The series also highlights resources that are useful for staff supervision, reflection, and program planning. The three resources featured this month include: Asset Mapping for Head Start Providers; Interactive Homelessness Lessons; Reflective Supervision: A Tool for Relationship -Based EHS Services. 


The following articles were disseminated by the NGA: 


The Common Core State Standards: Caution and Opportunity for Early Childhood Education- This paper discusses potential tensions between implementing Common Core State Standards and best practices in early learning. The publication voices concerns about the possibility that an intense focus on math and English language arts may mean less time and attention to other critical domains of development, such as social-emotional development and approaches to learning. It also stresses the importance of implementing the Common Core in developmentally-appropriate ways. 


Kindergarten Entry Assessment (KEA): A recent brief from the BUILD Initiative highlights trends and promising practices from states' Race to the Top - Early Learning Challenge applications. The brief provides information about state plans to develop KEAs, train teachers, use KEA data, engage families, and work with special needs children. It also includes key considerations that states should keep in mind as they implement KEAs.

Math in a Child's World: Policy and Practical Challenges for Preschool Mathematics- 

This report looks at the work that has been done in California on the issue of early math development.  It summarizes the major challenges and recommendations related to ECE teacher preparation, professional development, curriculum materials, and aligning relevant ECE and K-12 policies, such as standards and assessments. While the report focuses on California, their findings can be relevant to other states.   


From Birth to Graduation and Beyond: Aligning Best Practices in Educational Systems to Improve Learning Outcomes-   This report features state and local efforts to better support children's learning and developing by increasing coordination and collaboration between early learning and K-12 stakeholders. Case studies illustrate how a cross-sector approach to state governance, professional development, data collection and use, and delivery of social services can improve how ECE programs and schools serve children and families.


Getting Started: Incorporating Head Start Data in an SLDS- Even though states typically have limited roles in Head Start programs, they can take steps to incorporate data about these programs' children and teachers into their longitudinal education data systems. This brief describes examples of what states have done to start a data integration process, including defining a vision and engaging stakeholders.


Common Education Data Standards (CEDS)- The National Center for Education Statistics has released the latest version of CEDS, including new data elements about early learning organizations, staff, and child assessments. 


Dual Language Learner Teacher Competency Report The Alliance for a Better Community, in collaboration with the National Council of La Raza, developed professional competencies for early childhood teachers who work with dual language learners, focusing on language and literacy and socio-emotional development.


Early Childhood Risk and Reach in Louisiana- A number of states have published "risk-and-reach" reports that combine the prevalence of targeted risk factors among young children and their families with this population's participation rates in key early childhood programs. This report from Louisiana's Early Childhood Advisory Council, does such an analysis. 
On-Site Approaches to Quality Improvement in Quality Rating and Improvement Systems: Building on the Research on CoachingResearch conducted by Child Trends uncovered five key characteristics of coaching that are associated with improved teaching practices and/or child outcomes: clearly defined goals, deliberate selection and preparation of coaches, ongoing support and monitoring for coaches, strong linkage between coaching and professional development experiences (e.g., coursework), and appropriate duration and intensity. 


The following articles were disseminated by NECTAC E-notes:


Solving Social Ills Through Early Childhood Home VisitingThe Pew Home Visiting Campaign recently published 12 new reports of home visiting research. The reports highlight those program elements that are essential to success, ways to improve existing models, and factors to consider in tailoring home visiting to local contexts and particular target populations. 


Social Skills TrainingThe What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) has released a new report on the effectiveness of Social Skills Training for preschool children with disabilities. They found that social skills training has positive effects on social-emotional development and behavior and no discernible effects on cognition for children with disabilities in early education settings. 
Early Learning: Kindergarten Online Database - The Education Commission of the States launched this updated database which provides state policy information.  Information includes: whether a Child Must Attend Kindergarten, Compulsory School Age, Kindergarten Readiness Assessments, Curriculum, Minimum Required Days/Hours, and much more. 


Head Start Launches Pilot Project to Encourage Innovation in Birth to 5 EducationThe Office of Head Start is launching a pilot funding opportunity in five communities to provide a comprehensive birth-to-5 Head Start / Early Head Start program, including services for expectant families. This new funding opportunity gives applicants flexibility to create a seamless birth-to-5 program incorporating both Head Start and Early Head Start funds. 
Talking Points: Head Start and Refugee Provider Communication Guide The Office of Head Start's National Center on Cultural and Linguistic Responsiveness (NCCLR) and Bridging Refugee Youth and Children's Services (BRYCS) recently developed a guide to help support refugee families in Head Start. This guide is a collaboration toolkit designed to promote effective partnerships between Head Start and Refugee Resettlement agencies.
Early Childhood Education as an Essential Component of Economic Development A new report from the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, discusses research findings on early childhood education programs and discusses how the universal provision of high quality early childhood education programs can make significant positive contributions to economic development, as well as general social well-being.