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


New Hampshire's Plan for Early Childhood:

If we really want to improve the system of programs and services for expectant parents and children birth through grade three and their families, it's not enough for each of the many early childhood focused agencies and organizations involved in Spark NH to have its own strategic plan. All of us need to work together to make a comprehensive, coordinated plan for bettering the lives of all young children and their families in New Hampshire.  It's Spark NH's job to coordinate this work to create a plan and to help guide its implementation.


This work has kept the Spark NH Council and committees very busy this month.  Committees are involved in creating and refining activities gleaned from the many early childhood related strategic plans in New Hampshire for each function area of the plan (Governance and Leadership, Data Systems, Public Awareness, Professional Development, Policy and Planning, Quality, and Funding). Committees have come up with some great work which has been incorporated into our stakeholder survey and will form the basis of the draft plan.  We have distributed a video and a survey to capture stakeholder feedback.  We are also reaching out to family groups in the state to do small focus groups to get family feedback on what a comprehensive, coordinated early childhood system should look like.


Please mark your calendars for the next large stakeholders meeting on June 3 in Concord.  We'll be presenting the formal draft of the plan at that time.



Public Awareness:

Our banners about the importance of early childhood are in!  We have a set of 6, multicolored, 6 foot tall banners, each delivering a part of the larger message.  The banners come in convenient carrying cases.  We have ordered two more sets of 6 banners so that we can lend them out for display across the state.  Please contact me if you are interested in displaying them at your event.


Our Communications consultant is working with the Communications and Public Awareness Committee to create a logic model for ensuring message consistency within Spark NH and eventually in the early childhood community, training stakeholders to act as spokespeople for the messaging, and getting these messages heard throughout the state.



ReadyNation Pledge


At its March meeting, the Spark NH Council decided to sign on to this pledge:

"We are committed to ensuring all of our nation's children show up for school ready to succeed.

We understand that long-term U.S. economic strength and fiscal sustainability depend on the capabilities of America's workforce.

We agree that our country's workforce pipeline is not producing the employees we need, which can only truly be remedied by starting at the beginning.

We know from extensive research that kids who start off right are more likely to be ready to succeed in school, become part of a highly-skilled workforce, and become productive members of society. Families and communities matter in how children start off in life, and effective public and private investments in young children and their families are a vital educational success and economic growth strategy."


By signing this pledge, you are signaling your belief in the importance of quality early childhood development programs and a commitment to work locally, in your state and/or throughout the nation to make sure children are ready to succeed. However, you are not endorsing a specific policy or program. You are giving ReadyNation permission to list your name on our web site and in other materials as a supporter of this pledge.


The Council felt this was consistent with our mission and vision.   If you or your organization is interested in joining us on the signatories list, you can sign up at  http://www.readynation.org/pledge/ 




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 - March 12, 2013

The committee debriefed the February meeting.  Community Health Institute is expected to have a draft needs assessment report this month. Laura and Jackie met with the Governor's policy directors to discuss the strategic plan. Council will be asked to approve Patty Ewen as treasurer.   A list will be drafted of the organizations Spark NH is associated with for the letterhead.  The committee will ask the Evaluation Committee to wait until May to distribute the survey. Committee recommends changes to the bylaws to add the Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems Grant Coordinator.


Communications and Public Awareness Committee- March 7, 2013

The Communication and Public Awareness Committee reviewed our portion of the Strategic Plan. We looked at it from a systematic perspective, reviewed talking points and messaging, and had a discussion around the development of a public education and marketing plan, use of language in the strategic plan that is consistent with SPARK banners, and how best to promote implementation of the plan. Printed materials will be available for the Celebration of Early Childhood Professional's on April 16th. The webinar that was developed outlining SPARK's strategic planning process will be posted to the website by Laura.


Data Committee - March 4, 2013

CHI provided an update on the Needs Assessment; key informant interviews are almost completed and the data from the Quality Committee survey will be in by week's end.  CHI will have a draft report done by the end of March. Then the committee reworked the major activities for the data portion of the strategic planning matrix.  They altered language, condensed activities and added new activities.  Finally, they discussed DHHS' data integration project, Associate Commissioner Mary Ann Cooney was receptive to Spark's involvement in the project and a meeting will be booked for April. 


Evaluation Committee - March 1, 2013

The Evaluation Committee reviewed the 2nd draft Spark NH Member Survey.  A few changes were made.  Survey to be conducted between April 1, 2013 and April 12, 2013 with 2 reminders sent out before the last day. The Committee also discussed the Spark NH Council Work Plan.  Laura provided an update on where committees are at in terms of the work plan. 


Family Partnership and Engagement Task Force - March 13, 2013

The committee viewed the Strategic Planning PowerPoint and Survey and shared fears that the language used may be too high-level for a wide-array of parents.  The role of parent involvement and input in the strategic plan was discussed and the committee decided a different approach for obtaining family feedback is needed.  Members will convert infrastructure functions to simple, direct questions and will reach out to family groups about conducting informal focus groups at their monthly March or April meeting. The committee discussed parent invitations to the June 3rd Strategic Planning event. 


Policy Committee - March 12, 2013
The committee reviewed and made recommendations of the proposed major activities for funding infrastructure function area.  Goal statements were added for the Policy Committee's two functional areas: Policy & Planning and Funding.  The committee viewed the webinar/video produced and gave positive feedback for all the hard work.  Discussions were focused on ensuring stakeholder input and how best to engage families in the input process.  There was strong support for providing another opportunity for families to participate besides going online or receiving an email.  All committees are urged to complete their strategic planning work by April 5th - a hard deadline.


Workforce and Professional Development Committee- February 22, 2013

Several people have joined the Workforce and Professional Development Committee resulting in expanded representation across early childhood sectors.  To understand the perspective of families with young children regarding professional preparation and ongoing professional development, a subcommittee will review recent parent surveys developed by early childhood programs and services.  The subcommittee will draft a family survey that focuses on family perceptions of professional competencies.  The work of the higher education inventory and PORTAL continue.  The Committee will develop activities for the Early Childhood Strategic Plan at the next meeting.

Upcoming Meetings 

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


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) 


May Meetings

Thursday, May 2, 10:00 am - 12:00 pm........................Communications and Public 
        Awareness Committee (every first 
Friday, May 3, 2:00 - 4:00 pm......................................Evaluation Committee (every first 
Monday, May 6, 2:00 - 4:00 pm...................................Data Committee at Child and Family 
                  Services, 132 North State Street, 
                  Concord (every first Monday, usually 
                  at 2 Delta Drive)
Wednesday, May 8, 1:00 - 2:30 pm.............................Family Partnership and Engagement 
                                                                                                            Task Force (every second Wednesday) 
Tuesday, May 14, 8:30 - 11:00 am................................Policy Committee (every second 
Tuesday, May 14, 11:30 am - 1:30 pm..........................Executive Committee (every second 
Wednesday, May 15, 9:00 - 11:00 am..........................CCDF Federal Plan Task Force, 129 
                                                                    Pleasant Street, Room 211 (every 
                                      third Wednesday)
Tuesday, May 21, 1:00 - 3:00 pm.................................Quality Committee (every third  
Thursday, May 23, 8:30 -11:00 am................................Monthly Council Meeting
Friday, May 24, 9:00 - 11:00 am...................................Workforce and Professional 
                             Development Committee (every 
                             fourth Friday)

Links of Interest 




Zero to Three: State Baby Facts-

"The State Baby Facts present infant and toddler data on good health, strong families, and positive early learning experiences to show how babies are faring in each state. The fact sheets also highlight the important role many federal programs play in supporting babies' healthy development." 


Establishing a Level Foundation for Life: Mental Health Begins in Early Childhood - This report from the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child and available from the Harvard University Center for the Developing Child summarizes "why understanding how emotional well-being can be strengthened or disrupted in early childhood can help policymakers promote the kinds of environments and experiences that prevent problems and remediate early difficulties." 


How Universal Preschool Could Help Working Women: This infographic and accompanying article from The Nation examines the benefits of universal preschool for working mothers.  


The following articles were compiled from the ReadyNation newsletter:


Capitalists for Preschool- This New York Times op-ed piece was written by John E. Pepper, former chairman and CEO of Proctor and Gamble and former chairman of Walt Disney, and James Zimmerman, former chairman and CEO of Macy's. In the piece the businessmen make the case for "why business supports early education, citing the increase in kindergarten readiness and return on investment of high-quality programs." 


Getting the Facts Right on Pre-K and the President's Pre-K Proposal- This policy report, published by the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER), addresses the current criticism of early education.  The article aims to dispel four common myths about preschool education by clearing up misconceptions about preschool's effectiveness and benefits.  On this webpage you can access the full article and a fact sheet.  


 Investing In Kids: A  Blog on Early Childhood Programs and Local Economic Development Policies-  Tim Bartik, senior economist at the Upjohn Institute for Employment Research has written several pieces for his personal blog in which he responds to several recent media articles that have cited inaccuracies about early education. 
"Fade Out" in Context- "One of the common arguments against early education is the idea that all benefits "fade out" shortly after the program ends. In a February 8, 2013 presentation Rob Grunewald of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis explains the idea of this fade out, as well as describing what benefits continue past the early years of school, and into adulthood."


The following articles were compiled from the CLASP newsletter:


CLASP Updated Head Start Data- "Since 2007, CLASP has conducted a yearly analysis of the Program Information Report (PIR) from the Office of Head Start. The PIR collects data on all children and pregnant women who participate in Head Start at any point during the program year."  CLASP recently released their most recent analysis which covers the 2011 PIR data.  Visit the CLASP DataFinder to look up your own state or click here to view the most recent fact sheets.

For Each and Every Child: A Strategy for Education Equity and Excellence - This report published by the Education Equity and Excellence Commission, a federal advisory committee, "calls for strengthening the federal government's role in partnerships with states, districts, and schools to improve the education system."  The report outlines five major recommendations.  

Expanding Home Visiting Research: New Measures of Success- This recently released brief from the Pew Home Visiting Campaign synthesizes the findings of 12 Home Visiting studies.  "These studies look across a range of home visiting models and community programs to assess the impact home visiting programs are having on gains in education, health, and long-term outcomes."


National Status of Child Care Health Consultation 2012- This research brief from the National Training Institute for Child Care Health Consultants analyzes information gathered from a national questionnaire on the current status of state-based child care health consultation systems.  The research brief lays out the research methodology, findings, and recommendations for system improvement. 

The following articles were compiled from NECTAC E-notes

Series of Memos from Harvard's Lead for Literacy Initiative- "Harvard's Lead for Literacy initiative has completed its series of memos for leaders dedicated to children's literacy development from birth to age 9. Lead for Literacy is an initiative of the Language Diversity and Literacy Development Research Group at Harvard. All 16 memos are now available online. Topics range from assessment to professional development to family partnerships."

Abbott Preschool Program Longitudinal Effects Study: Fifth Grade Follow-upNIEER released findings from the latest study of New Jersey's Abbott Preschool Program, which showed that children in the state's most disadvantaged communities who participated in the preschool program made significant gains in literacy, language, math and science through 4th and 5th grade


Making a College Course Matter for Pre-K Professionals: Supports Needed for Success-

A research brief  "recently published by the NCRECE summarizes the results of a study that examined a new course developed to support early childhood professionals in implementing effective teacher-child interactions. The findings suggest that an effective course can be scaled-up and used in different settings when clear supports are put in place to ensure quality delivery."

 Ladders to Literacy Report- "The What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) has released an updated early childhood report on Ladders to Literacy, a supplemental early literacy curriculum composed of 60 activities designed to develop children's print/book awareness, metalinguistic awareness, and oral language skills."  The report found that the program "has potentially negative effects on oral language and no discernible effects on print knowledge, phonological processing, and math for preschool children."