October 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,


Happy Second Birthday Spark NH

On September 27, Spark NH celebrated its second birthday.  Looking back on the past two years, I am astounded by how much we've accomplished in so little time.  Since Spark NH's launch, hundreds of volunteers have donated thousands of hours in Spark NH Committees.  Each committee contributed greatly to efforts to improve the lives of New Hampshire's young children and their families, and though the work is far from done,  we have created wonderful tools  that will bring us much closer to creating a comprehensive, coordinated early childhood system.  I am thrilled, as I write my final report to the Administration for Children and Families, to be able to show off all our hard work.


Going forward, the Council, 7 committees and one task force that are Spark NH will continue their hard work ensuring our mission: that all New Hampshire children are healthy, learning and thriving now and in the future.


Project LAUNCH

The Project LAUNCH contract with Early Learning NH has been approved by governor and council.  You will recall that Project LAUNCH is a grant program of the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).    Project LAUNCH is a 5 year grant to work on early childhood wellness systems building and prevention.  There is a pilot project in Manchester to increase behavioral health screening for young children, including:

  • Providing screening and assessment in a range of child-serving settings;
  • Building integration of behavioral health into primary care settings;
  • Providing mental health consultation in early care and education;
  • Providing enhanced home visiting through increased focus on social and emotional well-being; and,
  • Providing family strengthening and parent skills training.

Manchester has created a local level Young Child Wellness Council which will soon be staffed by a full time Young Child Wellness Coordinator.  This council has already started to meet and I have had the opportunity to attend these meetings. The direct service staff is located at the Manchester Community Mental Health Center, Child Health Services, Easter Seals, Southern New Hampshire Services Head Start, and Child and Family Services.


At the state level, Spark NH was designated as the Young Child Wellness Council, charged with promoting the wellness of young children birth to age eight by improving the systems that serve them to help all children reach physical, social, emotional, behavioral, and cognitive milestones.  I will serve as a part-time Young Child Wellness Expert to run the Council and continue our systems building work, and we will hire an additional .6 FTE Young Child Wellness Expert with early childhood development, public health and/or behavioral health expertise to provide technical assistance to the local work, form the bridge to the local Council, and help to inform work at the state level. You should have received my announcement of the part-time Young Child Wellness Expert position we're filling which I hope you'll pass along to qualified people you know.


We are thrilled to get started on this exciting project.  There will be much more to tell you as we go forward.


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  


Workforce and Professional Development Committee - August 23, 2013

The WPD Committee discussed the recommendations in the Early Childhood Higher Education Inventory and identified areas for the Early Childhood Higher Education Round table to explore and discuss.  The Committee also received information about the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge and possible priority areas for inclusion in NH's application.  Committee members have the opportunity to offer input about priority areas.  NH has permission from the Governor to develop an application; the final decision about whether an application will be submitted is up to the Governor.


Evaluation Committee- September 6, 2013

The Evaluation Committee talked about the requirements for the Race to the Top application and what options exist for providing an evaluation budget in the application. The committee also looked at the sustainability of Spark NH and with the different reporting requirements for each grant; they discussed methods for more effective management of the system. Finally, the committee discussed the progress of the needs assessment and ways that the committee could help to create the structure for updating the needs assessment in the future.  


Family Partnership and Engagement Task Force- September 10, 2013

The task force discussed what they believed their role within Spark NH should be. The group discussed how they would like to build capacity for Spark NH to connect with family groups around the state. Some of the next steps will be to create a resource guide of organizations that have existing parent groups, a set of protocols that committees can use to encourage family engagement, a set of questions focused on family engagement that can be added to each committee agenda and an 'elevator speech' that can be used to describe the work of Spark NH.


Data Committee- September 13, 2013

The committee met with representatives from ESP Solutions to review and ask questions about the data integration report. Cathy McDowell of theCoos Coalition for Young Children and Families also met with the committee and discussed an opportunity for Spark NH to work with the Coalition to start a local data project in Coos County; the committee expressed interest. Finally, the group reviewed the needs assessment. 


Executive Committee- September 18, 2013

The Executive Committee discussed the progress being made on finalizing the Strategic Plan and the planning for the Early Childhood Summit. The committee also discussed the different grants that Spark NH has applied for, or intends to apply for, which will help sustain the work of Spark NH. Project LAUNCH and ECCS are both moving forward, and the job description for the .6FTE Young Child Wellness Expert position for Project LAUNCH has been released to the public. The Executive Committee needs to fill two open spots on the Council and the nominating Committee is looking to fill positions of chair, Vice Chair and Treasurer on the Council.  

Upcoming Meetings 

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



Tuesday, October 1, 1-2:30..............................Family Partnership and Engagement                                                                                   Task Force (every 1st Tuesday)


Thursday, October 3, 10-12.............................Communications Committee

                     (every 1st Thursday)


Monday, October 7, 2-4...................................Data Committee  

                                                                         (every 1st Monday)


Tuesday, October 8, 8:30-10 ..........................Policy Committee, Plymouth State                                                                                        University, 2 Pillsbury St., Concord

                                                                         (every 2nd Tuesday)


Tuesday, October 8, 11:30-1:30 .....................Executive Committee

                                                                         (every 2nd Tuesday)


Tuesday, October 15, 1-3...............................Quality Committee

                                                                        (every 3rd Tuesday)


Thursday, October 24, 8:30-11.......................Monthly Council Meeting

                                                                        (every 4th Thursday)


Friday, October 25, 9-11................................Workforce and Professional Development                                                                           Committee, (every 4th Friday)



Friday, November , 2-4..................................Evaluation Committee 
                                                                      (every 1st Friday) 


Monday, November 4, 2-4.............................Data Committee  

                                                                      (every 1st Monday)


Tuesday, November 5, 1-2:30.......................Family Partnership and Engagement                                                                                    Task Force (every 1st Tuesday)


Thursday, November 7, 10-12.......................Communications Committee

                                                                      (every 1st Thursday)


Tuesday, November 12, 8:30-10 ..................Policy Committee 

                                                                      (every 2nd Tuesday)


Tuesday, November 12, 11:30-1:30 .............Executive Committee

                                                                      (every 2nd Tuesday)


Tuesday, November 19, 1-3..........................Quality Committee

                                                                      (every 3rd Tuesday)


Friday, November 22, 9-11............................Workforce and Professional Development                                                                          Committee, (every 4th Friday)


Upcoming Events, Workshops and Webinars


Good Mirror, Great Teacher: Using Reflective Technique to Promote Connection and Empathy

October 13, 2013, 8:00 am - 1:00 pm

Keene State College

229 Main Street

Keene, NH

Register for Conference here


New Hampshire Infant Safe Sleep Symposium

October 29, 2013, 8:30 am - 4:00 pm

Auditorium, Department of Health and Human Services

29 Hazen Drive

Concord, NH 03301

For more information, and to register for this free event, click here


The National Governors Association released this report that highlights the importance of increasing third-grade reading proficiency. The report examines the gap that exists between research and policy and describes the five policy actions that governors can take to ensure all children read at grade level by the end of third grade. 

A Strong Start Makes a Difference

The National Women's Law Center reports that in mid-September they, in collaboration with the Strong Start Campaign for Children and MomsRising.org, hosted a jumbo 40-foot version of the Chutes and Ladders game outside of the U.S. Capitol. With participation from members of Congress, the purpose of this event was to highlight the importance of early education. 


I'm the Guy you Pay Later

This article  was included in the Early Childhood Development September Newsletter. It is a report released by Fight Crime: Invest in Kids that shows a proposed state-federal early childhood education partnership could reduce the number of people who are incarcerated nationwide by 200,000 every year and lead to a $75 billion in cost savings over 10 years. 


Changing the Course for Infants and Toddlers: A Survey of State Child Welfare Policies and Initiatives  

The Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center newsletter featured this report from ZERO TO THREE and Child Trends that discusses findings from a 2013 survey of state child welfare agencies about how they address the needs of infants and toddlers who have been maltreated. The report notes that few states differentiate services or timelines for infants and toddlers from those for older children and relatively few have implemented promising approaches to meeting the unique developmental needs of infants and toddlers.


Early Childhood State Policy Profiles  

The Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center newsletter included this updated view of 

state policies that affect the health and well-being of young children in low-income families in the areas of health, early care and education, and parenting and economic supports. The state profiles are products of the National Center for Children in Poverty's Improving the Odds Project for Young Children Project. 


Videos from the National Summit on Hispanic Early Learning 

On September 18, 2013, the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence For Hispanics and the President's Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics hosted a National Summit on Hispanic Early Learning in Miami, FL. This video message from James Heckman, Nobel Prize winning Professor of Education at the University of Chicago, was shown at the summit. Videos of the full event (Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4 / Part 5) can be seen on Miami-Dade College's YouTube channel. Hispanic children represent the fastest growing segment of the nation's population under the age of five, but less than half are enrolled in any early learning program. (ECTA Center eNotes). 


Early Childhood Disaster-Related Resources

In honor of September being National Preparedness Month, the Department of Health and Human Services created this set of resources that contains  activities to help families, early childhood programs, and policy makers prepare for disasters, developmentally appropriate books and games to help children cope after disasters, and State templates and guides for policy makers to use in developing, enhancing, or improving their State plans. (Early Childhood Development September Newsletter).


This research brief, released by ReadyNation  illustrates the correlation between access to early education and future educational success. This document also includes new research from several early childhood programs that clearly demonstrate their success in improving educational outcomes. (Early Childhood Development September Newsletter).


The Raising of America

The Raising of America: Early Childhood and the Future of Our Nation is a 6 part documentary series that explores how a strong start for all kids leads not only to better individual life course outcomes (learning, earning and physical and mental health) but also to a healthier, safer, better educated and more prosperous and equitable nation.  The series is made up of an opening hour-long show followed by 5 supporting 30 minute episodes. Each of the five 30-minute supporting episodes delves into a particular aspect of Early Childhood health and development.  The first episode "Are We Crazy About Our Kids" is available to watch and focuses on early childhood. (Early Childhood Development September Newsletter). 


Raising Smart, Healthy Kids in Every State  

CLASP, along with eight early childhood and public health organizations, has released this report that discusses the early childhood and health benefits of President Obama's plan to expand early education through an increase in federal tobacco taxes. Enacting this early learning proposal with an increase in federal tobacco taxes would eventually provide two million children a year with access to high-quality preschool and prevent 1.7 million kids from becoming smokers. In addition to the clear social, educational and economic benefits of such a significant investment in  early childhood, the president's initiative as designed would have an even larger impact on public health-and move us even further ahead as a country with policies that are good for our children


Using Science to Drive New Approaches to Child Welfare 

The Harvard University Center on the Developing Child has released an additional article to their "Tackling Toxic Stress" series. Written by Carol Gerwin, the article discusses how federal child welfare officials are giving states more flexibility and funding to "enhance caregiving and reduce the adverse experiences that can trigger toxic stress and its damaging lifelong consequences." 


Identify the Signs 

Identify the Signs is a new public education campaign from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. The purpose of this campaign is to educate the public about the warning signs of communication disorders and the importance of early detection.