November 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!
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
Find us on Google+
Like us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter

Dear Friend of Spark NH,


I am pleased to report that on October 16, 2013, New Hampshire submitted its application for the Race to the Top- Early Learning Challenge grant (RTT-ELC).  Under the RTT-ELC grant, New Hampshire could receive up to $37.5 million over four-years (2014-2017) from the U.S. Departments of Education and Health & Human Services.  The grant is designed to improve the quality of early learning and development programs and close the achievement gap for children with high needs, including those from families experiencing economic hardship, children with disabilities, English language learners, and others who are at risk of school failure.  


Spark NH collaborated with an interagency team from DHHS and DOE and the governor's office.  This group worked for many weeks with a grant writer supported by the Endowment for Health and the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation to create NH's plan to meet the grant goals.  Building on the NH Comprehensive Strategic Plan for Early Childhood coordinated by Spark NH, the state called its proposal the "Children: the Bedrock of the Granite State" plan. New Hampshire submitted 186 pages of narrative and 138 pages of appendices. 


The writing of the grant application gave New Hampshire an important opportunity to create a road map to build a stronger early childhood system for our state to improve the lives of young children and their families. Whether NH is awarded the grant or not, the process of writing it significantly advances cross sector collaboration and brings us closer to achieving the goal that all NH  children and their families are healthy, learning, and thriving, now and in the future.


Here is the link to the NH Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge Grant application and appendices.


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 - September 27, 2013 

The WPD Committee discussed the recommendations in the Early Childhood Family Support and Health Higher Education Inventory, based on the report by Michael Kalinowski of UNH.  The Committee also received a progress report about NH's application for the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge.  The Governor's Office will make the final decision about whether an application will be submitted by the October 15 deadline.


Family Partnership and Engagement Task Force - October 1, 2013

The Task Force was informed that a letter of intent was submitted to the Kellogg Foundation for a grant that would fund a 3 year pilot project in Nashua. The Task Force also reviewed the "Protocol for Parent Feedback" and decided that committees should not be contacting parent groups directly, but should be speaking to the Task Force first so that these groups do not get contacted multiple times by committees. The next step is for the Task Force to decide if they want to encourage committees to contact parent groups on a regular basis or wait until committees identify a need for information. 


Quality Committee - October 15, 2013

The Quality Committee welcomed Kristy Woods from CCLU, who stepped in for Melissa Clement. The group discussed results of outreach to the field regarding the TQRIS standards and definition of "quality early childhood program." Feedback was overwhelmingly positive. Changes will be made based on input. A final definition will be presented to Spark NH for endorsement. The group also discussed the implications of the RTT/ELC application for the committee and determined next steps for our work.


Executive Committee - October 21, 2013

The Executive Committee discussed the Spark NH budget and the responsibilities that will be expected of the new treasurer. The committee was updated on the progress of planning the Early Childhood Summit that is scheduled for November, as well as what is being done to prepare the committee chairs to take on more responsibility.

Upcoming Meetings 

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



Friday, November 1, 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)





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

                                                                                       (every 1st Monday)


Tuesday, December 3, 1-2:30.......................Family Partnership and Engagement                                                                                                      Task Force (every 1st Tuesday)


Thursday, December 5, 10-12.......................Communications Committee

                                                                                     (every 1st Thursday)


Friday, December 6, 2-4...............................Evaluation Committee 
                                                                                      (every 1st Friday) 


Monday, December 9, 8:30-11 ....................Monthly Council Meeting

                                                                                      (usually every 4th Thursday)


Tuesday, December 10, 8:30-10 ..................Policy Committee 

                                                                                     (every 2nd Tuesday)


Tuesday, December 10, 11:30-1:30 .............Executive Committee

                                                                                    (every 2nd Tuesday)


Tuesday, December 17, 1-3..........................Quality Committee

                                                                                      (every 3rd Tuesday)


Upcoming Events, Workshops and Webinars


Learn How Communities are Collaborating for Young Children & Families: New Survey Findings from CSSP's Early Childhood-L.I.N.C. Project 

November 12, 2013, 1:00-2:00pm

This webinar will address: Why is a community-based early childhood strategy important?Where is it happening and what does it look like? What are pioneering communities learning? What more do we need to know and do to accelerate improved child and family outcomes in communities across the nation?

Register for webinar here 


Links of Interest 

This article from The New York Times discusses how the best way to address American economic inequality is to focus on early education programs. Early intervention programs, such as home visitation programs are important, and research has shown "there was a 59 percent reduction in child arrests at age 15 among those who had gone through the [Nurse-Family Partnership home visitation] program." 

This report by ten of the nation's leading early childhood academics, including the Society for Research in Child Development and Child Trends, talks about the impacts that large-scale public preschool programs can have on children's early learning. The report also highlights how quality preschool education is a profitable investment, how quality preschool education can benefit middle-class children as well as disadvantaged children, and about the long-term benefits that occur despite convergence of test scores. 

This article, included in the National Governors Association monthly newsletter, talks about the importance of English literacy and vocabulary in the early years. A third-grade teacher describes her teaching strategy for English language learners that encourages academic language into the classroom at every available opportunity. This strategy supports findings that "students who are proficient readers by third grade have a better chance to graduate from high school and will eventually lead more financially stable lives."  

The Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center shared this report, published by the Alliance for Early Success and Child Trends. The report complements the Alliance's Birth Through Age Eight State Policy Framework, a collective work of more than 150 experts that builds on decades of research and theory identifying the essential supports needed for children's development. The framework emphasizes health, family support, and learning as critical policy areas, and standards, assessment practices, and accountability systems as critical foundations to implement the policies. This new report provides the evidence base for the framework. 

The Annie E. Casey Foundation has updated the KIDS COUNT Data Center, making it easier to use. The Data Center has an improved search function, easier tools to make maps and charts and better ways to customize and share materials on social media. Data are available for the nation and for states, as well as for many cities, school districts, counties and congressional districts. 

The Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center shared this brief from the National Center for Research on Early Childhood Education. The brief summarizes findings from a study that examined the way children's engagement with teachers, peers, and tasks in preschool was related to gains in self-regulation skills. Results indicate that children's positive engagement with teachers was related to increases in compliance and executive control, active engagement in classroom activities was linked with gains in emotion management skills, and a combination of positive teacher and task engagement was related to increases in self-regulation. There were no main effects showing that positive engagement with peers during preschool was linked to the development of self-regulation skills. 

This article from the Concord Monitor announces the four year $2 million grant that the Concord School District has received to improve behavioral and mental health services for students. The article states that this grant "is part of an $8.6 million federal grant awarded to the state that will benefit up to 10,000 children in four years." 

In Finland, The Smithsonian magazine reports that "there are no mandated standardized rankings, no comparisons or competition between students, schools or regions...schools are publicly funded...the people in the government agencies running them, from national officials to local authorities, are educators, not business people, military leaders or career politicians."  All of these factors contribute to the 93% graduation rate from academic or vocational high schools in Finland. 

This article from The New York Times discusses research by Anne Fernald, a psychologist at Stanford University, that shows children 18 months old who are from wealthier homes can identify pictures of simple words much faster than children from low-income families. This language gap keeps getting larger, and it is very difficult to undo. These findings support the need "to increase access to high-quality child care and prekindergarten classes and to invest in programs for children from birth through age 5." 

This series of videos was recorded at the National Summit on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). The summit was co-hosted by the Institute for Safe Families and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in May 2013. 

The Connecticut Early Childhood Education Cabinet shared this report that highlights the role of screening in a comprehensive approach to school readiness. According to the report, national estimates show that about half of the children who begin kindergarten are not ready for school due to health, developmental and behavioral concerns. 

The National Center for Children in Poverty has created this is a guide for policymakers that includes research on preschool through grade 3 parent engagement, opportunities for states to strengthen parent engagement and recommendations for policymakers on how to promote parent engagement.