December 2013 Newsletter
In This Issue
Committee and Task Force Meeting Summaries
Upcoming Meetings
Links of Interest
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Director Laura Milliken at
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Concord, NH 03301
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Dear Friend of Spark NH,


On November 18, 2013 the New Hampshire Strategic Plan for Early Childhood was released.  Many early childhood stakeholders in NH were involved in the creation of the plan, which was coordinated by Spark NH with the help of consultants Mary Peters and Martha Diefendorf from the Frank Porter Graham School of Child Development at the University of North Carolina.  In order to build on the strong work that was already done in NH, Spark NH gathered 22 strategic state plans related to early childhood. Over almost a year, we sorted the content and activities specified in these plans by the function areas of the system: Governance, Policy, Early Childhood Data System, Workforce and Professional Development, Communications and Public Awareness, Quality of Early Childhood Programs and Services, and Funding.  Major activities, timelines, and benchmarks were drafted, stakeholders were identified and surveyed to ensure a final plan that represents the many perspectives within our state. Drafts were created, edited by Spark NH Committees, and approved by Governor Hassan.


The plan provides a framework for how to achieve positive outcomes for young children and families. It's a comprehensive plan for the critical period of development from birth through grade 3 - laying out the priorities and activities that will enhance the coordination and alignment of efforts across the health, early learning and family support sectors.  It is intended to provide policymakers, community leaders and citizens with a framework for how New Hampshire can best meet the needs of every child from birth through grade three.


To understand the work in NH to create a coordinated early childhood system, it might help to think about that system as an orchestra. The major sections of our orchestra are the health, early learning and development, and family leadership and support sectors. While these separate sections can certainly play solo parts, we are now asking them to play together to produce something they couldn't do on their own - a true early childhood system for New Hampshire. Fortunately, we have a score to play from - the comprehensive strategic plan. The plan tells us what every part should play.  


Despite having highly skilled professionals who know their parts, we have to recognize that this is a new score, so it will take time to get in sync together. What we do know is that without it, we would be left with a fragmented and incomplete system.  This plan, which requires collaboration in new ways, allows us to create something together that exceeds what any of us could do on our own to ensure our vision: that all New Hampshire children and their families are healthy, learning and thriving, now and in the future.


The New Hampshire Strategic Plan for Early Childhood is available to download at  You may also download an Executive Summary there.



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 - October 25, 2013 

The WPD Committee heard an update about and made final recommendations to the PORTAL site, which is now live.  We thanked Heather Rogers for her work on bringing the PORTAL site through these final stages.  The Committee has now completed three major projects: the PORTAL site; the Early Childhood/Early Childhood Special Education Higher Education Inventory; and the Early Childhood Health and Family Supports Higher Education Inventory.  We agreed that our next project will be to establish a common set of core competencies for all early childhood professionals.


Evaluation Committee - November 1, 2013

The Evaluation Committee reviewed the Spark NH Committee work plans and agreed that the format will be useful to help committees identify the tasks needed to implement each of the activities and achieve the outcomes. There was some discussion about who should update the committee plans and the group agreed that this should be made as easy and automated as possible. The committee spent most of the meeting reviewing the outcomes for goals 1-7 in the work plan and provided feedback for the relevant committees. 


Data Committee - November 4, 2013 

The Data Committee discussed the Race to the Top proposal and briefly discussed what the committee's role would be if NH is awarded the grant. The committee also reviewed the current status of the Needs Assessment. Much of the meeting was spent reviewing the committee's work plan and the committee charge. Adjustments were made to the work plan and the committee charge was updated. 

Communications and Public Awareness Committee - November 7, 2013

The group talked about the ambassador trainings that have taken place around the state. These will continue to be tracked in a database. Regional ambassadors and champions are being targeted and a train-the-trainers model might soon be started. The work plan goals were reviewed and strategies for promoting the PORTAL and the State Plan have begun.  The committee will be moving to bi-monthly meetings, 1.5 hours each, starting in January.


Policy Committee - November 12, 2013

The Policy Committee reviewed the Draft NH Comprehensive Strategic Plan for Early Childhood.  Changes were based on advice from the committee and input by the Office of the Governor.  The plan will be available at  Committee members must know both the full plan and the committee workplan.  The committee reviewed the agenda for the November 18 Summit and discussed the regional discussion time.  The committee will determine the 2014 meeting schedule in December.  The legislative representative on the Council will be invited to join the Policy Committee.  NH's Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge application was submitted.  Committee members are responsible for reading the application.

Quality Committee - November 19, 2013

The Quality Committee welcomed new member Amanda Berry, representing Project LAUNCH. The final definition of quality will be presented to Spark NH Council for endorsement at the 12/9/2013 meeting. Language to begin advertising the definition is being developed.  The Committee is revising its work plan based on committee accomplishments, and goals and activities from the RTT-ELC grant and the NH Comprehensive Strategic Plan for EC.  The committee decided to continue meeting on a monthly basis.


Executive Committee - November 20, 2013

The Executive Committee discussed the remaining steps needed to close out the ARRA grant at the end of November. The committee discussed the Early Childhood Summit that was held on November 18 and overall, they were very pleased with the outcome. The Committee also discussed the Endowment for Health's 2014 Program Year Webinar that included some of Spark NH's public awareness materials to explain their reasoning for adding the "Healthy Development of Young Children" to their priorities. 

Upcoming Meetings 

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



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

                                                               (usually 4th Thursday of every other month)


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

                                                              (every 2nd Tuesday)


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

                                                               (every 3rd Tuesday)



Thursday, January 2, 10-11:30...............Communications and Public Awareness                                                                              Committee (1st Thursday of every other month)


Friday, January 3, 2-4.............................Evaluation Committee 
                                                               (every 1st Friday) 


Monday, January 6, 2-4.........................Data Committee

          (every 1st Monday) 


Tuesday, January 14, 8:30-10 ...............Policy Committee 

                                                               (2nd Tuesday of every other month)


Tuesday, January 14, 11:30-1:30 ..........Executive Committee

                                                               (every 2nd Tuesday)


Tuesday, January 21, 1-3.......................Quality Committee

                                                                (every 3rd Tuesday)


Friday, January 24, 9-11.........................Workforce and Professional Development                                                                           Committee (4th Friday of every other month)


Upcoming Events, Workshops and Webinars


ECE Shared Resources Webinar

Tuesday, January 7, 2014, 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm

For more information and to register, contact Sarah Howard at 226-7900. 


Understanding Your Child's Learning Style

The Parent Information Center is hosting this free workshop that will focus on the different ways children learn and the theory of multiple intelligences.

Thursday, January 9, 2014, 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Sunapee Central Elementary School, 22 School St., Sunapee, NH 

For more information and to register, click here


The 3 "R's" - Your Role, Rights & Responsibilities in the Special Education Process

This free workshop, hosted by the Parent Information Center, will provide participants with an "advocacy toolbox" of information, resources and organizational tools and strategies, and answers to parents' most frequently asked special education questions.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014, 5:30 pm - 8:00 pm

Community Partners, 25 Old Dover Rd., Rochester, NH (Back Entrance)

For more information and to register, click here


Bringing Reggio Home

EEIN is hosting this workshop. Dr. Dottie Bauer will be presenting on The Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education. 

Thursday, January 30, 2014, 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm

For more information and to register, contact Sarah Howard at 228-2040. 



Links of Interest      

Endowment for Health Announces New Strategic Plan 
The Endowment for Health recently released their Strategic Plan for 2014-2018, which includes a new priority on Early Childhood Development. The link above provides you with a copy of the full plan. The Endowment for Health hosted a webinar that reviewed their new plan. You can view the webinar slides here

Strong Start for America's Children Act- Bill Summary
The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education & The Workforce has created a summary of the early childhood education proposal. This is a 10-year initiative to expand and improve early learning opportunities for children across the birth to age 5 continuum. 

On November 12, 2013, the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) published this new report that discusses a number of basic developmental needs that are important to ensure the healthy development of young children. Some of these include: the constant care and support of the adults in children's lives; high-quality nutrition, medical and dental care; ongoing opportunities to learn and socialize; a secure emotional attachment to a caregiver; and safety and stability in their homes, schools and communities. The report provides recommendations and detailed strategies in four primary policy areas: (1) provide health coverage and access; (2) support early social, emotional, and behavioral health; (3) ensure school readiness by age 5; and (4) support parents to ensure children thrive. (Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center eNotes).


What Can Schools do to Build Resilience in their Students? 
After each all-too-common school shooting, violent classroom episode, or student suicide, there is talk about resilience in schools. Why is it that some students bounce back from adversity and others do not? In the Child Trends latest blog post, they look at the components of resilience, strategies that build resilience in schools, and strategies to help students recover from a traumatic event. (Child Trends). 

What low-income parents look for in child care 
This study finds that low-income parents' expectations for child care are lower than most professional standards. This study, conducted by Child Trends' Nicole Forry and others, and published in the Journal of Children and Poverty, also found strong alignment, for the most part, between parents' definitions of high-quality care and their priorities for their most recent child care search. Parents focused less on structured learning opportunities when discussing child care priorities and more on practical features of care. Findings from this study could be used to inform marketing and design of consumer education campaigns, QRIS, and survey development. (Child Trends).       

Highlighting the Positive Development of Minority Children

A new two-page policy brief from the Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) summarizes a number of facts and findings from the research underscoring the importance of focusing on and learning more about the positive development, adaptation and adjustment of minority children, rather than focusing mostly on maladjustment and adversity. The brief summarizes a longer Social Policy Report, Positive Development of Minority Children (2013), by Natasha Cabrera and the SRCD Ethnic and Racial Issues Committee. (Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center eNotes).


The Science of Neglect

The Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University has published this new 6-minute video, which explains how significant neglect can harm to a young child's development, including cognitive delays, impairments in executive functioning, and disruptions of the body's stress response. It also looks at why effective interventions are likely to pay significant dividends in better long-term outcomes in learning, health, and parenting of the next generation. The video provides an overview of  The Science of Neglect: The Persistent Absence of Responsive Care Disrupts the Developing Brain (2012), a working paper by the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child. A  two-page summary is also available. (Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center eNotes).


Zero to Eight: Children's Media Use in America 2013

Common Sense Media has published a new report that is based on the results of a large-scale, nationally representative survey on the media use of children age zero to eight. The study replicated the methods used in an earlier 2011 study and documents how children's media environments and behaviors have changed since then. See this infographic for highlights. (Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center eNotes).


First Concern to Action Tool Kit 

Autism Speaks has developed a First Concern to Action Tool Kit (2013), which is meant to provide families of children under the age of five with: An overview of early child development; Guidance on what to do if they have a concern about their child's development and; Information about obtaining an evaluation for their child's development and treatment options, if needed. The kit is also available in Spanish. (Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center eNotes). 


Five Things to Know about America's Infants and Toddlers 

Child Trends and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation released this comprehensive indicators-based portrait of the 12 million infants and toddlers (ages birth through two years) in the U.S. Drawing on emerging developmental science and new data sources, the report provides a revealing look at this most fragile, and most promising, stage of life. 


Number and Characteristics of Early Care and Education (ECE) Teachers and Caregivers: Initial Findings from the National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE)

The Administration for Children & Families has released this report that describes the ECE workforce data developed in the NSECE. The survey focuses on individuals providing direct care and education for children birth through five years and not yet in kindergarten. 


The First Eight Years

The Annie E. Casey Foundation has published a new analysis of 13,000 young children tracked from kindergarten entry through 3rd grade, using data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten. The analysis finds that by 3rd grade, only 36% of the children were on track in cognitive development, 56% in physical well-being, 70% in social and emotional growth, and 74% in level of school engagement. The analysis also found disparities between the overall group's well-being and that of black children, Hispanic children, and children living in poverty. (Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center eNotes).


More than Baby Talk

This new resource, published by the FPG Child Development Institute and written by N. Gardner-Neblett and K.C. Gallagher, describes ten practices that early childhood teachers can use to foster language and communication skills among infants and toddlers. The guidelines are based on the latest research findings on optimal adult-child interactions for promoting strong language and communication skills among young children. (Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center eNotes).


New "Backpack Connection" Resources from TAC SEI

The Technical Assistance Center on Social Emotional Intervention for Young Children (TACSEI) has recently added multiple new handouts to the Backpack Connections Series to help teachers and parents/caregivers work together to enhance young children's social emotional skills and reduce challenging behavior. New handouts have been added in the following categories: Emotions, Routines and Schedules, and Addressing Behavior. Backpack Connection handouts can be sent home when a new strategy or skill is introduced in the classroom to inform parents about what their child is learning at school and to provide specific ideas on how to use the strategy or skill at home. (Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center eNotes).  


Linking Depressed Mothers to Effective Services and Supports: A Policy and Systems Agenda to Enhance Children's Development and Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect
 In the spring of 2013, the Urban Institute convened a roundtable discussion to identify promising opportunities for system and policy changes for linking depressed mothers to effective services and supports. The roundtable brought together federal policymakers, researchers, public experts, advocates, philanthropic funders, and practitioners. The convening resulted in recommendations and next steps for identifying and treating maternal depression, which are outlined in the recently released summary of the culminating roundtable. (CLASP Early Childhood Education Update). 

Investing in Young Children: A Fact Sheet on Early Care and Education Participation, Access, and Quality
CLASP and the National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP) have released this report that reveals that significant under investment in early care and education programs at the state and federal levels has left large numbers of children under-served. 


Teaching Math to Young Children

This practice guide, released by The Institute of Education Sciences' What Works Clearinghouse (WWC), provides five recommendations for teaching math to children in preschool, prekindergarten, and kindergarten. Each recommendation includes implementation steps and solutions for common roadblocks. The recommendations also summarize and rate supporting evidence. The guide is geared toward teachers, administrators, and other educators who want to build a strong foundation for later math learning. (Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center eNotes).


Business and Industry Association's Strategic Economic Plan for New Hampshire 

The Business and Industry Association of NH's Strategic Economic Plan has just been released. It includes seeking a high quality lifelong educational system, including pre-kindergarten.  It also includes a goal that "all New Hampshire residents are among the healthiest in the nation and have lifelong access to a high quality, affordable, integrated and preventive health and community support system."