February 2014 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,


The message about the importance of investment in early childhood to a prosperous Granite State continues to spread.  Two important leaders in New Hampshire spoke this month about early childhood and mentioned the New Hampshire Comprehensive Strategic Plan for Early Childhood (EC Plan).  At the recent New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute Conference on "Government in the Granite State: Past Present and Future," Tom Raffio spoke eloquently on the importance of early childhood in preparing New Hampshire's next generation.   He encouraged people to get involved with Spark NH and referred them to EC Plan.  Last week Dick Ober, President and CEO of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, wrote an inspiring letter about the significance and value of investing in the early years.  At the end of the letter he encouraged readers to "Learn more by reading "Children: The Bedrock of the Granite State," a new plan by Spark NH, the governor-appointed Early Childhood Advisory Council at www.sparknh.org." We are so grateful to these partners for the work they do and for helping Spark NH to do its work better. 


The first month of the year found all the committees working hard on their new work plans.  Their plans are based on the work identified in the New Hampshire Comprehensive Strategic Plan for Early Childhood.  All Spark NH committees and Task Forces are open to the public and are pleased to add new members.  Please let me know if you are interested in joining a committee or task force.


Project LAUNCH

You may remember discussions of Project LAUNCH from past newsletters.  Project LAUNCH is a grant program of the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).    It's a 5 year grant to work on early childhood wellness systems building and prevention.  The Manchester pilot project has five elements:

  • 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.

The sites for this project include: Manchester Community Mental Health Center, Child Health Services, Easter Seals, Southern New Hampshire Services Head Start, and Child and Family Services.  Overseeing the Manchester project and leading the Manchester Young Child Wellness Council is Lara Quiroga.  Lara brings substantial experience in early childhood to her job and is skillfully coordinating the many moving parts of the project. 


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 serve as a part-time Young Child Wellness Expert to staff the Council and continue our systems building work. Carol Garhart is the other part-time Young Child Wellness Expert, providing technical assistance to the local work, forming the bridge to the local Council, and helping to inform work at the state level. Carol has a long history in early childhood education, including writing numerous books on child development.


The whole project is overseen by the Maternal and Child Health Section at DHHS, with longtime early childhood comprehensive systems advocate Deirdre Dunn Tierney serving as the Project LAUNCH Director.


I am very excited by Project LAUNCH, both for the young children and their families in Manchester who we hope will achieve better outcomes, and for the improvement of the early childhood system both in Manchester and statewide. 


Reminder: Spark NH Weather Policy

Spark NH follows the Concord School District's cancellation Policy.  If the Concord Schools are cancelled, Spark NH is closed and meetings are cancelled.  We will do our best to post the cancellations on the website in a timely way


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 - January 6, 2014

The Executive Committee discussed potential projects in the EC Plan, as well as what their next steps will be in regards to the Early Childhood System Governance Structure. The committee also briefly discussed the budget for the next 3 years, the progress of Project LAUNCH, and the Council work plan. 


Data Committee- January 6, 2014

The Data Committee discussed the next steps for a data integration project given that NH was not awarded the RTT-ELC grant. However, before proceeding with this project, the committee is going to focus much of their time on wrapping up the Needs Assessment. The Committee discussed the data efforts in both Project LAUNCH and the Coos Coalition for Young Children and Families, briefly reviewed their committee work plan, and brainstormed ideas for potential indicators to include in the next NH Kids Count Report. 


Evaluation Committee- January 10, 2014

The Evaluation Committee discussed possible indicators that could be included in the next NH Kids Count Data Report and made some minor revisions to the Spark NH Workplan. The committee also discussed whether to consider adding a question or two to the Granite State poll to gather some baseline public opinion data related to early childhood and agreed to talk about this more at the next committee meeting. The group decided that they will distribute a committee member survey during the summer once committees have had some time to implement their new workplans. Finally, the committee decided that they will start meeting on a bi-monthly basis, so the next meeting is in March. 


Quality Committee - January 21, 2014

The Quality Committee welcomed several new members and revisited the reason why people come to the meetings.  Much time was devoted to discussing ways the Council endorsed definition of Quality might be presented to the early childhood community. Specific plans for ways to do this will be presented at a Council meeting when they are finalized.  The committee is entering into a series of discussions on recommendations may be drawn from the Family and Professional Surveys.  Recommendations will be presented to the Council when discussions are completed.


Upcoming Meetings 

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



Monday, February 3, 9-10:30.. .......................Policy Committee 

                                                                        (every 1st Monday) 


Monday, February 3, 2-4................................Data Committee

                                                                        (every 1st Monday) 


Tuesday, February 11, 11:30-1:30..................Executive Committee

                                                                        (every 2nd Tuesday)


Monday, February 10, 9-10:30.......................Family Partnership and
                                                                        Engagement Task Force

                                                                        (every 2nd Monday)


Tuesday, February 18, 1-3..............................Quality Committee

                                                                        (every 3rd Tuesday)


Thursday, February 27, 8:30-11.....................Bi-monthly Council Meeting

            (4th Thursday of every other month) 


Friday, February 28, 9-11................................Workforce and Professional Development                                                                           Committee (every 4th Friday)




Monday, March 3, 9-10:30.. ........................Policy Committee 

                                                                     (every 1st Monday) 


Monday, March 3, 2-4.................................Data Committee

                                                                     (every 1st Monday) 


Thursday, March 6, 10-11:30.......................Communications and Public

  Awareness Committee (1st Thursday

  of every other month) 


Friday, March 7, 2-4....................................Evaluation Committee 
                                                                    (1st Friday of every other month) 


Monday, March 10, 9-10:30........................Family Partnership and 
                                                                    Engagement Task Force

                                                                    (every 2nd Monday)


Tuesday, March 11, 11:30-1:30..................Executive Committee

                                                                    (every 2nd Tuesday)


Tuesday, March 18, 1-3..............................Quality Committee

                                                                    (every 3rd Tuesday)


Friday, March 28, 9-11................................Workforce and Professional Development                                                                           Committee (every 4th Friday)


Upcoming Events, Workshops and Webinars



The Education & Training Partnership Winter 2014 Courses

The Education and Training Partnership is pleased to offer continuing education courses in child welfare to licensed childcare providers. Classes are a mix of online and face to face classroom experiences. Tuition fees are very affordable. Click here for more information on each course, as well as a registration link.


Difficult Conversations with Parents

The Early Education and Intervention Network of New Hampshire is hosting this workshop that will assist you in determining what your concerns are and how to address them effectively with families. Strategies will be given to help guide the conversations that you have with parents. Jennifer Doris and Terry Ohlson-Martin will be presenting this workshop.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014, 6-8 pm

Midstate Health Center, 101 Boulder Point Drive, Plymouth, NH 03265

For questions, please email info@eeinnh.accountsupport.com or call 603-228-2040. To register, click here.  


Challenging Behaviors 

The Early Education and Intervention Network of New Hampshire is hosting this workshop on Challenging Behaviors. 98% of challenging behaviors are a mismatch of temperament between the adult and the child. How can self-reflection, self-awareness and documentation help teachers down size their challenging behavior population? Megg Thompson will be presenting this workshop.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014, 6:30-8:30 pm

Community Campus, 100 Campus Drive, Portsmouth, NH 03801

For questions, please call 603-228-2040. To register, click here.   


Applications for New Awards from the U.S. Department of Education 

The U.S. Department of Education recently published the following applications for new awards in the Federal Register: 

Educational Technology, Media, and Materials for Individuals with Disabilities- Stepping-Up Technology Implementation (published Jan. 9, 2014). Applications must be submitted by March 10, 2014. 

Personnel Development to Improve Services and Results for Children with Disabilities- Preparation of Special Education, Early Intervention, and Related Services Leadership Personnel (published Jan. 10, 2014). Applications must be submitted by February 24, 2014. 




Links of Interest      

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has released a new set of recommendations aimed at improving the health of all Americans. Click on the link above to view the report and an executive summary.

The Urban Institute has published this report that looks at how state policies affect families' child care expenses. The report shows that when families' incomes increase so that they are ineligible for child care assistance, the potential increase in out-of-pocket child care expenses can be much greater than the increase in income. (Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center eNotes). 

This report was published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation. It describes a study that has been designed to examine the effects of two home visiting models: Healthy Families America (HFA) and Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) on birth outcomes and maternal and infant health and health care. The study was developed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Administration for Children and Families, and implemented in partnership with the Health Resources and Services Administration. (Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center eNotes). 

The 23rd annual report, published by The Children's Bureau, presents data collected from the States' child protective services agencies via the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System. The FFY 2012 report shows that the national estimate of unique child abuse and neglect victims was 678,810, and children from birth to 1 year had the highest rate of victimization. Click on the link to learn more. (Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center eNotes). 

The Education Commission of the States published this analysis of 2013-14 state pre-K appropriations by the 50 states and the District of Columbia, which shows that for the second year in a row, in the midst of state budget constraints, policymakers are making significant investments in state-funded pre-K. (Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center eNotes). To view a related article published in The Washington Post, click here.

The Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO) published this policy brief by Stacie G. Goffin. The policy brief was commissioned by CEELO as they begin designing an Early Education Leadership Academy (EELA) for early learning and K-Grade 3 State Education Agency/Early Learning Agency (SEA/ELA) administrators. The report presents a multi-dimensional view of the leadership development needs of SEA/ELA early learning administrators and provides a series of suggested actions to address these needs. (Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center eNotes). 

The Office of Head Start, National Center on Cultural and Linguistic Responsiveness has published this synthesis brief that highlights the similarities among all young children, differences between children growing up with one language and children who are dual language learners (DLLs), and diversity among children who are DLLs (e.g., individual differences of temperament, interests, etc.). (Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center eNotes). 

ReadyNation has recently launched this database that is a collection of national, state and local early childhood initiatives with significant business involvement. Ready2Go provides diverse examples of early childhood projects that suit a variety of circumstances and preferences for business. 

The Institute for Child Success has released this report that explores the promise, challenges, and current landscape of early childhood Pay for Success Financing. The report also proposes steps for providers, foundations, governments, researchers, and others interested in developing early childhood Pay for Success projects. The Institute partnered with the Connecticut Center for Social Innovation in preparing this report. (ReadyNation)

Docs for Tots released this new brief that details how high-quality early care and education can improve health outcomes. The report uses prior research to highlight that high-quality early education can reduce smoking rates, alcohol and drug use; increase likelihood of regularly seeing a doctor or dentist; and engage in healthy behaviors. (ReadyNation)

The Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, in the Administration for Children and Families, released this literature review that provides an overview of factors that influence parents' decision-making related to child care. (Child Trends). 

The National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders (NPCD-ASD) at the FPG Child Development Institute recently published this report that identifies 27 focused intervention practices that provide a solid, empirical basis on which to design programs for children and youth with ASD. (Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center eNotes).

The Children's Defense Fund has published a new edition of its annual report on the well-being of children. This report provides data on child population, poverty, family structure and income, housing, child nutrition, early education, education, and more. (Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center eNotes).

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation has published this data toolkit that was designed to support states' efforts to effectively gather and use high-quality data. The toolkit contains a Linkages Guide and a Dictionary of Common Data Elements. (Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center eNotes).