March 2014 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.
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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
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Dear Friend of Spark NH,


Bedrock Presentations

In order to ensure broader understanding of the role of early childhood in the future prosperity of the Granite state, Spark NH has been giving presentations around the state entitled, "Children: Bedrock of the Granite State."  The presentation was created with the guidance of our communications consultant, Lynn Davey, and is based on work on effective messaging by the Frameworks Institute.  We have found it to be very effective.  The presentation is generally about 30 minutes but can be shortened to accommodate audience needs.  It gives an overview of early childhood brain development and the importance of investment in the early years, and is appropriate for varied audiences.  We have presented to early childhood advocates, educators, businesses leaders and others around the state and are planning many more presentations this year.  If you would like to host a presentation or have an idea of an organization or group that would like to host it, please feel free to contact me. 


New Council Members

I would like to let you know about two new Governor-appointed Council members this month.  Erin Boylan is the new President of Family Support NH and has replaced Monica Zulauf in representing Family Support NH on the Council.  Shannon Weaver is the Chair and new representative of the New Hampshire Head Start State Parent Advisory Council and has replaced Kina Ferreira.  We welcomed Erin and Shannon at the February 27 Council meeting. We thank Monica and Kina for their service.


Project LAUNCH

In my last newsletter I gave a short update on Project LAUNCH, and I just wanted to add on and say that the state-level project is now fully staffed.  The Maternal and Child Health Section at the Department of Public Health, DHHS recently hired Elizabeth Lawrence as the Project LAUNCH Young Child Wellness Partner.  Liz will be working on much of the grant management and data coordination of the project.  Liz comes very highly recommended and we are thrilled to have her on board.


Correction:  Last month, in my discussion of Project LAUNCH I listed the sites involved in the project.  I accidentally referred to the Manchester Community Health Center as the Manchester Community Mental Health Center.  I apologize for the error.

The Workforce and Professional Development Committee has recently launched the New Hampshire Early Childhood PORTAL: Professional Opportunities, Resources, Trainings And Links. This is a free resource open to all individuals working, or interested in working, in the early childhood field in NH and is located on our website at The PORTAL serves as a central location for early childhood (children age 0-8) professional development and employment opportunities in early education, family support and health, and also provides links to various early childhood resources. This is a high-quality, user friendly and easily accessible search engine that will support all professionals working with and on behalf of young children and their families. Using the PORTAL, seasoned professionals and students alike will find the resources, opportunities and trainings they need. All opportunities on the PORTAL are posted exclusively by individual organizations. This ensures that all posts are accurate and remain up to date. Early childhood professionals will benefit from using the PORTAL because they will have all of the information they need in one place, allowing them to devote more of their time to the children and families they serve. To learn how you can sign up and get started, please visit 
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  


Policy Committee- February 3, 2014

Kim Firth and Deb Connell joined the committee.  Policy Committee members discussed the overall goals of the NH Early Childhood Plan and the Race to the Top grant.  The federal grant, though not awarded, will continue to serve as an important roadmap for the work of the Policy Committee.  The committee reviewed their workplan: conduct a policy scan of early childhood best practices and use the scan to offer policy recommendations in Fall 2014.  The committee recommends hiring a national expert to draft the scan.  The committee reviewed a draft of the Needs Assessment and made recommendations to the Data Committee.  The Feb 20 Legislative Lunch was discussed.


Data Committee- February 3, 2014

The Data Committee discussed a plan for finalizing the needs assessment report and completing issue briefs over the next two months. The committee reviewed the Data Committee work plan, evaluated progress and discussed next steps. Committee members were given a brief update of the Project LAUNCH data efforts, and also finalized a list of potential indicators to be submitted to NH Kids Count for possible inclusion in the next report. 


Family Partnership and Engagement Task Force - February 10, 2014

We are moving forward with the Parent Engagement Roadmap Tool with great excitement.  As a group, it was revised and edited again so that the final copy could be sent to the executive committee by February 11, 2014, in hope that we can share it with the council on February 27, 2014.  We made a work plan for the first half of the year with major concentration on the Parent Engagement Roadmap Tool. We plan on collecting the data we receive from the tool and report back to the council at the end of the June. 


Executive Committee - February 11, 2014

The Executive Committee reviewed the new budget that includes each of Spark NH's different funding streams, set the agenda for the February Council Meeting, and was given a brief update of Project LAUNCH. The committee also looked at the Family Engagement Road map that was put together by the Family Partnership and Engagement Task Force. 


Upcoming Meetings 

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



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

     Awareness Committee (1st Thursday

     of every other month) (at Child and Family      Services, 103 N. State Street, Concord)


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


Tuesday, March 11, 12-2................................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)



Monday, April 7, 9-10:30.................................Policy Committee 

                                                                         (every 1st Monday) 


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

                                                                         (every 1st Monday) 


Tuesday, April 8, 12-2......................................Executive Committee

                                                                         (every 2nd Tuesday)


Monday, April 14, time TBD............................Family Partnership and Engagement Task                                                                            Force (2nd Monday of every other month) 


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

                                                                         (every 3rd Tuesday)


Thursday, April 24, 9-11..................................Bi-Monthly Council Meeting

                                                                          (4th Thursday of every other month)


Friday, April 5, 9-11.........................................Workforce and Professional Development                                                                          Committee (every 4th Friday)


Upcoming Events, Workshops and Webinars


Visit the PORTAL at to view upcoming events, workshops and webinars, and job postings available throughout the state! 


Build Initiative Webinar: The Nuts and Bolts of Building Early Childhood Systems through State/Local Initiatives

March 17, 2014 at 2:00pm

This webinar will share the diverse approaches that states have taken, the infrastructure they have created at the state and local level, what is working and what is not, lessons learned along the way, and words of advise from leaders of state/local early childhood systems initiatives. To learn more, and to register, click here. 




Links of Interest      

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently published this report that discusses existing federally funded programs that provide support for early learning or child care services. It also discusses the extent to which these programs are administered by multiple federal agencies, have similar goals, or provide the same services. (Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center eNotes). 

The Common Education Data Standards project is a national collaborative effort to develop voluntary, common data standards for a key set of education data elements to enable more consistent and comparable data to be used throughout all education levels and sectors, both within and across states. Version 4 of the CEDS is now available online and It includes new and updated early learning elements that were developed by early learning stakeholders from local school districts, state education agencies, national early childhood organizations, and the US DOE and DHHS. (Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center eNotes). 

The NGA Center for Best Practices shares this brief about articulating essential policy questions to inform the design of states' early childhood data systems. It proposes 7 steps to not only identify the key questions, but also the implications these questions have for data collection, data linkages, and the overall system. 

The NGA Center for Best Practices also shares this brief on engaging early learning stakeholders and provides guidance on whom state leaders should consider including "in a collaborative decision-making process that guides the creation and execution of a defined scope of work." It also discusses the role that stakeholders need to play and the kind of information they need to carry out their responsibilities. 

The Administration for Children and Families' Family Room Blog covers a wide variety of topics that talk about new initiatives at the agency, success stories and policy announcements. Examples of blogs include "Federal Role for Early Childhood,"Health Insurance: Because it Makes You," and "Collaborating to Evaluate Home Visiting Programs for Infants and Mothers." 

On February 12, 2014 the US DOE posted this invitation to comment on the State of Preschool Survey. This annual survey centralizes data about publicly provided early childhood education opportunities. Data are collected from state agencies responsible for providing early childhood education and made available for secondary analyses. Public comments are due on or before April 14, 2014. (Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center eNotes). 

The Early Head Start- Child Care Partnerships is an initiative to support states and communities in expanding high quality early learning to infants and toddlers through partnerships between Early Head Start and child care. 

This report from the Journal of Human Resources answers the question of how much of the income-based gaps in cognitive ability and academic achievement could be closed by a two-year, center-based early childhood education intervention. 

An associate professor, Ferol Mennen, at the USC School of Social Work has been granted $2.5 million from the Administration for Children and Families to test a promising approach to alleviate depression as a strategy to improve the lives of mothers and children enrolled in Early Head Start programs. Currently, depression affects more than half of all mothers in Early Head Start programs so Mennen plans to work with the Los Angeles-based Children's Institute to test a group therapy approach to treating depressive symptoms and improving parenting skills among mothers in Head Start. 

Results from the Early Childhood Data Collaborative's 2013 Early Childhood Data Systems Survey show that most states can't answer basic questions about early childhood care and education. Timely and accurate access to early childhood data would help policymakers, early childhood education professionals and parents to make more informed decisions. 

The National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) has shared this article that explains the research behind the 'word gap,' and offers a simple solution that can help children build crucial language and vocabulary skills. 

This NPR article shares the story of Izidor Ruckel, an author who wrote about his experience as an orphan in Romania. The first few years of life are critical times for child brain development, and much of what researchers know about parental bonding and the brain is from studies of children who spent time in Romanian orphanages during the 1980s and 1990s. 

Governors from both parties are pitching early education and workforce development. This article from Stateline, The Daily News Service of The Pew Charitable Trusts, highlights several governor's pitched proposals or expansions of existing programs that would train students in workforce skills that are in demand.  

Dr. Jack Shonkoff writes in this month's JAMA Pediatrics: "The time has now come for a different approach to early childhood investment that catalyzes innovation, seeks far greater impacts, and views best practices as a baseline, not a solution." 

Ounce of Prevention and Educare Chicago has created tips on how to discern high quality early learning environments including a list of what you do and don't want to see in early learning environments. 

The Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) published this article, from Aspen Institute's blog, about Children's Savings Accounts (CSA). The article explains that "CSAs are long-term, matched savings accounts for children that are generally used for higher education, engaging low-income parents and their children in financial education and savings activities." 

This brief from CLASP provides analysis of national trends for spending and participation in CCDBG and TANF child care in 2012 based on the most recent state data available from the US DHHS. 

Child Trends published this report on Integrated Student Supports (ISS) that examines whether or not ISS are effective at improving educational outcomes.

This is a list of resources for parents and other caregivers about fostering kindness, empathy, resilience, perseverance, and focus in children. (Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center eNotes).