May 2014 Newsletter
In This Issue
Committee and Task Force Meeting Summaries
Upcoming Meetings
Upcoming Events, Workshops and Webinars, and Links of Interest
Spark New Hampshire's website is
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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,


At a recent Project LAUNCH all staff meeting I heard a presentation by Stephanie Emmons, the Early Childhood Specialist at Child and Family Services for the Project LAUNCH pilot in Manchester.  Stephanie uses the Keys to Interactive Parenting (KIPS) Assessment tool with parents who are already involved in home visiting to further support and enhance their parenting skills.  Parents are given the opportunity to be videotaped while interacting with their children.  Stephanie uses the KIPS to assess these interactions to support strong parenting and work on improvement.  She works with the home visitor for the family to help parents focus on strengthening parenting.  After the parent meets with the home visitor for some weeks, Stephanie tapes another interaction between parent and children to help the parent see how they're doing.   At our meeting, Stephanie highlighted a case where the tools worked especially well.  I was so inspired so I got Honey's permission to share the story:


Honey found many interactions with her children to be overwhelming.   Honey's home visitor suggested she might benefit from the opportunity Stephanie provided and Honey hoped it would help her to get her children's behavior under control.    With Honey's permission, Stephanie showed us the videos. Honey had asked Stephanie to videotape the time her children returned from school, which felt especially difficult to her.  In the first video, Honey's house was very dark.  The children returned home and Honey immediately pointed her finger and admonished them to hang up their coats, not to leave their shoes around and interrogated her daughter about where she'd lost her mittens.  In the same video, Honey is shown playing a game with her daughter.  She was frustrated and distracted, often looking at her phone.  When Stephanie showed her the video, Honey was distressed.  She said, "I look like a drill sergeant!" and, "I saw the video and I saw my mother."  She said that she realized that it was not her children's behavior that needed to change, but hers.

Stephanie and Honey's home visitor helped Honey to think about how to enjoy her children more.  Honey was highly motivated and the home visitor helped her over a number of visits. The second video Stephanie showed us was filmed several months after the first video.  The difference was dramatic.  In the video, Honey's house was bright, shades open.  Honey and one of her daughters were playing a game.  They both were giggling, making eye contact and thoroughly enjoying each other's company. 

I was struck by how much difference this kind of family support can make.   I wish every parent had access to helpful feedback and encouragement to help them find joy in their children.   Honey's case was a dramatic one, but Project LAUNCH is only in its first year.  Enhanced home visiting is just one of the strategies being used to support young children and their families in Manchester.   Just like our work at the state level, the Manchester Pilot is about coordinating the early childhood system so that young children and their families get the support they need to be healthy, learning and thriving.   I'm greatly looking forward to hearing more great stories as the project evolves.   I'll keep you posted.



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- March 28, 2014

The committee reviewed and provided feedback for the PORTAL website and marketing tools. It was agreed that focus needs to first be to market to organizations who will be posting, then to users in order to ensure that the resources are available. Secondly, the focus was on the Parent Engagement Road Map. The committee documented ways that we focus on families, what goals our committee could support around family engagement, and how a parent perspective could be a benefit to the work we are doing.


Data Committee- April 7, 2014

The Data Committee was updated on a meeting with Mary Ann Cooney at DHHS to talk about where they are in terms of Endeca. The committee discussed the Needs Assessment report, recommendations and next steps to take, as well as how they can better prepare for future reports. Finally, they provided feedback on the draft of the data integration brief that Lynn drafted.


Executive Committee - April 11, 2014

The Executive Committee was updated on upcoming projects that committees will need money for in order to complete, and also reviewed the protocol that will be used for committees to request project funding. They brainstormed a list of agencies they would like to reach out to about investing in Spark NH, received an update on the work of Project LAUNCH, and discussed how we can strengthen our relationship with the Governor and Legislature. Finally, they set the Agenda for the April Council meeting.


Family Partnership and Engagement Task Force- April 14, 2014

The task force reviewed the results of the Family Engagement Roadmap questionnaire that was completed by several Spark NH committees.  Committees took the questions very seriously and made some great suggestions of how to engage families and get feedback from them on their work.   The group will be creating a work plan at its next meeting.


Quality Committee- April 15, 2014

The Quality Committee identified several recommendations from the access to services survey which they plan to discuss with the Policy Committee.  Language describing the definition of quality will soon be sent to Lynn Davey for suggestions about how it might best be used to promote the shared definition of quality in the early childhood community. The Family Engagement Survey was also completed at the last meeting.


Upcoming Meetings 

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



Tuesday, May 13, 12-2..................Executive Committee

                                                       (every 2nd Tuesday) 


Tuesday, May 20, 1-3....................Quality Committee

                                                       (every 3rd Tuesday)


Friday, May 23, 9-11......................Workforce and Professional Development                                                                          Committee (every 4th Friday)




Monday, June 2, 9-10:30................Policy Committee

                                                       (every 1st Monday) 


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

                                                       (every 1st Monday) 


Monday, June 9, 9-10:30................Family Partnership and Engagement Task Force
                                                        (2nd Monday of every other month) 


Tuesday, June 10, 12-2..................Executive Committee

                                                       (every 2nd Tuesday) 


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

                                                       (every 3rd Tuesday)


Thursday, June 26, 9-11.................Bi-monthly Council Meeting

                                                        (4th Thursday of every other month)


Friday, June 27, 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! 


Applications for New Awards; Education Research and Special Education Research Grant Programs

Click here for more information 



Links of Interest   

Race for Results: Building a Path to Opportunity for All Children
This report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation states that "last year, for the first time, more children of color were born in the United States than white children 2030, the majority of the U.S. labor force will be people of color." Data from this report, however, show that African-American, Latino, American Indian and subgroups of Asian and Pacific Islander kids face some of the biggest obstacles on the pathway to opportunity. The Race for Results index is a new collection of data disaggregated by racial and ethnic groups and by state, and will help to advance the often-difficult conversation about racial equity. 

Do Parents Feel More Aggravated These Days? Parental Aggravation in the U.S., 1997-2012
Parental functioning is one of the critical factors determining whether children flourish so it is important to examine stress that can jeopardize effective parenting. This research brief from Child Trends examines data on parental aggravation collected from two nationally representative surveys: the National Survey of America's Families (NSAF) and the National Survey of Children's Health (NSCH). Researchers were able to examine national trends and trends for 13 states over a 15-year period, and trends for 38 states (including the District of Columbia) over a nine-year period. 

The Short- and Long-Term Impacts of Large Public Early Care and Education Programs
The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released this research brief on the impacts of large public early care and education programs for children before kindergarten entry. The brief describes the key features of these programs that lead to the best outcomes, and how to sustain program benefits as children grow older. (Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center eNotes).

Data for a Diverse and Equitable Future
The Institute for Child, Youth and Family Policy at Brandeis University has put together this online tool that provides state-by-state data on child well-being and equity in the U.S. by race and ethnicity. Users can create customized profiles, rankings, and maps, and the site also features a neighborhood-level child opportunity index. 

Early Learning: Kindergarten Online Database 
The Education Commission of the States (ECS) has updated their Kindergarten Database. This database provides users with an overview of kindergarten policies in the U.S. Some of the policies include compulsory school age, teacher/student rations, kindergarten entrance age and kindergarten entrance assessments. (Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center eNotes).  

Many young children in low-income families in the U.S. do not have the same access to technology as their more-advantaged peers. This results in fewer opportunities to develop the skills they will need to succeed later in life. A new publication from the RAND Corporation discusses the important role that early childhood education can play in ensuring that low-income children have access to technology and learn how to use it. (Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center eNotes). 

The National Women's Law Center has published this brief that looks at policies related to when states will reimburse for child care to accommodate the varied needs of families with challenges such as nonstandard or variable work schedules, long commutes, or children vulnerable to illnesses. This brief is based on information collected from state child care administrators and is meant to illustrate the range of approaches states take on these critical aspects of their child care assistance programs. (Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center eNotes).

The educators working with our youngest children must be well to do well in their jobs. A recent report, however, found that early childhood educators working in Pennsylvania Head Start programs reported chronic illnesses in significantly higher proportions than women of similar age and socioeconomic status nationally. Child Trends examines why early childhood teachers are sicker than their peers, and what can be done to increase support for the early care and education workforce. (Child Trends E-News: The Young Child Issue). 

This video from James Heckman describes how early health and education prevent chronic disease.

This new map highlights information on each state's early learning guidelines, program standards for early childhood education, teacher and family guidance documents related to the standards, and links to each state's office(s) of early learning. (Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center eNotes).

The current generation of infants and toddlers is more diverse with respect to race/ethnicity, country of origin, language, and family type than at any time in recent history. Yet it's characterized by multiple inequities, and disparities by race and ethnicity persist. Nearly half of the nation's infants and toddlers live in low-income families. African-American infants are twice as likely to die in infancy as white or Hispanic infants. Learn more about U.S. infants and toddlers from Child Trends' statistical portrait of them and their families, commissioned by the Robert R. McCormick Foundation. (Child Trends E-News: The Young Child Issue). 

Home Visiting Programs: Reviewing Evidence of Effectiveness
The Home Visiting Evidence of Effectiveness (HomVEE) Project was created to identify home visiting models that meet the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' criteria for an evidence-based early childhood home visiting service delivery model. It is meant to assist states participating in Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program, which requires that 75 percent of grant funding be spent on program models that are proven effective. This brief is a three-page summary that describes the review process, review results, and the 14 program models that have been identified to date. (Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center eNotes). 

CLASP, with support from the BUILD initiative, put together this tool for states that provides a menu of state child care assistance policies that states could consider to improve continuity and stability for children and families in the subsidy system and to support child care providers receiving child care subsidy payments. 

Another resource from CLASP and the BUILD initiative, this is a guide for state leaders to learn about the Early Head Start program. It explains 11 key areas of Early Head Start and suggests ways for state policymakers to align key areas of child care and early education with the program. 

Young children may be especially vulnerable to adverse outcomes when their parent goes to war; they are highly emotionally dependent on adults and their brains are particularly susceptible to impact from high levels of stress. This Child Trends report and video share findings from a Child Trends Study, "Home Front Alert: The Risks Facing Young Children in Military Families," and discuss ways to address the needs of these young children. 

The Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO) published this report by Shannon Riley-Ayers that is meant to serve as a guide and framework for early childhood policymakers considering formative assessment. It defines formative assessment and outlines its process and application in the context of early childhood. It also provides several essential questions for policy makers to consider in the process of selecting, supporting, and using data to inform and improve instruction. (Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center eNotes). 

Child Trends has put together this list of five things that you should know about how the environment affects the health and development of young children. 

This fact sheet from the Data Quality Campaign is based on data from the Data for Action 2013 Survey to discuss how states are supporting families by providing critical information parents can use to inform the important education decisions they make for their children. 

Regular attendance is essential to succeeding in school, and chronic absence can cause students to be off track academically. The Data Quality Campaign put together this fact sheet to discuss how states use data to monitor chronic absence. 

This brief from Casey Family Programs describes the evidence of effectiveness of several home-visiting program models in reducing child maltreatment and presents the estimated cost of implementing these models. (Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center eNotes).

The Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee was established to coordinate autism research and other efforts. Each year, the committee releases an annual list of scientific advances that represent significant progress in the field. The studies selected provide new insight into the complex cause of autism, potential risk factors, clues that could lead to earlier diagnosis, and promising early intervention strategies. (Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center eNotes). 

This video from the Results Matter Video Library (a program of the Colorado Department of Education) illustrates how a preschool teacher uses text messaging to help families clearly and quickly understand what their children are learning in the classroom, how they are learning, and ways that they can support their children at home. The teacher, a parent, and the school principal share their perspectives on the use of cell phones and text messaging to build relationships. (Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center eNotes). 

The Center for Early Care and Education Research-Dual Language Learners (CECER-DLL) at the FPG Child Development Institute is a federally funded project to advance the research field to improve assessment, child care, and education for dual language learners from birth through five years of age. This brief highlights findings from a review of existing research on the cognitive development of young dual language learners. (Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center eNotes). 

This report, also from the Center for Early Care and Education Research-Dual Language Learners, focuses on the youngest dual language learners- infants and toddlers. It highlights existing research, and also identifies gaps in what we know about infants and toddlers who are dual language learners. (Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center eNotes).