June 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 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,


Our "Children: The Bedrock of the Granite State" presentation continues to help audiences around the state understand the importance of early childhood to New Hampshire's future prosperity.  In late April, Spark NH, accompanied by Tom Raffio, President and CEO of Northeast Delta Dental, and Steve Rowe, President of the New Hampshire Endowment for Health, presented to about 70 legislators at the Legislative Office Building.  Jackie Cowell, Executive Director of Early Learning NH and Spark NH Council Member, presented the core story of child development: that the brain is built like a house, with either a sturdy or a fragile foundation for all the learning, health and behavior that follows. She went on to talk about the means to ensure a sturdy foundation: serve and return relationships between children and caring adults.  She explained how toxic stress - stress affecting children which is persistent and unrelieved (like abuse, neglect, or exposure to violence) - derails healthy development and damages the brain's structure, resulting in lifelong consequences to health, learning and behavior.   Steve Rowe, as a former Attorney General in Maine, spoke about his experience with seeing what happened to children affected by toxic stress and the costs to society in the juvenile and criminal justice system.  Tom Raffio, as a business leader, spoke about how if we invest in early childhood we can ensure that strong foundations are built and therefore result in a well-trained future workforce and brighter economic future.  The response to the presentation was quite positive and a number of legislators said that they wanted to become involved in our work.  We plan to speak again to the legislature in the Fall.


Cos Coalition for Young Children and Families

In May, I was privileged to see the "Children: The Bedrock of the Granite State" presentation masterfully performed by Cathy McDowell of the Cos Coalition for Young Children and Families at the Tillotson Fund's celebration of the success of their investments in the last five years.  One of those  investments has been the Cos Coalition for Young Children and Families, with wonderful results.  The Coalition has created a true cross sector collaborative group which has been working on strengthening and coordinating the early childhood system in the Cos region.  Participating are representatives of public schools, child care, community health centers, mental health centers, higher education, home visiting, and others who touch the lives of young children and their families in the Cos region.  The group did an intensive strategic planning process and decided to focus on 3 strategies: screening for maternal depression, screening young children for healthy development, and ensuring that early childhood professionals understand and use evidence based methods to support young children's healthy development.  They are making significant systems changes that will ensure a strong future for their children and for their region.  The Coalition is a model in the state and I hope other regions will follow their example.


Spark NH and Early Learning NH VISTA Positions Open

 Our office has two VISTA positions open for recent college graduates - one for Spark NH and the other for Early Learning NH. 


Spark NH: VISTAs who have worked with Spark NH in the past have helped to create our Professional Development Portal, supported our public awareness, needs assessment, data integration, Project LAUNCH and other Council work.  Working for Spark NH provides the opportunity to work on health, early learning and development, and family leadership and support.  It is a wonderful opportunity to work on strengthening the early childhood system to make a difference to young children and their families in New Hampshire.  If you know a college graduate who would be interested in the position, please direct them to this link on the VISTA webpage: https://my.americorps.gov/mp/listing/viewListing.do?id=54636&fromSearch=true or have them contact me at 226-7900 for more information. 


Early Learning NH: VISTAs who work with Early Learning NH help ensure that early childhood education programs: are financially sound; engaged in continuous quality improvement; have sufficient opportunities for professional development; have widespread community involvement; and are accessible, affordable and of high-quality for young children and their families.  A VISTA member will also help to expand the Seacoast Early Learning Alliance (SELA), a groundbreaking alliance developed as a new shared services model for area early childhood programs to strengthen business practices and enhance program quality in order to give children a better start.  Please click on the following link to get more information or contact Katie Brissette at 226-7900. https://my.americorps.gov/mp/listing/viewListing.do?id=54524&fromSearch=true 

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- April 25, 2014

The WPD Committee reviewed flyers that will be used to disseminate information about the PORTAL.  We also heard reports about two projects that are underway with funding from Spark NH.  Karen Welford reported on her work thus far on the Shared Professional Early Childhood Core Competencies (SPECCC) and Tessa McDonnell updated us on her work on the NAEYC Professional Development Blueprint Project.  Committee members offered input on both projects, and a small group volunteered to work with Karen on synthesizing the competencies.  The Committee also completed the Parent Engagement Survey requested by Spark NH.


Communications and Public Awareness Committee- May 1, 2014

The group updated its work plan and is suggesting a joint meeting with the Quality Committee soon.  We discussed how best to update Spark NH's social media sites and get others to follow it.  Many Bedrock presentations have taken place around the state and a newly developed presenter guide will be available to help clarify the process.  The group is brainstorming who else to present to and is using Business NH Magazine's index list as a starting point.  "Our Pledge to New Hampshire's Children" (http://sparknh.com/pledge) replaced the Ready Nation pledge that no longer exists.  July's committee meeting date TBD.   


Policy Committee- May 5, 2014

The Policy Committee was pleased to learn that the Family Leadership and Engagement Taskforce found their responses to the roadmap questions helpful.  A recap of the successful Legislative Luncheon on April 30 was given.  The co-chairs of the committee met to discuss hiring an expert to conduct the policy scan and facilitate the policy recommendation process.  Two national organizations and one statewide consulting firm have been contacted: the Alliance for Early Success, Zero to Three and Kieschnick consulting.  Follow up discussions will ensue.  The Carsey Institute at UNH will be contacted as well. The Quality Committee has requested that the co-chairs attend their next meeting to coordinate the policy scan work with their findings and recommendations relative to the family survey.  Homework was assigned for the June meeting.


Executive Committee - May 11, 2014

The Executive Committee was updated on the progress of Project LAUNCH and ECCS and discussed the Council work plan and some next steps that they will be taking, including building stronger relationships with the Governor, Commissioners and Legislature.  The committee agreed that they would like to have Council members attend a cultural competency training, either at a Council meeting or council retreat, drafted the June Council meeting agenda, and received updates from members regarding the KRI Forum, Watch Me Grow and the DOE Summer Educator's Summit. 


Upcoming Meetings 

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



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)

*at Plymouth State University

  2 Pillsbury Street, Concord NH


Friday, June 27, 9-11...........................Workforce and Professional Development                                                                                  Committee (every 4th Friday)



Date and Time TBD..............................Communications & Public Awareness Committee

                                                                    (usually every 1st Thursday) 


Date and Time TBD..............................Evaluation Committee

                                                                     (usually every 1st Friday)  


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

                                                                     (every 1st Monday) 


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

                                                                     (every 1st Monday) 


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

                                                                     (every 2nd Tuesday)  


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

                                                                      (every 3rd Tuesday) 


Friday, July 25, 9-11...............................Workforce and Professional Development                                                                                 Committee (every 4th Friday)

Upcoming Events, Workshops and Webinars


Visit the PORTAL at  www.sparknh.org/portal to view upcoming events, workshops and webinars, and job postings available throughout the state! 


Links of Interest   


Worthy Wage Day 2014 

Worthy Wage Day has been held each year since 1987. It is a national day of action that is part of an ongoing grassroots campaign to raise awareness of the low wages earned by early childhood educators and the damaging effects on young children of instability from the teacher retention crisis and chronic under-funding in early education. This year, Worthy Wage Day was on May 1, but one day is not enough recognition. This article gives a brief history of Worthy Wage Day and asks you to make sure you thank an early childhood educator for the important work they do.  


The Division for Early Childhood of the Council for Exceptional Children 2014 Recommended Practices

The Division for Early Childhood of the Council for Exceptional Children has released an updated set of recommended practices to provide guidance to practitioners and families about the most effective ways to improve learning outcomes and promote the development of young children who have or are at-risk for developmental delays or disabilities. 


5 Myths About Moms and Families Worldwide 

Child Trends has summarized 5 myths about moms, their relationships, their children and their circumstances from a report, the World Family Map 2014. The World Family Map 2014 is the result of a collaboration with a consortium of international research institutions and non-government organizations. 


What the Media Has Missed on the ACA: How it Helps Low-Income Young People Succeed in School, at Work, and as Parents

CLASP's Executive Director Olivia Golden writes about how focusing on only the financing aspect of the ACA, the news media has missed out on sharing the benefits that many young children experiencing low income and their families will receive. Olivia Golden writes that "a national sample of infants found that half of the babies living in poverty had mothers age 24 or under and under one-fifth to one-quarter had mothers between 25 and 29. Prior to the ACA, many of these low-income young parents had no insurance coverage for their own physical or mental health after the birth of the baby." We know that parents' untreated health problems affect a young child's development and contribute to disparities in school readiness and children's success later in life, so Golden shares that the ACA "offers an extraordinary opportunity to contribute not only to young people's own success but also to their children's."


Food Insecurity a Major Problem for U.S. Families

In the United States, 49 million people are food insecure, including 16 million children according to the United States Department of Agriculture. This report from Feeding America illustrates data and national trends on food insecurity. 


Early Brain and Child Development Training and Education Modules 

The American Academy of Pediatrics and Child Development Leadership Workgroup is announcing the availability of 5 new training and education modules for pediatricians and other health care providers. The modules provide key information and resources on early brain development topics such as toxic stress, adverse childhood experiences, supporting parents and cultivating community relationships, and more. 


The State of Preschool 2013: First Look

The National Center for Education Statistics published this new report that presents data about state supported preschool enrollment and the funding of preschool programs at the state and national levels for the 2012-13 school year. The information provided is based on data collected through the State of Preschool 2012-13 data collection within the Institute of Education Studies. (Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center eNotes). 


Helping Parents, Helping Children: Two-Generation Mechanisms

This Spring 2014 issue of Future of Children focuses on programs that simultaneously serve disadvantaged parents and children with high-quality interventions. Because the home environment is so important for children's development, many people think such "two-generation" programs can be more effective and efficient than programs serving parents and children individually. This article discusses six mechanisms through which parents and the home environment are thought to influence children's development. (Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center eNotes). 


Making the Link Between Health and School Readiness

Promoting healthy development and treating children's health issues enhances their readiness for school. The Office of Head Start's National Center on Health released this new interactive online tool which is designed to help early childhood program leaders integrate meaningful health strategies with school readiness goals. (Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center eNotes). 


This new resource describes daily routines for children within four age groups (infants, mobile infants, toddlers, and preschoolers) and provides safety tips that specifically address the developmental needs of children in these age groups, as well as tips that apply to all children. It was developed by the Office of Head Start's National Center on Health for early childhood staff working with young children in classroom environments. (Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center eNotes). 

Ready Nation/America's Edge published this report that found for every $1 invested in providing access to disadvantaged Illinois children for quality early care and education programs, an additional 94 cents is generated. 


This report, also from Ready Nation/America's Edge examined the effects of early learning programs in Pennsylvania, and determined that every $1 invested in quality programs would return an additional 79 cents in economic activity.


Early Childhood Education for Low-Income Students: A Review of the Evidence and Benefit-Cost Analysis

A report from the Washington State Institute for Public Policy examines the research for various early interventions, and their impact of these interventions on the outcomes for students experiencing a low income. The report finds that early childhood education for these students show positive impacts on both short- and long-term outcomes.


60-Second Video Shows Support for Preschool from Unexpected Messengers

Check out this short video that shows five nonprofit membership organizations informing you of the benefits of high-quality preschool. Hear from business and retired military leaders, law enforcement and others working to spread the word on the importance of high-quality preschool for all children.


As Foster Care Numbers Drop, More Kids Placed With Relatives

Data from KIDS COUNT show that over the past decade, the number of children in foster care has declined, and states are relying on kinship at a higher rate than in the past. This news report shows a visual depiction of children in foster care by placement type across the United States.


Immigrant Parents and Early Childhood Programs: Addressing Barriers of Literacy, Culture, and Systems Knowledge

According to the Migration Policy Institute, "recent years have seen a rapid increase in the size and share of the U.S. young-child population...with one in four young children in the United States living in an immigrant family." This report, a study based on field research in six states, expert interviews, a literature review, and a sociodemographic analysis, identifies the unique needs of immigrant parents and strategies for addressing these needs. 


Re-Framing Children's Mental Wellness

Half of us will experience a mental health concern at some point in our lives, and most of these will first arise in childhood. Yet mental illness is stigmatized and under-resourced. Child Trends conducted a literature review on children's mental health and wellness for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and found several key themes. For one, wellness is a resource that can be nurtured and replenished. (Child Trends E-News). 


It's not always easy to translate lessons learned from programs in one country, to programs in another. Yet international collaborations can help us understand how national trends in child well-being fit into the international landscape. Dr. Tamara Halle, a senior early childhood researcher, writes about her experiences as a visiting scholar at the Haruv Institute and the Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute in Jerusalem. (Child Trends E-News). 

The Early Childhood Systems Work Group (ECWSG) has been working on the development of an early childhood systems framework since 2006. The framework focuses on three components and six core strategies that are critical in the development of comprehensive early childhood systems. The ECSWG recently released this planning tool that is based on the framework. The planning tool is designed to assist state and community leaders in their efforts to improve the quality, alignment, and efficiency of early childhood programs serving young children and their families. It can be used to enhance systems thinking when planning for and managing integrated early childhood systems. (Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center eNotes).  

The Center for the Study of Social Policy put this paper together that explores the alignment between the Center's Strengthening Families approach and the Head Start Parent, Family and Community Engagement Framework. It is the hope that leaders in states, agencies and early childhood programs can use this paper to understand the contributions of these frameworks and make informed decisions about implementation strategies to promote parent, family and community engagement to support children's healthy development and improved outcomes. 

CLASP shares this report from the Urban Institute that confirms that states and local communities can improve access to preschool by using intentional outreach and enrollment strategies and building stronger relationships with parents. This comes from the fact that despite opportunities for advancing school readiness and child well-being, children of immigrants are less likely than children of U.S.- born citizens to access early education programs. 

The CDC has launched this free, online resource for parents of 2 to 4 year olds. This tool addresses common parenting challenges and provides positive parenting skills and techniques that can reduce parenting stress and provide parents with ways to handle their child's misbehavior. 

This toolkit, developed by Child Trends, is designed to support state and local efforts to build strong data infrastructure for initiatives designed to measure, monitor and promote high-quality early care and education. The toolkit contains two linked sections, a linkages guide to support effective data collection, and a dictionary of common data elements to instruct the selection and use of data to answer important policy and reporting questions. 

The Administration for Children and Families summarized some of the Needs Assessments conducted by State Advisory Councils and found that several states identified the same top priority areas that they hope to focus on in the future. Some priority areas include increasing access to high-quality care opportunities, expanding early childhood data collection systems and strengthening the early childhood workforce. 

The Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes, CEELO, produced this policy report which finds that access to quality early care and education is highly unequal for children in the U.S. and is of particular concern for African American, Hispanic, and non-English speaking children. This is due in part to the fact that targeted programs are often not high quality and targeting is not always effective in reaching disadvantaged populations. The information presented is based on analyses of three main sources of data: the State of the Preschool Yearbook series, the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Cohort 2010/22, and the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort 2001. (Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center eNotes).   


The Role of Program Quality in Determining Head Start's Impact on Child Development: Third Grade Follow-Up to the Head Start Impact Study

This report examines the influence of Head Start quality on selected developmental cognitive and social-emotional outcomes. Using data from the Head Start Impact Study, the report looks at whether the impacts of Head Start might be larger or more persistent for children who participate in high-quality Head Start programs as opposed to lower-quality Head Start programs. (Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center eNotes). 


Bright Futures and State Implementation

This issue brief from Bright Futures, a national effort of the Maternal and Child Health Bureau and the American Academy of Pediatrics, provides a concise history and overview of Bright Futures, describes its role in healthcare reform, and illustrates past and present examples of state efforts to implement the guidelines. (Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center eNotes). 


Why Rural Matters

Why Rural Matters highlights the condition of rural education in the 50 states. The report includes a section of Rural Early Child Development and presents census data describing the characteristics of the rural population ages birth to five in each of the 50 states. This is the seventh report in a series of biennial reports on rural education from the Rural School and Community Trust. (Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center eNotes).