September 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
 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
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,


I've written here before about Spark NH's mission to create a comprehensive, coordinated system of early childhood programs and services for New Hampshire. In order to succeed in this work we need the support of families, providers of early childhood programs and services, community and business leaders and policymakers. While we know that most people are not able to get involved in Spark NH's committees and task forces, we wanted to offer you a way to show your support for New Hampshire children and to stay connected to our ongoing work on their behalf. To that end, Spark NH recently added a pledge to our website.


Our pledge asks you to affirm the importance of early childhood to New Hampshire's future prosperity. By taking the pledge, you commit to the vision that all New Hampshire children are healthy, learning and thriving now, and in the future. You commit to connect to Spark NH and any further involvement is up to you.


If you have not already signed the pledge, please consider doing so today. I have reprinted the text here:


We believe children are the bedrock of the Granite State. We know that the future prosperity of New Hampshire depends on our ability to steward the next generation who will live, work and lead in our state. We understand that effective public and private investments in young children and their families can ensure strong foundations for future growth.


We are committed to ensuring all New Hampshire children and their families are healthy, learning, and thriving now and in the future. We pledge to take action by connecting to Spark NH, taking a stand, spreading the word, and/ or supporting innovation in our communities.



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- June 27, 2014

At its June meeting, the Workforce and Professional Development Committee heard an update from Karen Welford about the project to develop Shared Cross-Sector Competencies in Early Childhood.  A subcommittee of the WPD Committee will review and revise the draft competencies.  Tessa McDonnell provided an update about the ongoing work of the six workgroups focused on different aspects of the Cross-Sector Professional Development System, following the NAEYC Blueprint.  The WPD Committee offered input and feedback for both projects.  A Task Force of the WPD Committee has been created to serve as the State Leadership Team for an early childhood technical assistance grant to promote positive developmental outcomes for young children with disabilities.


Policy Committee- July 7, 2014

Laura Milliken reported about her meeting with the Coos Coalition for Young Children and Families about creating a strong partnership with Spark NH.  There was a report on the Endowment for Health's early childhood advisory group.  Policy scan recommendations were discussed with the committee's consultant, Peggy Kieschnick, to name criteria for narrowing our policy choices once our facilitated discussion begins.  The list of documents that committee members should read and know was reviewed.  Members were invited to be part of the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) task force.  The statewide NH Educators' Summit will include the workshop "Children: The Bedrock of the Granite State."


Data Committee- July 7, 2014

The Data Committee was updated on the status of the Needs Assessment and was told that a draft of the Executive Summary of the report should be completed soon. The committee completed sorting the recommendations that were pulled from the report into Committee areas and plan to send these recommendations to the appropriate committee when the full report and executive summary have been completed. Finally, the committee reviewed the status of convening a Data Governance Advisory Committee at DHHS.


Communications and Public Awareness Committee- July 9, 2014

Meeting opened with a "heard on the street" exercise to share news about Spark NH.  The Pledge now has an auto-reply and Facebook share feature.  Lynn Davey's Presenter Guide draft was shared.  A Bedrock webinar/video will be produced in the coming months.  The group discussed The Raising of America: Early Childhood and the Future of Our Nation, a PBS documentary.  Lynn is reviewing it for messaging and how it relates to Spark NH.  Robert Putnam's upcoming book, Our Kids, will focus on early childhood development and may complement our work.  A new task force was created and is charged with drafting recommendations for how to use 2-1-1 to better publicize existing programs and services that serve our focus.


Executive Committee- July 8, 2014

The Executive Committee continues to discuss the sustainability of Spark NH, receive updates on Project LAUNCH and ECCS, and make sure that committees are on track with their work plans. The committee drafted an agenda for the August Council meeting, and brainstormed ideas for both the Council Retreat that is being held at the end of September, and for what should be included in the Annual Report to the Governor's office. Finally, they discussed the guidelines for what information needs to be "approved" by the Council, and were provided with more information on the upcoming DOE Educator's Summer Summit.


Quality Committee- July 15, 2014

In July, the Spark NH Quality committee looked at the graphic and design of the two Quality definition cards, one for families and one for providers. Minor changes will be made and disseminated to several groups for review and feedback. The Committee hopes to have these finalized in the next month or so and is working on a dissemination plan for these cards as well as other ways to disseminate the information. The committee will continue its work in August on reviewing the family and professional surveys regarding availability and access to resources to make recommendations to the Spark NH Policy committee.


Workforce and Professional Development Committee- July 25, 2014

The Workforce and Professional Development Committee identified some issues associated with the PORTAL.  We will reconvene the PORTAL subcommittee and meet with representatives from Spark NH to discuss next steps and ongoing support for the PORTAL.  We revisited the recommendations from the NH Higher Education Inventory conducted in July 2013 and identified recommendations to bring to the NH Higher Education Roundtable for follow up.  The Shared Professional Early Childhood Core Competencies (SPECC) subcommittee reported on progress toward revising and editing the competencies and received feedback from the WPD; the group will continue to work on revising the SPECCs. Tessa McDonnell reported on the progress of the workgroups for the Professional Development System project as well as her meetings with key decision makers to inform them about the project and build support.  Members of the WPD Committee are actively engaged in these workgroups and projects.  Our Committee meetings are well attended and very productive!


Policy Committee- August 4, 2014

Spark NH's policy scan consultant, Peggy Kieschnick, led a discussion of the narrowed-down grid containing ten policy recommendations in the areas of Good Health, Strong Families, and Positive Early Learning.  We discussed the pros and cons of prioritizing, criteria for selection, and policies in Good Health and Strong Families.  Next, we will continue Strong Families and finish Positive Early Learning policies.  Ellen Wheatley reported about the first meeting of the Task Force on the Child Care and Development Fund - it focused on changes in regulations.   There was a report on the NH Educators' Statewide Summit, which had an early childhood team funded by the NH Dept. of Education.


Data Committee- August 4, 2014

The Data Committee reviewed final edits of a Spark NH brief laying out the need for early childhood data integration in the state.  Peter Antal is working with a sub-committee to complete the Spark NH needs assessment and an executive summary to go with it.  The group hopes that the whole thing will be ready to release in September.  When it is released the committee will convene data stakeholders to discuss key early childhood indicators to use for assessment going forward. There has been no progress on early childhood data governance at this point.  The group discussed some data analysis by Family-Centered Early Supports and Services.


Family Partnership & Engagement Task Force- August 11, 2014

The Family Partnership and Engagement Taskforce continued talking about our 2014 Workplan.  We focused our attention on creating opportunities to get parent feedback more consistently. Family Resource Centers around the state were contacted for ask permission to use their parent groups as focus groups for Spark NH Policy Scan. We reached out to non-active members to re-engage them or to ask for other candidates to fill their spots at the table.  We also looked at the Quality Childhood Program fact cards for parents and made some suggestions.  We talked about how we could use this card to start some important conversations regarding families in NH. 


Executive Committee - August 12, 2014

Spark will be applying for a multi-year operating grant from Endowment for Health.  No new requests for project funds at this time but the Data Committee may have one in the future.  Several open council positions will be filled soon.  Erika Argersinger has agreed to Chair the Council if elected.  The Committee will work to find someone from the public sector for vice-chair.  Agenda for the August Council meeting and the retreat were discussed.  There's an opportunity for Spark NH to partner with Monadnock United Way on an Impact Monadnock proposal.  Updates on Coos Data Project and relationship with Coos County were discussed.  December Council meeting to be changed.       


Quality Committee- August 19, 2014

A small group of the Quality committee was able to meet in August. We reviewed feedback received from the Family Engagement Task Force on the Quality Definition "Family" card. A draft of both the "Family" and "Provider" cards will be disseminated to several provider or family groups for further feedback and final revisions will be made in September. We anticipate beginning our dissemination plan of the cards in October.  Next month we will continue to review our policy recommendations based on the early childhood programs and services survey and community café and the next steps for our committee. We invite new members to join us. Contact

Upcoming Meetings 

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


Thursday, September 4
9-10:30 am
Policy Committee
(usually every 1st Monday)

Friday , September 5
2-4 pm
Data Committee
(usually every 1st Monday)

Friday, September 5
9-10:30 am
Evaluation Committee 
(1st Friday of every other month)
Place: Endowment for Health, 14 South Street, Concord
Monday, September 8
12-2 pm
Policy Committee
(every 1st Monday)

Tuesday, September 9
1-3 pm 
Executive Committee
(every 2nd Tuesday)
Tuesday, September 16
9-11 am
Quality Committee
(every 4th Friday)

Thursday, September 25
9 am-3 pm
Council and Committee Retreat
Place: 84 Silk Farm Rd, Concord, NH
Friday, September 26
9-11 am
Workforce and Professional Development Committee Meeting
(every 4th Friday)

Monday, October 6

 9 am-12 pm 


Policy Committee
(Usually 1st Monday of every month from 9-10:30)

Monday, October 6
2-4 pm 

Data Committee
(Every 1st Monday)

Monday October 13
9-10:30 am

Family Engagement Task Force
(2nd Monday of every other Month)

Tuesday, October 14
12-2 pm

Executive Committee
(Every 2nd Tuesday)

Tuesday, October 21
1-3 pm

Quality Committee
(Every 3rd Tuesday)

Thursday, October 23
9-11 am

Spark NH Council 
(4th Thursday of every even month)

Friday, October 24
9-11 am 

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! 


Links of Interest     

The American Academy of Pediatricians released new data that shows that when a child faces adversity in their early years, their long term health and well being is affected. This new data is causing the AAP and other specialists to call for interventions that are both more effective and intensive.

This study followed 246 children from preschool to middle school and evaluated depression levels as the children developed. The study found the children who were identified as depressed in preschool were more likely to be depressed in elementary and middle school as well. 

CLASP has compiled a fact sheet that shows how several risk factors affect a child's development. The children who face one or more of these risk factors tend to have limited access to quality educational experiences which can lead to poorer educational performance or failure. The fact sheet also addresses investments made on the state and federal level that boost early childhood care and education programs. State level policies regarding access and quality are also examined. 

The Abecedarian Project enrolled infants in full day, five day a week, and year round care beginning in infancy.  The infants remained in the program for five years. During the five year period, the children had access to quality care programs. New findings show that these infants, who are now adults, have had less health problems and have a diminished risk for hypertension and other diseases. 

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation are committing themselves to discovering ways to reduce the culture of violence and focusing on the healthy development of social and emotional skills in children. The RWJF will be publishing new ideas and approaches on how to foster this healthy development and how to best support children who have experienced trauma. 

A study out of University of North Carolina and the College of New Jersey found that fathers greatly improve language development in toddlers. The researches found that fathers tend to use a broader vocabulary when reading and interacting with their toddler. 

Confidentiality Issues: Addressing Questions about Sharing Data among Organizations

The Early Learning Challenge Technical Assistance (ELCTA) has published best practices on how to store, provide access to, and how to analyze data covered by FERPA and HIPAA. The article provides answers to common questions on data sharing. 

Core Competency Modules 

The NH Children's Behavioral Health Workforce Development Network has  developed a set of core competencies. This document is comprised of six PDF files that explain the multiple early childhood competencies. The competencies include: Early Childhood Mental Health, Positive Behavioral and Interventions Support, Trauma Foundations, Family Engagement and Cultural and Linguistics. 


Utilizing Parental Homework as a form of Parent Involvement in Early Care and Education 

A new study on homework given to preschool parents set out to investigate if the assigned homework had an impact on the amount and type of interaction a child experienced from their parent. The study found that the parent homework has had significant benefits for the parent, child, and teacher. 

The Administration for Child and Families announce that they are beginning to address the affects of adversity and toxic stress during childhood. The Office of Planning Research and Evaluation (OPRE) will be releasing multiple reports on the impacts of toxic stress. The Administration for Child and Families have begun to call various programs under their umbrella to action. These programs will be able to provide resources and training opportunities for various traumas. 

The Health Resources and Services Administration provides a look into the results of the National Survey of Children's Health (NSCH). The survey covers risk factors that both support and hinder child growth on the national and state level. Survey methodology and a data, data findings, and a data set for public use is also provided.

The report provides eight recommendations for improving aligned, high-quality early education from birth through third grade. Each recommendation includes steps that can be taken by the various stakeholders who would be primarily responsible for a given intervention. It is a follow-up to an earlier report, which is linked below. 

In this report, New America reviews the state of education in post-Great Recession America. The findings are analyzed and recommendations for policy improvement are made. 

The Foundation for Child Development (FCD) recently published this new report which provides an analysis of 13 economic, education, and health indicators for children whose mothers have not graduated from high school, compared to children whose mothers have higher levels of education. The report highlights the value and need for comprehensive dual-generation strategies, which focus simultaneously on both children and parents, to better enable low-income children and families to overcome barriers to success. It is the second in a series of FCD reports on Disparities Among America's Children

Roadmap to Safeguarding Student Data

The Data Quality Campaign highlights the three focus areas-transparency, governance, and data protection procedures-that will allow states to reach these goals and provides a robust list of other resources from Data Quality Campaign and other organizations related to safeguarding data. 


Making the Link Between Health and Student 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 recently released a new interactive online tool, which is designed to help early childhood program leaders integrate meaningful health strategies with school readiness goals.


Evidence- Based Home Visiting: Potential for Cost Savings from Home Visiting Due to Reductions in Child Maltreatment 

A new brief from Casey Family Programs describes the evidence of effectiveness of several home-visiting program models in reducing child maltreatment and present the estimated costs of implementing these models. The brief focuses on four program models- Health Families of America (HFA), Nurse Family Partnership (NFP), Parents as Teachers (PAT), and SafeCare. The agencies implementing these models were part of a recent study of home-visiting costs conducted by Mathematica Policy Research and Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, whit support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and in partnership with Casey Family Programs. 


What State Leaders Should Know About Early Head Start

CLASP provides a guide for state leaders that are not as familiar with the Early Head Start program. The 11 key areas of Early Head Start (EHS) are addressed. The guide suggests various ways that state policy makers can align key areas of child care and early education with the EHS program. 


2014 KIDS COUNT Data Book

(Source: Annie E. Casey Foundation- July 22, 2014)

The 25th edition of the Annie E. Casey Foundation's signature KIDS Count Data book was released on July 22, 2014. Using an index of 16 indicators, the book ranks states on overall child well-being and in four domains: 1. economic well-being, 2. education, 3. health, and 4. family and community. The report also examines trends since 1990 and highlights policies and practices that have improved child health and development over the years. This year's report finds that U.S. children are improving on 10 out of the 16 indicators and over the past two decades, preschool attendance among three and four year olds has increased by 34%. However, a higher percentage of children live in poverty today than in 1990 and on most of the measures, African-American, American Indian, and Latino children continue to face steep barriers to success. Read some national and state news releases here. 


Child and Family Blog

(Source: The Future of Children - July 21, 2014)

The Child and Family Blog is a new project that brings together experts from across the world who share and conduct research related to the well-being of children and family. The emphasis is on improving the lives of children based on cutting-edge research. Articles are translated in multiple languages and are intended to serve as an international resource for the media, policy makers, professionals who care for children, and families. The blog is sponsored by The Future of Children, a collaboration of Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and the Brookings Institution, as well as the University of Cambridge Applied Developmental Psychology Group In England, and the Jacobs Foundation in Switzerland. 


How Much Could We Improve Children's Life Chances by Intervening Early and Often?

The Center on Children and Families at Brookings has released a study on the importance of targeted intervention. When children of low income families receive targeted intervention, the gap between less advantaged and more advantaged youth shrinks dramatically. The study takes an in depth look at cost effectiveness and the benefits of early targeted intervention. 


Kindergartners' Skills at School Entry: An Analysis of the ECLS-K

Mathematica Policy Research published their analysis of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 2010-11. Four risk factors were examined: single parent households, mothers with less than a high school education, households with incomes below the federal poverty line, and non-English speaking households. This analysis found that children facing all four risk factors were almost a year behind their non-risk facing peers in reading and math. Composite readiness scores, based on the child's academic and social skills, were created by the researchers.   


Exploring Instability and Children's Well Being: Insights from Practitioners, Policy Makers, and Researchers 

There is a growing awareness of the essential role of stability in children's healthy development and ability to learn - and of the negative consequences that instability can have. Instability can occur in a single domain of a child's life (change in school) or in multiple domains (loss in family income, food insecurity, divorce of parents, change in housing situation). A new paper from the Urban Institute, Exploring Instability and Children's Well-Being: Insights from a Dialogue among Practitioners, Policymakers and Researchers (July 2014), presents insights gleaned from a November 2013 meeting of policymakers, practitioners, and researchers about issues related to stability and instability in children's lives and identifies strategies to better support children's ability to learn and succeed. A companion report, provides commentaries from some of the meeting participants.


Collective Insights on Collective Impact 

The Stanford Review published a follow up to "Collective Impact" (Winter 2011). This piece evaluates the mindset shifts that are necessary in order to create large-scale changes.  


Confidentiality Toolkit: A Resources Tool from the ACF Interoperability Initiative

The Administration for Children and Families released a Confidentiality Toolkit. This resources is a step forward toward a future of collaboration between state and federal services. The Confidentiality Toolkit provides state and other local jurisdictions information and explanations of various federal laws that effect how human services are implicated. 


Caring for Our Children: Environmental Health in Early Care and Education

Environmental Health in Early Care and Education is a new resource that provides a list of health and safety standards that are known nationwide. These standards have a large impact on environmentally-healthy early care and education programs. This list was compiled through a joint effort between The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Public Health Association, and the National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care and Early Education. The information for this publication was gathered from Caring for Our Children: National Heath and Safety Performance Standards Guidelines for Early Care and Education Programs.


Building Partnerships to Address Family Homelessness

Head Start and Early Head Start are fostering strong relationships with other service providers to help families experiencing homelessness. Families experiencing homelessness are able to access various services because Head Start and Early Head start are expanding that access. This coordination and collaboration are knocking down barriers and creating solutions for family homelessness. 


Meeting the Child Care Needs of Homeless Families: How Do States Stack Up?

The Institute for Children, Poverty, and Homelessness reported on access to child care for families experiencing homelessness in the United States. The report evaluates each state's Child Care and Development Fund plan for 2014-2015. 


Renewing Head Start's Promise: Invest in What Works for Disadvantaged Preschoolers

Bellwether Education Partners published a paper that proposes changes to improve Head Start and their ability to better serve children and families. The paper covers recent reforms and Head Start's track record.


Segregation and Peers' Characteristics in the 2010-2011 Kindergarten Class: 60 Years after Brown v. Board

The Economic Policy Institute used the National Center for Education Statistics' Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 2010-11 (ECLS-K:2011) to look at school segregation based on race, income, and socioeconomic status. While looking at the racial composition of the classes, the researchers analyzed academic performance. The researchers came to realize they had several serious concerns and multiple questions based on the results of the study. 


Home Visiting Evidence of Effectiveness Review: Executive Summary 

The Home Visiting Evidence of Effectiveness Review began in Fall 2009. The Review was started as a way to transparently view the research literature comprised for the home visiting program. This Review also aimed to assess the effectiveness for home visiting program models. 


State Early Care and Education Updates 2014

The National Women's Law Center released an update on progress made in early care in education on the state level. The paper breaks down funding, policies,  and access to care assistance from state to state. 


An Effective Program to Treat Maternal Depression in Home Visiting: Opportunities for States 

The Moving Beyond Depression program released a study that highlights the risk factors and implications of maternal depression. Twenty six first time mothers were enrolled the Moving Beyond Depression study. The researchers recommend techniques and evidence based programs to treat maternal depression during home visits.