November 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,


Happy Birthday Spark NH! At three years old, Spark NH still enjoys participation in the Council and Committees from across health, family leadership and support and early learning and development. We have 7 vibrant committees and currently have 2 task forces that are working on important pieces of the early childhood system. These groups include members who work with and on behalf of expectant parents as well as children from birth through grade three and their families and include members from around the state. I won't steal the committees and task forces' thunder by crowing about their work here, but when I recently wrote my annual report to the Governor on the work of Spark NH (attached), I felt extremely impressed and proud of all the work that is being accomplished in our Council, committees and task forces.


Further, I am very happy to report that Spark NH's operating budget will be supported through a mix of public and private funding at least through December of 2015 and likely beyond. As you may know, Spark NH currently receives operating funding from Project LAUNCH (SAMHSA) and the Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems (ECCS) grant. These are both multi-year, federal grants that are received through the Maternal and Child Health Section at NH DHHS. ECCS is expected to extend through June of 2016, and Project LAUNCH  through June of 2017. Additionally, for the second year, through December 2015, Spark NH will receive funding from the federal Child Care and Development Fund through the Child Development Bureau at NH DHHS. The Endowment for Health recently decided to make early childhood a funding priority. As part of their early childhood field building approach, the Endowment will be providing core support to Spark NH in 2015 as well. Finally, last year the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation made a grant to support our operating expenses through December 2014, and we have applied for funding in 2015 to support our public awareness work. In all, a very strong way to enter our fourth year!


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- August 22, 2014

The WPD Committee heard an update from the Sustainable Engagement for Change (SEE Change) Task Force, which is implementing a federal grant for intensive technical assistance for teachers of young children birth to 5 with disabilities.  Tessa McDonnell reported on the progress of the workgroups for the Professional Development Policy Blueprint project.  The WPD Committee also discussed the latest version of the Shared Professional Early Childhood Competencies (SPECC) and provided feedback.  The SPECC subcommittee will continue to meet. At the request of the Professional Development project leadership group, we also discussed what we envision as the next steps for the SPECC.


Communications and Public Awareness Committee-September 4, 2014

The Committee edited the 2012 Committee Member survey. The new survey will be administered this fall to gather perceptions from Spark NH committee members about how things are going in the committees and what suggested changes they have. The group also discussed measurement of collaboration. Spark NH creates the conditions for enhanced connections among members but does not engage in interventions that create formal collaboration among members. However, the group agreed that trying to understand to what extent connections have been made is important. The group decided that the open-ended question in the Committee Member survey about collaborations that have occurred among members is the best way to gather this information. 

Evaluation Committee- September 5, 2014 

The Committee edited the 2012 Committee Member survey. The new survey will be administered this fall to gather perceptions from Spark NH committee members about how things are going in the committees and what suggested changes they have. The group also discussed measurement of collaboration. Spark NH creates the conditions for enhanced connections among members but does not engage in interventions that create formal collaboration among members. However, the group agreed that trying to understand to what extent connections have been made is important. The group decided that the open-ended question in the Committee Member survey about collaborations that have occurred among members is the best way to gather this information. 


Policy Committee- September 8, 2014

The Spark NH Policy Committee reviewed why they decided to prioritize, how they chose the initial list of Policy Areas to consider, the criteria they developed to guide decision-making, and Spark NH's role as an advisor.  The committee revised the list of policy priorities in the areas of Good Health, Strong Families, Positive Early Learning Experiences and Systems.  Next steps were reviewed and agreed upon.   An update was given on the Child Care and Development Fund task force.  The committee agreed getting family stories of how the policy priorities affect them and what is needed will be critical.


Executive Committee- September 9, 2014

The committee debriefed the last Council meeting and drafted the agenda for October.  The 2015 budget, which is fully funded, was reviewed.  A few of the grants still have to go through G&C. Updates on Impact Monadnock, Project LAUNCH and ECCS were given. The committee approved Katie Brissette as Deputy Director. There are several changes to council positions, including council leadership, that were brainstormed. The committee is looking into whether or not changes to bylaws need to be made in order to change our fiscal year. The final arrangements for the Council Retreat were discussed. The Governor's Report will be sent in October. New opportunities such as the Seacoast Women's Giving Circle were considered.  


Quality Committee- September 16, 2014

In September, the Spark Quality committee took a final look at the two Quality definition cards, one for families and one for providers and further discussed the dissemination plan. A small group of the Committee will finalize the cards and work with Spark Executive Director on having them printed.  The committee will continue its work in October on disseminating the cards and in reviewing the family and professional surveys regarding availability and access to resources to make recommendations to the Spark Policy committee.


Workforce and Professional Development Committee- September 26, 2014

The WPD Committee discussed the latest draft of the SPECC, which includes the addition of value statements for each of the SPECC categories.  The subcommittee will revise the SPECC based on the feedback and send the latest version to the WPD to review carefully before our October meeting, with the goal of finalizing the SPECC at that meeting.  We also generated ideas for how the SPECC can be used and shared with all sectors.  Tessa McDonnell presented a proposal for an Advisory Structure for the Professional Development project.  The PORTAL information cards have been reprinted.  WPD Committee members will distribute the cards to their constituents.  Additional cards are available from SPARK.

Upcoming Meetings 

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


Thursday, November 6
10-12:00 pm
Communications and Public Awareness Committee 
(1st Thursday of every other month)

Friday, November 7
2-4:00 pm 
Evaluation Committee 
(1st Friday of every other month)
Place: Endowment for Health, 1 Pillsbury Street, Suite 301, Concord
Monday, November 17
9-12:00 pm
Policy Committee
usually every 1st Monday of every month from 9-10:30 am) 

Tuesday, November 18
12-2:00 pm 
Executive Committee
(usually every 2nd Tuesday)
Tuesday, November 18
1-3:00 pm
Quality Committee
(every 3rd Tuesday)

Friday, November 21
9-11:00 am
Workforce and Professional Development Committee
(Usually every 4th Friday) 


Monday, December 1



Data Committee 
(every 1st Monday)  
Monday, December 9
2-4 pm 

Executive Committee
every 2nd Tuesday)  
Monday, December 16
1-3 pm

Quality Committee
every 3rd Tuesday)  
Tuesday, December 26

Workforce and Professional Development 
every 4th Friday) 
Tuesday, December 11 
Bi-Monthly Council Meeting 
(Usually 4th Thursday of every other month

Upcoming Events, Workshops and Webinars


Where Do Children's Minds Come From? The Relational Roots of Healthy Brains 

Presenter: Allan Schore, Ph.D., Award Winning researcher and professor, David Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA 

Wednesday, May 20th, 1-5pm

Wilder Event Center, 2087 Hartford Ave., Wilder, VT


Allan Schore was the first neuropsychologist to relate brain development to the quality of babies' attachment. His 1994 book, Affect Regulation and the Origin of the Self, changed the climate of scientific opinion about the nature of the mind. This workshop will describe how early experience shapes children's brains, how it builds mental capacity to manage feelings and behavior. Workshop participants will learn how they can promote self-regulation in young children and strengthen these functions in troubled older children. The workshop will consist of two 75-minute lectures, each followed by discussion. Bring you questions to this leading expert in brain science. Talk with him about its surprising and hopeful implications. This advanced workshop is designed for childcare directors and staff, and all persons interested in child development (including early interventionists, preschool special educators, home visitors, mental health professionals, and teachers). This rare opportunity is co-sponsored by the Child Care Project at Dartmouth College, the Early Childhood Mental Health Network of the Upper Valley, and Let's Grow Kids. The workshop fee is $40, with scholarships available. To register, contact the Child Care Project at 603-646-3233.


Promoting Life-Long Health: The Psychological Roots of Physical Well-Being 

Presenter: Allan Schore 

Wednesday, May 20th, 7:30-9pm

Filene Auditorium, Moore Hall, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH


In this 45-minute lecture, Schore will describe how early psychological experience establishes habits of mind, body, and behavior that set the path for life-long health or disease. This lecture is designed for all how care about children's development, form policy makers to parents, and will be followed by a 45-minute discussion. Bring your questions about how brain science applies to our community's children. This lecture is co-sponsored by the Early Childhood Mental Health Network of the Upper Valley and by Let's Grow Kids. It is free and open to the public; certificates of attendance will be available. 


Save the date for NH Children's Trust Strengthening Families Summit on March 30, 2015! Registration opens January 5th. Click here for more information.  


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


Links of Interest     

A new report from Ascend at the Aspen Institute highlights ten policy ideas that both federal and state policymakers can immediately implement to help families break out of the cycle of poverty. The report, Top Ten for 2Gen, focuses on two-generation approaches that work with parents and children together rather than in isolation. Strategies highlighted include strengthening family and parent supports in the Head Start and Early Head Start programs; increasing support for economic security outcomes in home visiting programs; and reforming financial aid programs to better help parents of enrolled students.  
The Center for the Study of Social Policy published an article with research and data that further scientifically backs up their Strengthening Families Approach and Protective Factors Framework. The report underlines the need to provide help in all 6 areas of the social ecology in order to make a change in the lives of families. 


A new report from the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment, Building a Skilled Teacher Workforce: Shared and Divergent Challenges in Early Care and Education and in Grades K-12 (September 2014) by Marcy Whitebook, discusses the public perception of early childhood teaching, the history and purpose of education for children of different ages, key features of the personnel systems that have emerged from these varied roots, and suggestions for promoting a skilled and stable early care and education workforce for the 21st century. 
The Urban Institute recently published its eighth annual report examining federal spending and tax expenditures on children. The report shows that federal funding for children increased during 2012-2013, in comparison to other programs, children received a smaller portion of funding. The Urban Institute delves into federal expenditures on children by breaking down spending by program and category and comparing federal spending on children and the elderly. The report also covers budget trends, starting in the 1960s.  The Urban Institute closes their report with projected spending and expenditures on children.  
Harvard University published a new online training model, Building Brain Architecture: The Foundations of Lifelong Learning, Health, and Achievement. The module provides an overview of how early child and brain development happens, how it can be derailed and supported, and what effects early development can have on lifetime health and learning. It was a joint project of a cross-agency working group in Washington state and Frontiers of Innovation and was created to serve all adults whose decisions affect children, youth, and families. It takes about 30 minutes to complete

Hispanic children are the largest racial/ethnic minority group of children in the U.S., and also the fastest-growing. A new report from the Child Trends Hispanic Institute provides a statistical portrait of these children, drawn from the latest nationally-representative data. It highlights both positive trends among Hispanic children, as well as challenges that place them at a disadvantage from an early age relative to many other children in the U.S. One notable area of growth highlighted in the report is education. 


A new brief from CLASP discusses recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau Current Population Survey (CPS) showing that in 2013, the overall child poverty rate fell for the first time since 2000. The poverty rate for children under age 5 fell from 24% in 2012 to 22% in 2013, however young children still have the highest poverty rates among any age group and the rate is even higher for young Black children (44%) and young Hispanic children (33%). To learn more about these findings, their implications, and steps that can be taken to address child poverty in the U.S. 
The Office of Head Start's National Center on Parent, Family, and Community Engagement (NCPFCE) recently published a new resource, Building Partnerships: Guide to Relationships with Families, which explores the role that positive goal-oriented relationships play in effective parent, family, and community engagement. It is intended for the Head Start and Early Head Start community and professionals in the early childhood field. It offers definitions, tools, and guides for reflective practice and supervision.  

A new report from the Ounce of Prevention Fund, Start Early to Build a Healthy Future: The Research Linking Early Learning and Health (September 2014), summarizes new research on what children need to get a healthy start in life and discusses the positive effects of nurturing relationships, safe and secure environments, access to nutrition, health-promoting behaviors, and enriching early learning experiences. The authors provide policy and practice recommendations for supporting children's lifelong health through quality early care and education programs, as well as improved coordination and integration across agencies involved with young children and their families.


A new supplement of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) focuses on Use of Selected Clinical Preventive Services to Improve the Health of Infants, Children, and Adolescents - United States, 1999-2011. The supplement includes a number of reports on developmental screening of young children in the United States, including for example:

The Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University has released an activity guide full of activities that can foster and build executive function and self regulation skills. This guide provides activities tailored to multiple age groups, from infants to teenagers. 
The brief provides information about how state policies can strengthen two-generation supports for families with young children and promote the well-being and life opportunities of both parents and children. 
Child Trend's new report highlights findings from their survey of state's child welfare spending. The survey found that spending is at its lowest level since the SFY 1998 survey. 
The American Academy of Pediatrics designed a six part series for primary care practitioners. The tool box focuses on trauma and how pediatricians and other primary care practitioners can best support children and families who have been exposed to trauma.   
The Endowment for Health awarded thirty nine grants in an effort to support health-related initiatives and projects. Most of the grant money that was awarded went to support projects that focus on early childhood and the elderly. The press release provides a description of the projects that were awarded grant funds. 

Many mothers struggle daily with depression. People who work with mothers with young children are in a position to address a very serious problem that often goes unnoticed. This toolkit is designed for community-based providers, including those in home visitation programs; workers in the WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) program; and staff in Early Head Start, Head Start, and other child care programs. The toolkit delivers background information about depression and offers ideas that providers can use daily when helping mothers, and their families, who may be suffering from depression. The toolkit also includes useful resources and handouts for mothers with depression.   


This app provides parents and grandparents with fun ideas for keeping babies and toddlers entertained and learning, especially during daily routines like commuting time, chores, bedtime and bath time, mealtime, shopping. There are also "boredom busters" for any time. Parents can search activities by age (0-18 months, 18-36 months, and 3-5 years), tag favorites, and share activities via social media. All of the activities reflect children's typical skills at each age and are designed to support development in the context of play and family routines.


Brain development researchers have found that the emotional and social development of children is as important-if not more important-than their cognitive development. This is because when children form secure attachments (close emotional bonds built on love and trust) with parents and caregivers, they more easily explore the world around them, regulate their own emotions, and can comfort themselves when needed.


2014 Prevention Resource Guide: Making Meaningful Connections 
The 2014 Prevention Resource Guide: Making Meaningful Connections from the Administration for Children and Familieswas created primarily to support community-based child abuse prevention professionals who work to prevent child maltreatment and promote well-being. 


More children attend preschool and all-day kindergarten than ever before. Federal and state programs are urging educators to use evidence-based approaches to improve their work to support families' involvement with their children and the school. This review sheds light on the impact of well-designed interventions to boost family involvement and finds they may be a critical support for children's early learning in reading and math

Latest Early Childhood Data Systems Survey Standards for Systems of Care for Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs

The Early Childhood Data Collaborative released the findings from its 2013 Early Childhood Data Systems Survey. This report highlights how well states are managing data systems and sharing information related to young children's ability to succeed when they enter school and beyond. In particular, it focuses on how well states are following the 10 Fundamentals of Coordinated State Early Care and Education Data Systems.


The Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs has released a set of standards and companion background white paper designed to help communities, states, and the nation build and improve systems of care for children and youth with special health care needs (CYSHCN).


This study is a follow up to one done earlier in the year with Pennsylvania Head Start workers. Since the original study, the workers have improved their mindfulness, which in turn, has improved their overall health. Read the original study here
New Initiative to Bridge the Word Gap


The Society for Research in Child Development released a social policy report on the effects that child abuse and neglect has on the development of the child. The report and brief focus on early exposure to neglect and abuse, and later life outcomes, and provide policy and practice recommendations.


The Obama administration is working with the Department of Education, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services to bridge the word gap. These services will work together to inform parents, caregivers, and teachers on how to promote language and brain development. 


ZERO TO THREE recently launched a new multimedia web portal designed to provide parents, professionals, and policymakers with resources to close the word gap and support early language and literacy. Beyond the Word Gap highlights the importance of close, nurturing relationships with trusted adults for children's early language skills and all aspects of development. It features resources in both English and Spanish, including mobile apps, interactive online tools, videos, infographics, podcasts, policy materials, and more. 


On October 20, 2014, the Education Commission of the States released Initiatives from Preschool to Third Grade: A Policymaker's Guide (October 2014). This primer for policymakers addresses five strategies to support children on their path to third-grade academic success (preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds; effective transitions between preschool and kindergarten; full-day kindergarten for 5-year-olds; kindergarten entrance assessments; policies to promote third-grade reading proficiency) and the foundations of effective P-3 approaches (high-quality P-3 programs; aligned P-3 standards, curricula and assessments; efficient P-3 financing; effective P-3 governance). 


A new brief from the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), First Steps for Early Success: State Strategies to Support Developmental Screening in Early Childhood Settings(October 2014) explores the role of child care and early education programs in connecting children to developmental screening, as well as national efforts and funding streams to support developmental screening and its relationship to early childhood. The brief includes state policy examples and recommendations stakeholders can draw on when considering how to expand access to developmental screening in early childhood settings. 

On October 22, 2014, the National Women's Law Center released a new state-by-state report, Turning the Corner: State Child Care Assistance Policies 2014. The report examines five critical child care assistance policies that affect the help families can get in paying for child care and finds that families in 33 states are doing better under one or more of these policies than they were last year. However, in 13 states, families are worse off than they were before under one or more policies. This is the second year in a row in which the situation for families improved in more states than it worsened.


The Birth to 5: Watch Me Thrive! initiative has added two new resources in Spanish to their collection of materials. This collaborative initiative of the Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Education (ED) was launched to help families look for and celebrate milestones; promote universal screenings; identify delays as early as possible; and improve the support available to help children succeed in school and thrive together with their peers. The new resources in Spanish include: Providos Cuidado y Education Infantil (Early Care and Education Providers Guide) and Del Nacimiento a los 5! Informacion y Destacados (Birth to 5! Information and Highlights).  
The Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) 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. A draft Version 5 of the Common Education Data Standards is now available for public comment online until November 13, 2014. The Version 5 draft spans P-20W (early learning through workforce). New and updated early learning elements can be viewed by selecting "Early Learning" in the "Filter by Domain" drop-down menu and then "new" or "updated" CEDS elements. Instructions for submitting comments are available here
Child Trends has published a new report focused on family support programs and strategies for reaching and engaging black and Latino families, with the ultimate goal of supporting young children's development. Culture Counts: Engaging Black and Latino Parents of Young Children in Family Support Programs (October 2014) presents a synthesis of available research on parent engagement and potential barriers to parent engagement in family support programs and provides recommendations for designing, adapting, and evaluating programs with culture in mind. It was funded by the Alliance for Early Success. 
On October 12, 2014, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a toolkit with information and resources for pediatric health care professionals and families about the benefits of promoting early literacy and early learning for children. The Books Build Connections Toolkit also provides tips and publications to help encourage families to talk, read, and sing with their children. The toolkit is a follow-up to the AAP policy statement on promoting early literacy that was released in June 2014. 
Between 1998 and 2014, the Promising Practices Network (PPN) on Children, Families and Communities ( provided information on programs and practices that credible research indicated are effective in improving outcomes for children, youth, and families. A new publication from the RAND Corporation, Programs That Work, from the Promising Practices Network on Children, Families and Communities (2014), includes summaries of all of the programs that were reviewed by the PPN and met the criteria for either a Promising or Proven program, as listed on the PPN website in June 2014, when the project ended. Programs are listed by categories, such as age of the child when the intervention takes place, delivery setting, and outcomes improved 
From May to September 2014, six states participated in a BUILD Initiative and QRIS National Learning Network-supported Learning Table on the topic of assuring that state Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRISs) are responsive to children who are culturally, linguistically and socio-economically diverse. Materials from the 2014 Diversity/Equity Learning Table are now available online. They include PowerPoint presentations, curated topical resource lists, briefs, reports, articles, and state examples.