March 2015 Newsletter
In This Issue
Spark New Hampshire's website is
 Visit it today for up-to-date information about the great work Spark NH is doing to improve early childhood in New Hampshire.
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If you are interested in being involved in Spark NH, please contact
Director Laura Milliken at
2 Delta Drive
Concord, NH 03301
Tel: (603) 226-7900
Fax: (603) 226-7290
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Dear Friend of Spark NH,


I continue to be inspired and amazed by the level of energy and commitment that the volunteers who participate in Spark NH's Council and Committees bring to our work.  On a recent frigid morning, I arrived at a Spark NH Policy Committee meeting to find:


Jackie Sparks, the Executive Director of Children Unlimited, the family resource center in Conway, NH, who had driven to the 9:00 meeting in Concord. 


Marj Droppa, the Interim Project Manager for Impact Monadnock, the new early childhood initiative in the Monadnock region;


Kelley White, a pediatrician at Midstate Health Center in Plymouth; and


Alysse Coffey, Preschool Program Coordinator at the Dartmouth Hitchcock Child Care Center in Lebanon. 


A few minutes later the room was filled with committee members from all over New Hampshire, who work with or on behalf of children and their families in health, early learning and family support fields. 


The Policy Committee is just one of the 6 committees that draws talented early childhood experts from diverse regions and fields.  The individuals who participate in Spark NH Council and committees believe that the work of strengthening the early childhood system is worth working for, and they all do it on top of the work of their primary jobs. I feel in awe of their dedication and am so grateful to all who serve in this important way. 


The work that is being done in the Spark NH Committees continues to be innovative and exciting.  After an extensive and inclusive process, the Policy Committee has nearly finished the Spark NH policy priorities.  They will be released in the near future along with a white paper to detail why they are important and where New Hampshire is in achieving them. 


The Quality Committee is working to promote the cross-sector, shared definition of quality and to educate parents and providers of early childhood programs and services about how to think about quality. 


The Data Committee is working on indicators to tell the story of how New Hampshire's young children and their families are doing and is talking with early childhood initiatives around the state about shared indicators. 


The Communications and Public Awareness Committee continues to promote the importance of early childhood through its oversight of the "Children: the Bedrock of the Granite State" presentations around the state. 


The Workforce and Professional Development Committee is working toward a ground-breaking cross-sector, professional development blueprint. 


The Evaluation Committee is helping to monitor all the work in the Council and committees to make sure we are measuring the work we do and holding ourselves accountable to our funders and the public.


I feel lucky that it's my job to support this impressive work!


Respectfully submitted,


Laura Milliken, Esq.

Director, Spark NH


 "Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much."
- Helen Keller

Committee and Task Force Meeting Summaries   


Quality Committee - December 16, 2014                              

The Quality Committee was pleased to update its work plan by checking off items under "Develop and promote a shared definition of quality". We continue to promote the definition through the distribution of the quality definitions cards and the development of several slides that will be "ready-made" for programs and agencies to insert into PowerPoint presentations when talking about quality with providers or families. The committee is looking at next steps in our work, particularly around the activity of "Create Cross Sector Collaboration for Timely Identification of Child and Family Needs". If you are interested in joining our committee, now is a good time as we transition to some new activities! We meet the 3rd Tuesday of the month from 1-3 at Delta Dental.


Data Committee - January 4, 2015

The Data Committee reviewed with Peter Antal the preliminary results of the Stakeholder Survey (35 respondents to date). There is one more week for responses but so far there is diverse representation in respondents and an overall positive perspective on the usefulness of the Report. The Committee reviewed the work plan and the Charge and made some edits. It was also decided to request a presentation on the WISDOM dashboard from DHHS.


Policy Committee - January 5, 2015

The committee reviewed the latest draft of the ten, recommended early childhood policy priorities: three each in Healthy Children and Families, Positive Early Learning Experiences and Strong Families and one in Coordinated Systems. It was agreed that the list be tentatively titled, "An Agenda for New Hampshire's Young Children." The draft will be shared with the Office of the Governor. Next steps include: background research by NH Kids Count on the priorities and publishing a white paper on the priorities. The committee discussed the format for releasing the priorities. Updates were given on Spark NH's partnerships with regional initiatives and the Child Care and Development Fund task force.


Communications and Public Awareness Committee - January 7, 2015

The group started with a quick update on the policy priorities and Endowment for Health's project with NH Public Television. Discussed the quality definition cards for families and providers and brainstormed outlets for publicizing them. The 2-1-1 task force gave an update on their findings. Peter Antal joined to get feedback on data needs. Discussed the latest needs assessment report and plans for future work. Production has begun on the video and Lynn Davey is helping with the language and messaging. Future Bedrock presentations were discussed including an upcoming DOE/DHHS ambassador training.


Evaluation Committee - January 9, 2015

The Evaluation Committee discussed the use of a survey tool to gather data related to collaboration and after discussing several options, chose the Levels of Collaboration Scale. This survey will be fielded to the Council and results will be used to inform Spark NH leadership and to report to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) as part of the Project LAUNCH grant. The Committee is also working on finalizing and fielding the Spark NH Committee Member Survey which will be sent to all committee members. 


Executive Committee - January 13, 2015

 The committee debriefed the last Council meeting. The group discussed the director evaluation process and made suggestions for how to update it next year. The MOU with Early Learning NH was finalized. February's Council meeting agenda was set. The few Council positions that still need to be filled were discussed. The Committee will review the Council work plan on an annual basis. Each committee should review their work plans twice a year. The committee guidelines will be updated to reflect this change.   


Workforce and Professional Development Committee - January 23, 2015

The WPD Committee heard an update about the work of the Sustainable Early Engagement for Change (SEE Change) Task Force.  We identified individuals, organizations, and agencies that we will approach to request feedback about the Shared Professional Early Childhood Core Competencies (SPECCC).  We will also be developing a glossary for use with the SPECCC. Tessa McDonnell presented the final report for the State Professional Development Policy Blueprint Project.  The WPD Committee voted to serve as the Advisory body for the NH Ealry Childhood Professional Development System.  At our next meeting we will map out the work of the WPD Committee going forward in that role and identify additional members we will invite to join us in that work.


Executive Committee - February 11, 2015

The group met with Peter Antal to discuss Council data needs. A brief update on the budget and G&C approval of grants took place. The group reviewed the open positions on the Council. Laura gave updates on her meetings with DHHS leadership and the Governor's Office.  The Committee also reviewed and updated its work plan.       


Upcoming Meetings 

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


Monday, March 2, 9:00-10:30
Policy Committee (Every 1st Monday)
Monday, March 2, 2:00-4:00
Data Committee (Every 1st Monday) at Endowment for Health
Thursday, March 5, 10:00-11:30
Communications and Public Awareness Committee (1st Thursday of every other month)
Friday, March 6, 2:00-4:00
Evaluation Committee (Every other 1st Friday)
Monday, March 9, 9:00-10:30
Family Engagement Task Force  at NH Children's Trust
Wednesday, March 11, 1:00-3:00
Executive Committee (Every 2nd Wednesday)
Thursday, March 12, 8:30-4:00
Collective Impact: Improving Early Childhood Outcomes in New Hampshire - NH Audubon McLane Center, 84 Silk Farm Road, Concord
Tuesday, March 17, 1:00-3:00
Quality Committee (Every 3rd Tuesday)
Friday, March 27, 9:00-11:00
Workforce and Professional Development Committee (Every 4th Friday)

Monday, April 6, 9:00-10:30
Policy Committee (Every 1st Monday)
Monday, April 6, 2:00-4:00
Data Committee (Every 1st Monday)
Wednesday, April 8, 1:00-3:00
Executive Committee (Every 2nd Wednesday)
Monday, April 13, 9:00-10:30
Family Engagement Task Force (Every other Second Monday) at NH Children's Trust
Tuesday, April 21, 1:00-3:00
Quality Committee (Every 3rd Tuesday)
Friday, April 24, 9:00-11:00
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!  


New Hampshire Children's Trust is offering trainings around New Hampshire for anyone whose work involves children. 

The Strengthening Families Framework, developed by the Center for the Study of Social Policy, not only identifies what characteristics make families strong but tells us what everyday actions those of us who work with children and families can take to enhance those characteristics!  This training series received rave reviews when NH Children's Trust brought this training series around the state last year and we are beginning to schedule our 2015 dates now.  We begin this year's tour in Laconia on January 21.  The entire training series provides 16 training hours.  Please click here to learn more.  Space is limited so register today!  Please forward to anyone whose work touches children or families.  Look for trainings in Coos County, Claremont, the Seacoast and Strafford County among others in 2015.  You can always see what trainings we offer at



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.  



Links of Interest     

Early Care and Education 2014 Legislative Action
The National Conference of State Legislatures reviewed 2014 state legislation related to early care and education. This review includes more than 900 bills in 49 states. The report shares that of those 900 bills, 111 of them have been enacted or adopted into law in 35 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. These bills address the quality of child care, expanding and improving prekindergarten programs, boosting early literacy development in young children and promoting school readiness, and addressing early childhood governance issues and data collection.

QRIS and Inclusion: Do State QRIS Standards Support the Learning Needs of All Children

 The Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO)  released a Fast Facts sheet that identified which states accommodate children with special needs in their quality rating and improvement system (QRIS). States with exceptional inclusionary practices are highlighted.  The fact sheet also presents recommendations on how QRIS can be strengthened in the area of inclusive practice.


ZERO TO THREE's Babies on the Homefront Mobile App
Babies on the Homefront is a free app for cell phones. The app has been designed  to support military and veteran parents of young children. The app was made possible by the Robert R. McCormick Foundation. Babies on the Homefront provides many strategies, such as behavior tips, parent-child activities, and parental self-care strategies. The app is available in both English and Spanish.


Report on Child Maltreatment
The Children's Bureau published a report that presents recent national data about child abuse and neglect cases known to child protective services agencies in the United States. The nation's youngest children, as noted in the report, are the most vulnerable to maltreatment. More than one-quarter (27.3%) of victims reported are under the age of 3.

Basic Facts About Low-Income Children: Children Under 3 Years

A new fact sheet from National Center for Children in Poverty describes the demographic, socio-economic, and geographic characteristics of children and their parents. Infants and toddlers under age 3 appear to be particularly vulnerable, with 47% living in low-income families. The fact sheet highlights important factors that appear to distinguish low-income and poor children from their less disadvantaged peers.


What Works (and Doesn't)

Child Trends' What Works/LINKS database is a searchable database that includes hundreds of social interventions for children. The database includes descriptions of  programs targeted at improving child or youth outcomes. Programs must have had at least one randomized, intent-to-treat evaluation.


Child Homelessness is on the Rise
The number of homeless students, ages 6 to 18, is on the rise. Based on information reported by schools, the number of homeless students has risen from 795,000 in 2007 to 1.3 million currently. Students experiencing homelessness are more likely to have problems with anxiety, depression, be expelled or suspended, or drop out of high school. Homelessness among children can cause them to be separated from their parents by being placed in foster care, with family or with friends. The Child Trends DataBank has been updated based on this new data.

Joint Guidance
The US DOE and the US Department of Justice released joint guidance to remind states and schools that they must ensure that English learner students have equal access to high quality education, as it is their obligation under law. Along with the guidance, the Departments shared resources aimed to help schools with English learner students and their families with limited English proficiency. A fact sheet about equal education, a fact sheet about communicating information to students and families with limited English proficiency, and a toolkit were released to help schools better serve English language learning students and families. The fact sheets are available in other languages here and here.

Expanding Access to High Quality Child Care for Low-Income Families  

In a new blog post from the Department of Health and Human Services, President Obama's plan to expand access to high quality child care is addressed. The post outlines the importance of early childhood education by highlighting improved outcomes for children who receive high quality early education and the economic benefit for all.  


Helping All Working Families with Young Children Afford Child Care Fact Sheet
President Obama mentioned making high quality care accessible for all families in his 2015 State of the Union address. The White House released a fact sheet outlining the plan to make quality child care accessible for low and middle income families.

Financing for Primary Prevention
Mental Health America (MHA) published a paper entitled, "Preventing Mental, Emotional, and Behavioral Disorders: Financing and Implementation Strategies". This paper addresses funding challenges and provides solutions to those challenges. Strategies that are being implemented on the local, state, and national levels will be shared. MHA also provides two recorded presentations on primary prevention funding.

Building Executive Function Skills in the Early Years - January 2015 Brief
In January 2015, The Institute for Child Success released a brief entitled, "When Brain Science Meets Public Policy: Strategies for Building Executive Functioning Skills in the Early Years". This brief describes executive functioning and self-regulatory skills and how they develop. The role that child care providers play in fostering these skills is highlighted. Lastly, the brief explains how policy makers can promote strategies and investments that benefit early childhood health.

Low-Income Students Now the Majority of Public School Children
The Southern Education Foundation released a research bulletin entitled, "A New Majority: Low Income Students Now a Majority in the Nation's Public Schools". This piece uses 2013 data from the National Center for Education Statistics. The data shows that 51 percent of children attending public schools are identified as low-income. Using the NCES data, the report shares the consequences, both regional and national, that these new findings have in many domains.

Strategies to Enhance Hispanic Dual Language Learners in Early Childhood
The Educational Testing Service (ETS) recently released a report that examines key factors that can cause young Hispanic Dual Language Learners to be behind academically. The report reviews legislation that supports young Hispanic Dual Language Learners.

New Report on Screening for Behavioral and Emotional Problems
The American Academy of Pediatrics published a report on screening for behavioral and emotional problems in children. The prevalence of emotional and behavioral disorders, factors that put children at risk for these disorders, the screening processes of pediatric doctors and barriers to those screenings are discussed in this report. The report concludes with policy and systems level recommendations to improve screenings.

Four Pieces Address Expulsion and Suspension Practices in Early Learning Settings
Source: American Psychological Association
Expulsions in the preschool setting occur at a significantly higher rate than expulsions in grade school. Preschool expulsions effect young boys of color in a greatly disproportionate rate. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children and Families partnered with the APA to shine a light on this issue by publishing four blog posts on the American Psychological Society's website. The pieces are linked as follows:
What Could Make Less Sense than Expelling a Preschooler?
Quality Early Childhood Programs Found to Reduce Special Education Placements in Third Grade
A new study released by Duke University finds that children who attend state supported early childhood programs are significantly less likely to be placed in special education programs in third grade. The paper examines early childhood programs and investments in North Carolina.  The cost savings and the importance of early childhood programs are highlighted.

Common Education Data Standards Version 5 Released
The Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) is now available via the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).CEDS was created to be a national collaborative effort to develop mutual data standards to allow for consistent and comparable data that can be used by the states in all levels of education.