July 2015 Newsletter
In This Issue
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 better coordinate early childhood programs and services in New Hampshire.
Get Involved!
If you are interested in being involved in Spark NH, please contact
Director Laura Milliken at lmilliken@sparknh.org
2 Delta Drive
Concord, NH 03301
Tel: (603) 226-7900
Fax: (603) 226-7290
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Dear Friend of Spark NH,


Promoting the Spark NH Pledge to NH's Children

An important part of Spark NH's work is to improve understanding of the importance of early childhood.  The "Pledge to NH's Children" is an easy way for people to show they care about the health and well-being of all children in our state. It's also an easy way for us to show that we are building momentum for a focus on early childhood.  That's why we are now working to actively promote the pledge.

Approximately 385 people have already added their names to the pledge list to date.  If you are one of these early supporters, thank you! We would like to increase the numbers of individuals and organizations who have taken the pledge so that we can show how many people care about this issue.  We need your help to make that happen. 

Please bring the pledge back to your organizations, constituencies and co-workers and encourage them to sign the pledge.  Unlike other pledges they may have been asked to sign, this one is non- partisan, requires no money, and should not be controversial. Asking people to take the pledge is a great way to begin a discussion about the fact that investment in the early years is critical to the future of our state. To take the pledge, please visit our website at http://sparknh.com/pledge. Feel free to share this link with friends and colleagues. We also have pledge cards we can give you and that you can return to us filled out if you think your colleagues are more likely to sign up that way.

As a reminder, here's what the pledge says:


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.

In addition, anyone can "connect with Spark NH" by visiting our website, signing up for the newsletter, or filling out the action steps on the website: http://sparknh.com/action-steps.


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   


Workforce and Professional Development Committee - April 24, 2015

The WPD Committee made final edits to the draft Shared Professional Early Childhood Core Competencies (SPECCC) and finalized the version that will be shared with the constituencies that we have identified. This version of the SPECCC is also posted on the WPD Committee page at the Spark NH website. We agreed on a letter that will be used to introduce the SPECCC to various constituencies and identified which committee members will contact which constituencies. We determined the process for sharing the SPECCC, soliciting feedback, and sharing feedback with the WPD Committee. Committee members agreed to get feedback from constituencies before the September meeting.


Policy Committee - May 4, 2015

The committee heard updates about the "Framework for Action for New Hampshire's Young Children" white paper and research on these policy priorities.  Feedback from Spark NH's quarterly meeting with the Office of the Governor and the Commissioners of Education and HHS was shared.  The committee continued discussions about the release of the "Framework."  An update was given that the Spark NH Council allocated project funds for the committee's recommendation to continue collective impact discussions between regional partners of Spark NH.  Updates were given on Spark NH's regional partnerships and the CCDF taskforce.  Members were urged to attend the NH Listens sessions in May.


Communications & Public Awareness Committee - May 7, 2015

The group shared some current events including a newspaper article on public preschool from the Conway area; Child Development Bureau's open position; changes at the Farmington Child Care Center; October 5th Early Learning Nation event; and Spark NH's Community of Practice meetings.  The 2-1-1 Task Force gave an update on their work.  The final "We are the Granite State" video was shared and the group discussed strategies for utilization.  "Our Pledge to New Hampshire's Children" was discussed and strategies to get others to take the Pledge were brainstormed.  Past and upcoming Bedrock presentations were reviewed.  The Council's Race Matters work was also discussed.


Family Partnership and Engagement Task Force - May 11, 2015

The task force spent most of the meeting talking about the draft of the family engagement brochure and its purpose.  The task force has decided to move ahead with the brochure to help parents share their stories in order to make systemic change in the early childhood system with the understanding that the change is not going to be immediate, but part of a process. The task force believes that the brochure is a family friendly method of engaging parents.


Quality of Early Childhood Program and Services - June 16, 2015

The Quality Committee did not meet in May due to multiple conflicts. At our June meeting, we decided that our next task will be to create a couple of toolkits (one for programs and one for families) to promote collaboration and coordination among early learning, health and family support programs. The committee also reviewed the "Using a Race Equity Lens" presentation and considered our work on looking at equity and diversity and then structural and individual causes. The committee decided to go to a bi-monthly meeting schedule, so our next meeting will be August 18 from 1-3.


Workforce and Professional Development Committee - May 22, 2015

The WPD Committee began with a half hour Orientation for new committee members, followed by the regular meeting. We heard about progress on the draft Glossary that will accompany the Shared Professional Early Childhood Core Competencies (SPECCC) when they are sent to constituencies for review. Sue Foley gave an update on the Early Childhood Technical Assistance Advisory Group, EC ASSIST, and shared a draft of the group's strategic plan. She asked the WPD Committee to review the strategic plan and offer feedback and endorsement at a later meeting. Tessa McDonnell has been selected as the facilitator to work with the WPD Committee beginning in June to develop a strategic plan for addressing the recommendations in the Final Report on the Blueprint for the Cross Sector Early Childhood Professional Development System. That report is posted on the WPD Committee page of the Spark NH website. Pat Cantor will step down as Chair of the WPD Committee in September and Tessa McDonnell will become the new Chair; the Committee is still looking for a volunteer to serve with Tessa as co-chair.


Executive Committee - May 13, 2015

The Executive Committee debriefed the last Council meeting and drafted the agenda for next month's meeting.  The budget was briefly discussed.  Details about the DOE Summer Summit and the Early Childhood Strand were shared.  An evaluation of Spark NH, required by Project LAUNCH, was discussed and will take place at the next Council meeting.  A proposal to add new members to the Council was discussed.  A Bedrock training will take place at the October Council meeting.  An update on Regional Initiatives Community of Practice was given.  Needs Assessment work was reviewed.  The meeting with the Governor's Office and Commissioners went very well. 


Policy Committee - June 1, 2015

The Policy Committee will be rescheduling for a longer July meeting to further narrow the action steps recommended in the white paper to accompany the Framework for action.  The New Hampshire Charitable Foundation and the Endowment for Health will be choosing using 1-3 of these action steps to create an early childhood advocacy plan for the next 5 years.  The CCDF task force reported that there are many changes in CCDF policy which are still being defined.  Some of the regional early childhood initiatives updated the group on their work.


Evaluation Committee - June 5, 2015

The committee discussed the current status and timeline for the Spark NH Committee Survey.  They worked on amendments of and a process for implementation of the levels of Collaboration Scale.  A proposed methodology and process for updating questions to be used in the focus groups and interviews were discussed


Executive Committee - June 9, 2015

The committee finalized the June Council agenda, and reviewed the budget and the sustainability plan.  They reviewed the current Council membership and revisited the originally proposed Council membership list.  A proposed new membership will be brought to the Council for consensus during the June meeting.  There was a discussion around what committees will be doing with the Race Matters work.  An update on this year's Summer Summit was shared.  An update on the Regional Initiatives "Community of Practice" was given.  The committee also discussed a letter of support, the Pledge for NH's Children and Early Learning NH's October 5th event.  




Upcoming Meetings 

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


Monday, July 6, 2:00-4:00Data Committee Meeting (Every 1st Monday)
Monday, July 13, 9:00-10:30Family Engagement Task Force 
10 Ferry Street, Suite 315 
Tuesday, July 14, 12:00-2:00Executive Committee Meetings (Every 2nd Tuesday)
Tuesday, July 28, 10:00-12:00Communications and Public Awareness Committee (Usually Every Other 1st Thursday)

Monday, August 3, 9:00-12:00Policy Committee Meeting (Every 1st Monday)
Monday, August 3, 2:00-4:00Data Committee Meeting (Every 1st Monday)
Tuesday, August 11, 12:00-2:00Executive Committee Meeting (Every 2nd Tuesday)
Tuesday, August 18, 1:00-3:00Quality Committee Meeting (Every Other 3rd Tuesday)
Friday, August 28, 9:00-11:00Workforce and Professional Development Committee Meeting (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 


Released in May 2015, the Early Childhood State Advisory Council Final Reports provide summaries from all states and territories. The report features a brief overview, which includes a compilation of data from all 50 states and territories, and updates on required grant activities. 

Family Structure: Indicators on Children and Youth
The Child Trends Data Bank highlights the importance families have on the developmental outcomes in children. The report shares that the number of cohabiting couples has nearly tripled in the last eighteen years. The effects family structure has on children's well being is also included in this report. 

A Better Start: Why Classroom Diversity Matters in Early Education 
This April 2015 report provides results from a study that found racial/ethnic disparities in preschool enrollment. The study also found racial/ethnic disparities in the quality of preschool programs. The report includes a discussion of these disparities and suggestions about how to increase diversity in the preschool setting. 

The Center on the Developing Child at Harvard compiled a series of videos on resilience. The three part video series explains resilience, the science behind it, and how resilience is built. A working paper, Supportive Relationships and Active Skill Building Strengthen the Foundation of Resilience, expands upon the topics covered in the videos. Also included in the series is a paper that highlights the key concepts of resiliency.  

Innovation in Monitoring Early Care and Education: Options for States
A white paper out of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) along with the Administration for Children and Families and the Department of Health and Human Services shares recently developed national guidelines on health and safety in early care and education. While these guidelines are national, they vary from state to state. The purpose of the paper is to inform states about the upcoming changes during the implementation of the reauthorized Child Care and Development Block Grant 

The May 2015 issue of The Future of Children centers on the importance of child health. The issue includes how to promote child health. Child development is taken into account when discussing interventions and strategies to improve child health. The issue includes articles that connect neighborhoods, nutrition, mental health, and family centered programs to child health. 

Getting Attached: Parental Attachment and Child Development 
A blog recently posted to the Brookings Institute website promotes the importance of parental attachment. The blog post highlights findings from a three year longitudinal study, which demonstrates the importance of infant-caregiver relationships.  

The Faces of Early Head Start: A National Picture of Early Head Start Programs and the Children and Families They Serve
The Early Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey collected data from 89 Early Head Start programs, enrolled children, and their families. The data is presented in a booklet, created to be practitioner friendly, and the information paints a picture of the programs, children being served, and their families. 

Promising Evidence that Early Head Start Can Prevent Child Maltreatment 
In a recently published brief, results of the Early Head Start Research and Evaluation Project (EHSREP) are shared. The Project results suggest that Early Head Start may be effective in lowering child maltreatment risks in low income children. The EHSREP was funded by DHHS and there was participation from 1,247 children and families. 

Early Childhood Program Participation 
This report highlights data from the 2012 National Household Education Surveys Program Early Childhood Program Participation Survey. The survey collects data on families with a child birth through five years old, who were not enrolled in kindergarten in spring 2012. The Early Childhood Program Participation survey asks questions regarding children's participation in care and specific family activities. The survey also asks about parental satisfaction in regards to their child's care and parental involvement in their child's learning activities. 

Rising to the Challenge: Building Effective Systems for Young Children and Families
The BUILD initiative has released a five chapter E-Book, which highlights the learning process that states are going through during the implementation phase of the Early Learning Challenge Grant. Each of the five chapters are accompanied by an executive summary. The first three chapters are as follows: State Systems Building Through GovernanceLocal Systems Building Through Coalitions, and Early Learning - Health Connections

The Condition of Education 2015
The Institute of Education Sciences' National Center for Education Statistics published the Condition of Education 2015 in May. The report is released annually and mandated by Congress. Current trends in education are summarized, using the most recent available data. There are three sections directly related to early childhood: Kindergartner's Approaches to Learning Behaviors and Academic OutcomesPreprimary Enrollment, and Kindergarten Entry Status

The State of Preschool 2014: State Preschool Yearbook 
The National Institute for Early Education Research released their annual profiling of state funded pre-kindergarten programs in America. The report shows that 2013-2014 school year was a year of growth after the recession. State funding for pre-kindergarten rose for the second year in a row, but programs are still feeling the effects from 2011-2012 recession cuts. 

Early Education Gaps by Social Class and Race Start U.S. Children Out on Unequal Footing
A new report from Economic Policy institute examines the inequalities that are present before children enter kindergarten by social class and race/ethnicity in both cognitive and noncognitive skills. The report finds that social class is the most important factor when determining if a child is ready to learn upon entering kindergarten. The full report can be found here, Inequalities at the Starting Gate.

Understanding the Effects of Maltreatment on Brain Development 
An April 2015 issue brief explores the effects of maltreatment on brain development. The brief describes how the brain develops, how it is effected by maltreatment, a provides implications for practice and policy. 

New Video Illustrates the Importance of Inclusion for All Children
The Desired Results Access Project, out of California, has posted a video on their website that informs about how essential inclusion is in the early childhood setting. The video is roughly fourteen minutes long and shares the story of a young girl who attends class virtually. 

Early Childhood State Profiles and The Young Child Risk Calculator 
The National Center for Children in Poverty updated the Early Childhood State Profiles and the Young Child Risk Calculator. The Early Childhood State Profiles were updated to include state policies that affect the health and well being of young children in low-income families. The Young Child Risk Calculator has been updated to include an online tool to show how many young children, under six, are facing a serious developmental risks. The interactive tool allows users to select three age groups to view data. 

Dodging Equity Bombs and Avoiding "Fakequity"
A blog post from the Collective Impact Forum reflects upon equity and its true meaning. Erin Okuno shares her ideas on how to authentically engage with the communities your organization serves. The post shares what equity bombs are and how to best avoid them. Erin provides examples of "fakequity" and how to embrace true equity. 

Equity Matters in Collective Impact 
Angela Glover Blackwell presented the keynote address at the 2015 Collective Impact Convening in New Orleans. The purpose of this year's CI Convening was stress the importance of including an equity lens within collective impact work. Blackwell's keynote and the panel discussion that followed are available. 

Breaking the Cycle of Poverty in Young Families: Two-Generation Policy Recommendations 
A new report from the Human Services Assembly provides two-generation policy recommendations. The report identifies federal policy and regulatory changes that could improve opportunities and provides strategies to enhance policy on federal, state, and local levels. Colorado and Washington are highlighted as case studies, with Utah and Texas included as states to watch. 

The Center of Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes released a discussion guide based on state financing strategies for early childhood systems. The guide includes an overview of a strategic approach to funding, types of financing strategies, and how to ensure capacity to implement those strategies. The guide is designed to help state policymakers make informed decisions regarding financing strategies to improve early childhood education in their state. 

Building a Scaffolding of Support
As a follow up to "The Answer: A Scaffolding of Support", Heckman released eight guiding principles for effective investments in early childhood. These investments span social and economic outcomes. The one page document outlines the principles in eight bullet points, making it an easily shared resource. 

Child Trends Indicator 
The newest Child Trends Indicator was released in May 2015. This year's installment includes seven different topics that cover various aspects of child development. Indicators are shared on child welfare, administrative data linkage, and the state of children and families internationally. 

Invest in a Strong Start for Children: A Toolkit for Donors on Early Childhood
The Center for High Impact Philanthropy, out of the University of Pennsylvania, has organized a toolkit for donors on the importance of early childhood. The toolkit informs donors on what early childhood is, why it is important to invest, and strategies for donors. 

Starting Early: The Long Reach of Childhood Trauma 
The Connecticut Mirror originally published the Starting Early Series online. The Children's Fund of Connecticut compiled the works into one document and distributed the series. Arielle Levin Becker, a reporter for the Mirror, penned these articles during her participation in the National Health Journalism Fellowship. The overarching theme of the series is trauma and article topics include brain science, recognizing trauma, and talking about trauma. 

Most States Provide Inadequate Support for Working Women 
The Institute for Women's Policy Research compiled data on women in the workforce. The report found a significant lack of laws pertaining to paid family leave, paid medical leave, or paid sick days for private employees. The data can be viewed on a state by state basis, but the report also provides overviews. The Institute for Women's Policy Research assigned each state a score, the state rankings are included in the report. 

Policy Brief: Lessons from Sandy Hook 
A policy brief published by SAMHSA explains the importance of early childhood intervention, childhood mental health services, and the need for cross-system communication, all based on the lessons learned from the tragedy that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The brief provides recommendations in many areas such as, early screenings, family centered approaches, and ways to address gaps in services. Vermont services and programs are highlighted. 

How Early Experiences Alter Gene Expression and Shape Development 
An interactive feature out of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University shows how gene expression and development are affected by early experiences. The feature explains the effect that adverse childhood experiences have on early childhood development.