September 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 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
2 Delta Drive
Concord, NH 03301
Tel: (603) 226-7900
Fax: (603) 226-7290
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Dear Friend of Spark NH,

Spark NH Community of Practice
As most of you know, there are now a number of early childhood related regional initiatives in New Hampshire.  Spark NH recently was awarded a grant from the Endowment for Health to help to link these early childhood initiatives to each other and to the state-level work of Spark NH. We will meet monthly to share expertise and to develop opportunities for shared learning, projects and alignment.  Through this collaboration we hope to highlight exciting emerging work and encourage replication of best practices throughout the state.  Additionally, we hope that the community of practice will help to ensure that systemic issues that emerge at the local level are brought to the Spark NH committees and Council and that Spark NH's work will be aligned with work at the local level. 
Participating are the Directors or Early Childhood Coordinators of the Coos Coalition for Young Children and Families; Project LAUNCH Manchester; Belknap County Financial Stability Partnership; Safe Schools, Healthy Students grant in Laconia, Concord and Rochester; Impact Monadnock; Carroll County Early Childhood Coalition; as well as Spark NH.
As the Community of Practice goes forward it is my goal to highlight regional early childhood work regularly in this newsletter.

Impact Monadnock
Spark NH is one of the backbone organizations (along with Monadnock United Way) for Impact Monadnock (IM), the early childhood development initiative in the Monadnock Region. IM is embarking on a strategic planning process to choose its priority areas of focus.  The IM board recently decided that they would begin their work prioritizing policies from the Spark NH Framework for Action.  It has been our hope that as new regional initiatives form they would build on the work of other regional initiatives and Spark NH so I am thrilled IM has made this decision. 
Marjorie Droppa, the Project Director of IM has been participating in the Spark NH Data and Policy Committees as well as the Spark NH Community of Practice and I am participating in the IM Strategic Planning process.  These synergies strengthen both organizations and will help to ensure that work done at the regional level will inform and strengthen work at the state level and vice versa.

October 5 Business and Education Event
On October 5th from 8:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m., the New Hampshire Forum on the Future, Business New Hampshire Magazine, the New Hampshire Department of Education and the New Hampshire Coalition for Business and Education are hosting, "Transforming Tomorrow's Workforce Today: A First in the "Early Learning Nation" Event."  This link will provide you with more information and the opportunity to register for this one-of-a-kind event. 

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    

Policy Committee Meeting - June 1, 2015
Peggy Kieschnick and Erika Argersinger shared updated the committee on how the White Paper for "A Framework for Action for New Hampshire's Young Children" is going. Kim Firth shared that the Endowment for Health and the Charitable Foundation would like to prioritize 1-3 early childhood policy priorities for the next 5 years and create an advocacy action plan. The committee was given an update from the CCDF task force. Spark NH's regional partnerships shared their updates as well. 

Evaluation Committee Meeting - 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.

Quality Committee Meeting -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. 

Workforce and Professional Development Committee Meeting - June 26, 2015
The WFPD committee began the next phase of developing a Cross Sector Early Childhood Professional Development System.  The following process will be used for determining the work plan for the Blueprint implementation: Define Criteria for Prioritizing Projects, Clarify and Refine Recommendations, and Rate Recommendations by Criteria.  The WFPD Committee   deliberated and discussed specific measurable criteria in the following categories: Customer Impact, Cost/ Investment, Human Resources, Stakeholder Collaboration, Time, Ease of Completion, Value and Evaluation. Following this, the committee began to review each of the Working Groups Recommendations to clarify, revise, or edit based on group understanding and consensus.  

Data Committee Meeting - July 6, 2015
The Data Committee had an update that Kim F and Laura M continue to work with the folks from WISDOM to look at adding in early childhood data sets.  The committee reviewed the ranking of our indicators with Peter Antal and offered feedback on the rating process.  The identified goal is to have indicators that further the Mission of Spark and to connect data sets that support and communicate progress on the indicators. The Data Dictionary was also reviewed.  

Executive Committee Meeting - July 14, 2015
The Executive Committee debriefed the last Council meeting and drafted the agenda for next month's meeting.  The budget was briefly discussed.  The final recommended changes to the Council were brought to the Governor's Office for approval. Mary Earick will be the DOE representative until they hire a new EC person. Laura gave an update on the work of the Family Engagement Task Force because it is under the purview of the Executive Committee. The committee was updated on the Equity work. Information was shared about the DOE Summer Summit and their Early Childhood Strand. 

Policy Committee Meeting - August 3, 2015
Peggy Kieschnick recapped the process of how the Framework Recommendations were chosen. She and the committee reviewed the Draft Recommendations and members shared feedback on the wording. Peggy shared next steps and where the Framework for Action is headed. Updates were given on the CCDF task force and on Spark NH's regional partnerships. 

Executive Committee Meeting - August 11, 2015
The Executive Committee drafted the agenda for this 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.  Laura informed the committee of the Governor's Office response to their request for additional Council seats. The committee drafted a response to the Governor's Office.  A Bedrock training will take place at the October Council meeting. 
Upcoming Meetings 

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

Thursday, September 3rd, 10:00-11:30Communications and Public Awareness Committee
(1st Thursday of Every Other Month)
Friday, September 4th, 2:00-4:00Evaluation Committee
1 Pillsbury St. Suite 310, Concord, NH, 03301
(1st Friday of Every Other Month)
Wednesday, September 9th, 1:00-3:00Early Childhood Data System Committee
(Usually Every 1st Monday)
Monday, September 14th, 9:00-10:30
Policy Committee
(Every 1st Monday) 

Friday, October 2nd, 10:00-12:00 Workforce and Professional Development Committee
(Usually Every 4th Friday)
Monday, October 12th, 1:00-2:30 Family Partnership and Engagement Task Force
NH Children's Trust, 10 Ferry St., Concord, NH 03301
(2nd Monday of Every Even Month)
Tuesday, October 20th, 1:00-3:00Quality of Early Childhood Programs and Services Committee
(3rd Tuesday of Every Other Month)

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

N.O.F.A.S. Awareness Day 
National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (N.O.F.A.S.) New Hampshire will be hosting the N.O.F.A.S. Awareness day on Wednesday, September 9th, 2015 at the Keene State College. Click here for more information. 
Healthy Homes Conference
Registration for the 2015 Healthy Homes Conference is open. The 5th annual conference will be held on October 5th at the Grappone Conference Center in Concord. Click here for more information and to register.   

Links of Interest 

The May 2015 issue brief from Children's Bureau introduces the topic of trauma informed care in the child welfare system. The piece describes what trauma and the effects trauma can have. Once covering the trauma basics, the brief highlights five areas of the welfare system that can be improved to create a trauma-informed system. Partnerships and collaboration are emphasized throughout as a way to ensure success in creating a trauma-informed system. 

The Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO) published a guide for state policymakers. The guide was created to help those policymakers make informed decisions regarding early learning funding. The report includes types of financing, financing strategies, and tips on how to ensure capacity once the financing strategies are in place. 

The Autism Navigator is an online tool for parents, caregivers, and professionals. This web-based platform includes recent research, courses, and interactive video clips. The goal of the platform is to bring science and community practice together. 

The Administration of Children and Families released voluntary standards that share minimum standards that experts advise should be in place when children are being cared for outside of their homes. ACF explains that these standards should be used as a baseline when working to improve quality standards in early childhood settings. 

The 2015 State Baby Facts are presented in a state by state fact sheet. Each fact sheet provides information on the status of babies, infants, and families in each state and the District of Columbia. The information is broken into three categories; good health, strong families, and positive early learning experiences. 

The State Public Health Autism Resource Center has created a set of screening resources to help Title V Maternal and Child Health Programs engage stakeholders and implement screening services. The resources include a case study, a scan of programs with developmental screening in place and a matrix that includes information on states that have assistance programs related to developmental screening. 

What Works Clearing House released a summary on findings from a study on the effectiveness of Head Start. Children, ages 3-5, who have yet to start kindergarten but are enrolled in a Head Start center based program were the focus of this study. The study found that Head Start potentially has positive effects on general reading achievement. 

An online Parent Portal has been created by ZERO TO THREE for parents and caregivers. The portal was created to bring science-informed resources to parents and caregivers. Information is broken up into seven categories, each designed with tips and information for parents and caregivers to positively affect their child's development.  
Child Tends DataBank released indicators on children and youth regarding early school readiness. Child Trends uses the National Educational Goals Panel definition of school readiness. Readiness is measured with an indicator that includes four skills tied to early literacy and cognitive development; ability to recognize letters, count to 20 or higher, ability to write name, and read words in a book. Information is divided into multiple categories including gender, race and Hispanic origin, and age. 

Too Small to Fail in conjunction with the Departments of Health and Human Services, and Education has created a toolkit to enhance early childhood language acquisition. Tip sheets are available in English and Spanish and are geared to parents, caregivers, and teachers to build a strong language foundation starting at birth.  

The latest installment of the KIDS COUNT Data book finds that the area of child health and education has improved over the years. The number of children in poverty has increased. Child well-being is assessed in four domains: economic well-being, education, health, and family and community. 

The American Psychological Association designed a toolkit for parents to boost resilience and reduce the effects of stress in children. Tips on how to reduce stress in the home, neighborhood community, child care, school, and resources. 

A Parent Checklist from the Department of Education provides parents and caregivers with questions, tips, and tools to use when helping your child transition from home to school. The questions relate to five areas of school performance and the tips expand on those questions. 

The Spring 2015 issue of the Early Child Research and Practice is available online. The ECRP is an online journal that is available in multiple languages. The Spring issue focuses on the landscape of care and education in Illinois. The journal includes research findings, two pieces on digital technology, and pieces on child engagement. 

This special issue of Early Childhood Matters celebrates the 50th anniversary Bernard van Leer Foundation's first grant in early childhood. The issue provides an overview of the first early childhood grant and includes research on various topics such as brain science, nutrition, home visiting, and more. 

Early Childhood Development, an office of the Administration for Children and Families, hosted a webinar series on suspension and expulsion in early childhood settings. The full series is available online and includes the following topics: basic research, policies, program quality and professional development, and using data systems. Resources to aid in the process of eliminating suspension and expulsion for states, early childhood programs, families, and community partners are available. 

A new CEELO FastFact discusses the topic of retention in the early years. The FastFact includes a definition of early retention, a literature review of the effects of early retention, and provides alternatives to retention. 

The Institute of Medicine and The National Research Council released a guide that lays out an action plan based upon the Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth Through Age 8: A Unifying Foundation. The 16-page guide shares ways to support quality professional practice, competencies for professionals working with children, characteristics of high quality professional learning, and ways to improve professional learning. The piece also includes recommendations for higher education. 

A research brief from Child Trends explores the factors that lead to the development of "mean" behavior and aggression in young children. The brief shares evidence based practices and intervention strategies modeled to prevent bullying behaviors. 

The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) researched the long-term impacts on health and healthy behaviors of two of the most cited early childhood intervention projects in the U.S.; the Perry Preschool Project and the Carolina Abecedarian Project. The research found that the projects have statistically significant effects on the behavior of project participants. 

This short video shares how five home visiting models spread throughout the country. Each of the five models are evidence based. They do not encompass all of the home visiting programs in the U.S., but the video paints a picture of how these programs grew to provide an array of programs to communities. 

This E-Book shares information learned throughout the implementation stages of the Early Learning Challenge grants. Trends and reflections are shared as well. Interviews with state leaders are included to share the states' perspective.

According to Child Trends, substantiated child maltreatment has declined over the past six years. The rate of substantiated cases has not been this low since 1990. The report from Child Trends covers the importance of these statistics, trends, and more. 

A report from the Child Trends Data Bank explores seat belt use in children eight and under. The report finds that the use of safety belts has declined since 2012. The report shares local, state, and and regional data as well as national goals. The importance of safety belt use as well as the importance of this data set is investigated. 

A Research-to-Policy Resource List has been published by Child Care & Early Education Research Connections. The list has been compiled after a comprehensive search for resources for children 0-6 facing homelessness. Reports, articles, and reviews are included as resources. This report is aimed at helping children in early care who are experiencing homelessness. 

Child Care & Early Education Research Connections explored the topic of social competence in preschool children. The report looks to draw connections between social competence and social preference and bullying. Three hundred 3-6 year olds participated in the study. Researchers collected data from student observations and teacher reports. 

A video and infographic from the Data Quality Campaign explains the importance of student data. The video labels the multitude of data streams that are available and the importance of using data from a variety of sources. Data streams that can work together are highlighted and their use is emphasized. 

The Tamarack Learning Centre highlights the importance of engaging the community in collective impact. The article, by Liz Weaver, explores the challenges and opportunities that present when trying to engage a variety of partners. 

The Canadian Research and Resource Unit drew out important findings from an extensive 2012 report from the Irish Research Council. The study conducted to research the importance child care arrangements have on infants and young children. The Research and Resource Unit highlighted the main findings and provided policy recommendations, as well as paths to future research. 

In April, The American Heart Association released a series of policy recommendations aimed at increasing healthy choices in early care and education settings. The brief also includes best practices on how to cultivate healthy behaviors.  

The American Journal of Public Health found that children who learn social-emotional skills early in life have a more positive early adulthood. The study looked at eight hundred children over a twenty year period. The data came from low socioeconomic neighborhoods in three cities and one rural area. The study also took many factors into account in order to assess the whole child. 

Eleanor Clift examines Social Impact Bonds (SIBS) as a way to fund early education in this installment of the Daily Beast. The article details behind SIBS and explores current projects funded by the bonds. Commentary from Mark Shriver adds to the debate about Social Impact Bonds. 

A new report from JAMA Pediatrics explores the relationship between child poverty, brain development, and academic achievement. This longitudinal cohort study looked at over 350 brain imaging scans of children and young adults aged four to twenty two. The research found that households experiencing poverty should be targeted for additional resources for young children. 

JAMA Pediatrics researched the effects of poverty on the developing brain. Using brain neuroimaging data and behavioral data, JAMA was able to study brain scans to discover differences in brain growth. The study found that children living in poverty had lower cognitive and academic performance. 

Child Care and Early Education Resource Connections found that positive experiences in kindergarten may lead to successful school engagement in later grades. The study looked at 164 children transitioning from Head Start to elementary school. It assessed the children's social behaviors, classroom engagement, and literary skills.  

A recent literature review covers the relationship between toxic stress and the development of self-regulation. Cross-sector research is used to inform definitions of stress and self-regulation. A summary of key findings, a list of current literature, and implications for practice are included. 

The Committee for Economic Development studied the various costs associated with child care. The report looks at who uses child care services and the cost across states. "Child Care in State Economies" reports on how the child care sector interacts with other sectors of the economy. The report also includes ways child care can spur regional economic growth. 

The Center for American Progress investigated using the Child Tax Credit as a way to address the challenges of child poverty. The report outlines the the limitations of the CTC and follows up with proposals to make the CTC work for families. How the CTC would close part of the poverty gap is explained.  

The Carsey School of Public Policy has released data on the use of school breakfast and school lunch programs in New Hampshire. The data shows that only 64% of eligible children participate in the free lunch program and only 52% participate in the free breakfast program. The report covers policy implications and expands upon the data they collected. 

A report out of the Foundation for Child Development compares rates of expulsion in state funded prekindergarten and kindergarten - twelfth grade. The data is analyzed by gender, race/ethnicity, and age. Data from the The National Prekindergarten Study and the Elementary and Secondary School Survey were used to inform the analysis. 

The Office of Civil Rights released their 2011-2012 early childhood education related data. Preschool access and discipline are two of the topics that this dataset covers. The data comes from public schools and preschools operated by public schools. Data is not collected from private schools. 

An Opinion Piece in the New York Times discusses racial representation in special education. The article expands upon recent research that suggests that there is a racial bias in special education. The piece introduces a new study that shows black children are "under-diagnosed across five disability conditions".

A new brief from the Center for the Developing Child at Harvard delves into the topic of early childhood mental health. The brief describes the most common mental health problems that occur across childhood. Policy implications are included in the brief. There is a short overview video that describes the brief. 

The Privacy Technical Assistance Center is a center for resources organized by the Department of Education. Their website makes available checklists, policies, and letter samples all regarding the use of data in the school setting. Their toolkit can be used by stakeholders, districts, and the postsecondary education community. It covers topics like data security, governance, and safety. PTAC includes a content glossary to help with all data definition questions. 

A short YouTube video explains how the Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ) and the Ages and Stages Social Emotional Questionnaire can be administered in a pediatric office. The video shows how to discuss and interpret screening results with families and how to make a referral to an early intervention agency. 

Minnesota has invested in the development in a cross-sector system of care. The system of care is aligning practices with Medicaid policies, so the services provided are reimbursable. The use of standardized screening tools is encouraged; training has been ongoing and there will be monthly supervision. ZERO TO THREE has compiled a full report on Minnesota's Mental Health System of Care, which includes the full details and outlines the implementation plan. 

This white paper outlines federal financing strategies for early childhood education. Strategies include reforming tax credits and incentivizing private dollars. The white paper is geared towards lawmakers. 

A White Paper from Save the Children Action Network outlines ways to strategically fund and expand access to early childhood programs. The white paper includes examples of funding on the state and local level. A multitude of ways to engage stakeholders and fund programs are included. 

Huffington Post has released the first blog post in a three part series covering the mental health needs of young children . The first blog post, written by Mathew Melmed from ZERO to THREE, discusses mental health in babies. The post offers parents tips on how to foster strong mental health, a case study of a 3 month old, and provides policy recommendations. 

The Child Mind Institute found that the disparity between children who struggle with mental health and those who struggle and actually receive care is staggering. Research shows that roughly 50% of children experience mental illness and about 8% receive treatment. The article discusses factors that lead to mental illness, the median age at which mental illness can become apparent, and ways to identify anxiety in children is also covered. 

A new brief from the University of York discusses the effect maternal language has on babies. The psychologists from the university found that when mothers commented on their babies' feelings, babies were more likely to understand the feelings of others as they grew older. The brief discusses the study, the findings, and provides further information on the research. 

Data Collection and Use in Early Education Programs 
The Early Childhood Education Research Alliance explores the increasing importance of data collection in early childhood. Their study looked at how programs are collecting and using data. Interviews with northeast programs informed the study. 
Toolkit: Building a Culture of Data Use
The Regional Educational Laboratory released a toolkit aimed at created a culture of data use. The toolkit is designed for use in districts and schools and provides users with a workshop guide. Materials for a facilitator and for participants are included.  
The Regional Educational Laboratory provided hands on workshops to teachers in the Manchester School District. Teachers received training on how to use data to improve instruction and to inform student learning objectives. School data, new initiative work, and reflections on the workshop are included in the article. 

Ascend at The Aspen Institute highlights the importance of a two generational approach when children are at early infancy and parents are transitioning into their new role. The study examines how to support parents and babies. Recommendations for practice and policy are included.