March 2016 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.
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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,

Spark NH at Governor Hassan's State of the State Address
On February 4, we were thrilled to have Governor Hassan highlight to the importance of early childhood in her State of the State Address. The work of Spark NH and our new Framework for Action (see below) were mentioned.  She said: 

"Spark New Hampshire has outlined a framework to ensure that our state's children have the opportunity that they deserve to live healthy lives, receive a high-quality education, and experience economic stability at home."

Governor Hassan went on to talk about building on the Framework, calling out some of the policies recommended in the document as part of her Gateway to Work intiative. You can view the speech here. The mention of Spark NH begins at 27 minutes. 

Shared Professional Early Childhood Core Competencies
The Spark NH Workforce and Professional Development Committee (WFPDC) has completed a final draft of Shared Professional Early Childhood Core Competencies (SPECCC). These competencies reflect a body of knowledge, skills, and practices that professionals should know and be able to demonstrate in their work with expectant parents as well as children from birth through grade three and their families.
This initiative began with the analysis of current standards and competencies across the sectors of health, family support, and early childhood learning. From this analysis common and shared competencies were identified across sectors. Language was refined to create competencies that would fit all constituencies.
Articulated comprehensive core competencies across the fields of early childhood learning, health and family support will result in reducing redundancies, inefficiencies, and gaps by creating a strong cross-sector network. 
The WFPDC's goal is to collaborate with partners to endorse these competencies as a foundation for early childhood work. They are not to replace current standards and competencies, rather to be accepted as the core of what we share.

Respectfully submitted,
Laura Milliken, Esq.
Director, Spark NH
 "Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much."
- Helen Keller
Regional Early Childhood Initiative Reports

Carroll County Early Childhood Coalition 
The Carroll County Early Childhood Coalition (CCECC) supported SAU9 in their successful application for the NH Listens Early Childhood Grant to design and facilitate a public engagement process to increase access to SAU9 supported quality educational programming for preschool age children. We look forward to engaging in these community conversations to help local communities understand the importance of early childhood education and strengthen the relationships with our local school districts as we strive to increase the number of children receiving developmental screenings in Carroll County. 

Safe Schools, Healthy Students, Concord 
The focus of Concord's Early Childhood initiative has been to more fully engage families in their young children's learning.  Over fifty families with children ages birth to five have attended one of the three Family Center programs. Families have been able to interact in positive, proactive ways with their young children as well as to access important community resources. Family events offered in the evenings throughout the year have been well-received and attended. For example, 55 families attended
Winter Story Night at Mill Brook School, an event offered through a collaboration with Safe Schools, 21st Century Learning Centers and Title One.

Coos Coalition for Young Children and Families
The Coos Coalition recently completed their annual report for 2015. Some of the highlights from that report are as follows: 293 women were screened for maternal depression at well child visits in 2015, 39 of those women were referred for further assessment and treatment; 284 unduplicated children were screened using the ASQ or ASQ-SE in 2015 and 312 of those screenings were with the ASQ and 176 were with the ASQ-SE; there are now 8 evidence based curricula in place in Coos County with over 100 staff trained in implementation, in 2009 there was only one curricula in place (Parents as Teachers); 77% of parents participating in an evidence based program improved their parenting skills.

Impact Monadnock
The Impact Monadnock Early Childhood Development (ECD) Initiative has entered its second year. The main focus of 2016 will be to complete a community-led strategic plan for the ECD Initiative and increase its community engagement efforts. In February, Impact Monadnock took a big step toward building public awareness by hosting a screening of the documentary Raising New Hampshire along with a panel discussion in Keene. About 180 people attended the event that featured state Senator Molly Kelly and panelists Cellissa Hoyt (Project Director, Seacoast Early Learning Alliance); Dr. Jose Montero (Vice President, Population Health, Cheshire Medical Center, Keene); Assistant Superintendent David Beauchamp (Jaffrey Rindge School District); Detective Bob Collinsworth (Keene Police Department); student Brittany LaFleur (education major, Keene State College); and Karen Dunnigan (parent and para-professional, Fall Mountain School District). Nearly 35 people signed up to support Impact Monadnock via Action Steps forms provided at the event. 

Lakes Region Early Childhood Workgroup
The Lakes Region Early Childhood Workgroup has three strategies: Ages and Stages screenings, Trauma Informed Early Childhood Services (TIECS) trainings, and efforts to encourage child care programs to become Licensed Plus.  These are also are being used by statewide early childhood efforts: Ages and Stages (Spark NH, Community of Practice), TIECS, Licensed Plus (Child Care Aware of NH, New Hampshire Charitable Foundation). With a rich history of coordinated work, the influence to convene community leaders, and the capacity to reach out and engage early childhood professionals, the Lakes workgroup is well-positioned to lead a child, adult, and community development effort.

Project LAUNCH Manchester
Project LAUNCH in Manchester has implemented parenting education from the Pyramid Model Consortium (formerly known as the Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning). We offer a 6-week class called Positive Solutions for Families. The Pyramid Model is used in classrooms for behavioral support coaching through Project LAUNCH, so parents and child care providers share similar language in supporting children's social and emotional well-being. In order to bring this strategy to scale, in September, a cross-sector group of 27 early childhood professionals were trained to facilitate Positive Solutions for Families by a the Consortium. The trainer returned to Manchester on March 3rd and 4th to offer a "train-the-trainer" module to the two Project LAUNCH facilitators.  Planning is underway to determine a schedule for training others interested in becoming Positive Solutions for Families facilitators.

Safe Schools Healthy Students, Rochester
We have begun to roll out the Ages & Stages Social and Emotional Screening Tool to all our incoming 2016 kindergarten students and their parents.  The Preschool Program along with the Safe Schools Healthy Students Grant, will be sponsoring a Parent Connections Group that will focus on the partnership between home and school to support a strong and healthy start to school for all Rochester early learners.  Some of the topics will include transition from preschool to kindergarten/expectations, Behavioral Health, Nutrition for Healthy Development, Autism, Trauma Informed and the Early Brain Development, and Sensory Integration.
The Rochester School District has partnered with the Seacoast United Way, New Hampshire Listens, local business sector, and community agencies to help support the importance of high quality Early Childhood Education for all early learners. 

Committee and Task Force Meeting Summaries   

Workforce and Professional Development Committee Meeting - December 18
In December the committee continued to explore its work in developing the Cross-Sector Early Childhood Professional Development System.  It heard a presentation from Kristen Booth, Child Development Bureau Administrator on The Quality Rating Improvement System (QRIS) project for Early Childhood Centers in NH.  Claudette Mallory presented on Early Childhood Credentialing and the NH Professional Registry.  The committee also reviewed detailed feedback on the Shared Professional Early Childhood Core Competencies (SPECCC).   A small group will be reviewing and making adjustments to the document based on the committee's feedback. 

Workforce and Professional Development Committee Meeting - January 22
At this month's meeting the final changes to SPECCC (Shared Professional Early Childhood Cross Sector Competencies) were shared and approved by the committee.  The document will now be shared with Spark Council at the next meeting. Tessa will be presenting the family component of SPECCC at next month's NEA NH meeting per their request.  One focus of group is to improve family engagement.  The committee reviewed priorities of the last two areas of the Cross Sector Early Childhood Professional Development System.  The committee will now begin to formulate work plans to address the chosen priorities.  The committee also began a discussion about poverty and decided to further explore the committee's role in addressing competencies in this area.  The committee also began to discuss the opium epidemic, its impact on children and the role of the WFPD committee in addressing the issue.

Policy Committee Meeting  - January 4
Melissa Bernardin presented the legislative tracking work being done by Investing Communities Initiative. ICI is independently completing the legislative tracking, as Spark NH cannot lobby. Melissa shared the bills that the group is currently tracking and asked for feedback regarding the addition or removal of certain bills. Lara, Marj, and Marti provided regional partnership updates. Kristin Booth provided an Overview of the Child Care Development Fund (CCDF) plan and the meeting transitioned into the CCDF Public Hearing.

Communications and Public Awareness Committee Meeting - January 7
The committee started with "heard on the street" and an update from the 2-1-1 task force.  There was an update on where the Raising of America and Raising NH films have been shown.  The majority of the meeting was spent going through the Race Matters back map.  The committee work plan will be reviewed and updated at the next meeting. 
Family Partnership and Engagement Taskforce - January 11
The taskforce met in January to discuss the future of the group. We worked on a 2016 work plan that included creating opportunities to engage families.  Our hope is to design strategies to better support parents who would like to become involved in Spark NH.  We are moving forward with our brochure and hope to have it ready for feedback by late spring. We are also going to gather testimonials from parents who are involved or have been involved with Spark NH to reinforce the importance of the parent voice.

Executive Committee Meeting - January 12
The latest meeting summary was approved and last Council meeting debriefed. March's Council meeting agenda was drafted. Spark's MOU with Early Learning NH was finalized. A brief budget update was given, a bylaws change was proposed, and a letter of support was discussed. Peter's request to share the evaluation report was discussed. Laura's annual evaluation was reviewed. Updates on Vroom and the Family Engagement Taskforce were given. A new Watch Me Grow taskforce, whose role will be to address the system's current limitations and develop a plan for expanding it beyond screening, referral and parent education to include evaluation, diagnosis and services based on a blueprint for change, will be formally connected to Spark NH.

Quality Committee Meeting - February 16 The Quality Committee did not meet in January. Peter Antal visited our February meeting to seek input on our ideas for data needs. We reviewed the dissemination of the quality cards over the past few months. Almost all of the Family cards have been distributed, but many Provider cards remain. The PowerPoint slides corresponding to the Quality Definition cards will be piloted by Committee over the next couple of months. The committee continues to consider the next steps of our work. The Quality Committee will not meet in March, but will meet again on April 21, 2016 from 1-3 at 2 Delta Dental. 
Upcoming Meetings 

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

Thursday, March 3rd, 10:00-11:30Communications and Public Awareness Committee
(1st Thursday of Every Other Month)
Friday, March 4th, 2:00-4:00pmEvaluation Committee
(Usually 1st Friday of Every Other Odd Month)
Monday, March 7th, 9:00-10:30amPolicy Committee 
(1st Monday of Every Month)
Monday, March 7th, 2:00-4:00pmData Committee
(1st Monday of Every Month) 
Tuesday, 12:00-2:00pmExecutive Committee
(2ndTuesday of Every Month)
Friday, March 25th, 9:00-11:00amWorkforce and Professional Development Committee
(4th Friday of Every Month) 

Monday, April 4th, 9:30-10:00  Policy Committee
(1st Monday of Every Month)
Monday, April 4th, 2:00-4:00
Data Committee 
(1st Monday of Every Month)
Monday, April 11th, 1:00-2:30Family Partnership and Engagement Taskforce
(2nd Monday of Every Other Month) 
Tuesday, April 12th, 12:00-2:00pmExecutive Committee 
Tuesday, April 19th, 1:00-3:00pmQuality Committee
(3rd Tuesday of Every Other Month 
Friday, April 22nd, 9:00-11:00amWorkforce and Professional Development Committee
(4th Friday of Every Month) 
Thursday, April 28th, 9:00-11:00amSpark NH Council Meeting 
(4th Thursday 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!  

"Domestic Violence and Its Impact on Young Children": The New Hampshire Assoc. for Infant and Mental health will be hosting a workshop on Tuesday, March 22 from 9-11am at the Manchester Health Department. Workshop description: Children who witness violence and/or depend upon parents who have been victimized or are perpetrators of abuse may face difficulties. Exposure to such experiences may have a tremendous impact on the child's developing brain. Fortunately, strong, healthy attachments will assist children in developing resilient, well-functioning brains. This workshop will be presented by Linda Douglas, M.Ed., Trauma Informed Services Specialist, NH Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. For more information and to register, click here.  

"Part Natural, Part Learned": Join NH Children's Trust on Monday, April 4th for the Strengthening Families Summit 2016. The summit will be held at the Grappone Conference Center in Concord. Catherine Sanderson, Ph.D is the keynote speaker. For more information and to register, click here
Links of Interest 

Early Childhood State Policies: Updated
The National Center for Children in Poverty updated their Early Childhood State Policy Profiles. The profiles provide insight to the areas of early care and education, health, and parenting/family economic supports both nationally and state by state. 

Child Maltreatment 2014 
The Children's Bureau published national data regarding child abuse and neglect known by child protective services during the 2014 federal fiscal year. The report found that the youngest children continue to be the most vulnerable and that the victimization rate is slightly higher for girls than for boys. The six chapter report provides data on reports, children, fatalities, perpetrators, and services. 

Lead Poisoning and Children
The American Academy of Pediatrics released a series of articles regarding lead poisoning in children. The collection includes information for parents, advocacy resources, and information regarding the effects of lead poisoning in children.

Uncorrected Farsightedness Linked to Literacy Deficits in Preschoolers
The National Eye Institute released findings from a recent study that show that uncorrected farsightedness in preschool children is related to significant early literacy deficits. The findings show that young children with moderate worse on the Test of Preschool Early Literacy (TOPEL) than those children with normal vision. This study highlights the importance of early screening and detection. 

State Pre-K Funding for 2015-16 Fiscal Year
The Education Commission of the States released a report analyzing investment in pre-k programs. The results show that, for the fourth straight year, investment in pre-k programs increased. Thirty two states show an overall 12% increase in the 2015-16 fiscal year over the previous year. The report also includes state examples and an overview of state pre-k programs. 

Video Parent Feedback Program Improves School Readiness of Children in Poverty
The Video Interaction Project (VIP) is a program that video tapes parents reading to and playing with their young child during check ups at their pediatrician's office. A child development specialist then reviews the tape with the parent and gives positive feedback to the parent. After the session, the parent is given a book or toy for the child along with the video tape. The study included 675 parents and their newborn child. The group was comprised of only mothers over the age of 18. The mothers were randomly assigned to one of three groups, the VIP group, the Building Blocks group, and the control group. The study found that the children in the VIP group had reduced hyperactivity and aggression as well as better attention and and play skills at age three. The building blocks group also experienced better play skills at age 3. 

Critical Competencies for Infant-Toddler Educators
A new resource from ZERO TO THREE lists essential skills educators need in order to foster the social-emotional, cognitive, and language development of infant and toddlers. The critical competencies are broken down into three sub-areas. The related book, brief, and brochure provide important background information regarding these essential skills. 

Strengthening Policy that Promotes Effective Early Childhood Teaching 
The BUILD Initiative and the Center for Enhancing Early Learning Outcome published a paper that acts as a guide to policymakers on how to strengthen policy that promotes effective early childhood teaching. A discussion guide accompanies the paper and focuses on the importance of teaching conditions. 

Panel Calls for Depression Screening During and After Pregnancy 
Recent data shows that maternal depression is much more common than previously thought. A task force, comprised of experts selected by DHHS, calls for depression screenings during and after pregnancy. This recommendation comes from the updated depression screening guidelines. When the task force gave this recommendation, they gave it a B rating, which means the screening must be covered under the Affordable Care Act. 

The Brookings Institute, along with the American Enterprise Institute, created a plan to address poverty. This plan looks at alleviating poverty by focusing on family, work, and education issues. The report looks at trends that are emerging with gaps in educational achievement, stagnant wages, and high incarceration rates.  

Poverty and Inequality Report 2015
The Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality reported that the United States ranks last among developed countries on poverty and economic mobility issues. Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity released their 2015 report, which compares the United States to nine other nations on six indicators, including income and wealth inequality. 

Black History Month 2016: It's Time to Treat Racism As A Target for Intervention
The latest post from Child Trends examines race-based discrimination. The report shows that race-based discrimination affects black children in their education, as young black girls are more likely to be suspended than their white peers and black children are much more likely to experience violence. Child Trends examines these disparities and recommends practices and interventions that could reduce them. 

Why Child Care Packs Quite the Economic Punch
A recent report from the Administration for Children and Families examines the economic benefits of child care. Previous research shows that childcare provides the opportunity for parents to work and nurtures child development. New research shows that childcare has the opportunity to boost local economies. The Committee for Economic Development (CED) found that every federal dollar invested in childcare, there is a return of $3.80 for local economies. The CED report examines the multiple positive impacts that childcare has on the workforce, families, and communities. 

U.S. Department of Education Takes Action to Deliver Equity for Students with Disabilities
A new rule to improve the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was proposed by the Department of Education. The DOE proposed this rule change to address the disparities in the treatment of children of color with disabilities. The unofficial copy of the proposed rule change can be accessed here

Science Achievement Gaps Begin Very Early, Persist, and Are Largely Explained by Modifiable Factors
The American Educational Research Association (AERA) investigated gaps in science achievement. AERA that gaps in general knowledge between racial/ethnic minorities and white children, as well as low and high income, exist at kindergarten entry. These gaps continued to widen as children moved through the grade levels. Data from over 7,750 children was analyzed. The data shows that most of the children who entered kindergarten with low general knowledge were struggling in science in third grade and eighth grade. The findings highlight the importance of high quality early childhood education, especially for those children at risk

Engaging Parents in Productive Partnerships
The National Center on Dispute Resolution in Special Education released a brochure with tips on how educators, service providers, and parents can best work together to benefit students with special needs. The brochure provides specific recommendation, including a checklist of items to cover in order to have a successful IEP meeting.