Welcome to Spark NH!
Dear Friend of Spark NH

A healthy and prosperous future for New Hampshire is important to all of us. And what we know now is that providing our next generation with positive early learning experiences, good health, and strong family support is vital to our future social and economic well-being - as today's children are tomorrow's parents, workers, and citizens.

Since our start 6 years ago, Spark NH has been working to tell the story of how young children in their families are faring in NH but this has been somewhat challenging. Programs and services for young children and families in the state all collect data, but these data are not coordinated.

This makes it difficult for families, services providers, and policy makers to access information they need to make decisions and ensure coordinated services. That's why our Spark NH Framework for Action includes a policy priority to "Establish an integrated, cross-agency statewide early childhood data system to improve program effectiveness and child and family outcomes."

If we want to assess how well children are doing, and identify solutions to challenges in child well-being, we need a better understanding of the physical, social, economic and cultural environments in which children live and grow. Our new online data exploration tool will allow us to do just that.

With the guidance of the Spark NH Data Committee, our wonderful communications consultant, Lynn Davey and her web designer, Holly Valero, created the tool to look at early childhood data using the science of child development. What we know from science is that how children develop is based on the environments in which they live and the experiences they have.

The tool is not an online data warehouse, but an interactive platform built with a cutting edge data visualization product called Tableau. Tableau not only allows us to tell the story of child well-being in New Hampshire in a visually interesting way, but also provides users with interactive tools that allow them to explore the data more fully. The charts and graphs can be sorted, downloaded as images or PDF files, and shared via e-mail or on the web with a single click. The raw data can also be downloaded directly either as a text file or as a Tableau workbook for others who also use Tableau.

We see the tool as providing a one-stop shop to practitioners, policymakers and all those interested in a better understanding of the contexts that promote the healthy development of New Hampshire's next generation. Please explore and share widely!

Respectfully submitted,
Laura Milliken, Esq.
Director, Spark NH
Community of Practice: Fall Updates

Carroll County Early Childhood Coalition

The Carroll County Early Childhood Coalition (CCECC) continues to build the awareness of the importance of the early childhood years in laying a strong foundation for lifelong health outcomes and future success of our children and families in our communities. Over the summer months SparkNH's Bedrock Presentation has been presented to 4 different community groups including local healthcare providers, community mental health center staff and members of a local faith community. This fall presentations are scheduled to Rotary, Kiwanis and Lions Clubs, as well as local school board members. CCECC has also hosted 2 Trauma-informed Care Presentations by Linda Douglas of the NH Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence. These events are sustaining the momentum of the public engagement efforts that started last year with the support of NH Listens, and are an integral part of local efforts to ensure all families in the SAU9 School district have access to  publicly supported early childhood programming. 

Claremont Learning Partnership

No fall update.

Concord School District Safe Schools/Healthy Students

As the Concord School District Safe Schools/Healthy Students Grant Initiative enters its final year of implementation, the project continues its dedication to offering high quality early childhood and family engagement activities.  There will be a focus on offering and working to sustain its most successful initiatives which include; offering weekly Family Center programs at four neighborhood sites; providing ongoing professional development and technical assistance to the Early Childhood Community; strengthening efforts to offer social-emotional screening to children ages birth to six; offering parent and caregiver groups; and removing barriers to access important resources for young children experiencing behavioral and emotional challenges.  

Coos Coalition for Young Children and Families

The Coos Coalition has just completed a January-June 2017 report for Coalition activities. The report shows that in the last 6 months:
  • 497 caregivers of children 0-6 in Coos County were screened for depression by six different organizations.
  • 292 ASQ developmental screenings were completed on children 0-6 by 8 different organizations
  • 89 families were provided home visiting services by three different organizations.
  • 20% of these families were single care takers.
  • 26% children in the families served had been affected by substance abuse (Including 4 NAS babies)
  • 1,020 books were provided to children 0-6 at well child visits through the Reach out and Read Program.
In addition, the Coalition sponsored a peer training for home visitors using the growing Great Kids curriculum. The training was focused on how to approach the issue of substance abuse in family visits. 32 staff from Coos and the Lakes Region attended the training.

Greater Nashua Smart Start Coalition

Greater Nashua Smart Start group has a little hiatus in August and have not met as a group.  We haven't stopped working toward our goals though...We continued on our quest to engage parents in the Daily Vroom.  Our intern Erin Wallace created a mini PowerPoint presentation for lunch and learns with the medical practices...We spent the summer promoting Vroom at various community events like the Latino Festival, the Ash Street Bock Party and the Brazil-fest.  We were also able to tie-in a back-to-school jeans promotion that United Way was coordinating with the Pre-K and K Back to School Fair in Hudson.  Families that signed up for Vroom were able to select a brand new pair of jeans for their child...which has a decent response...about 15 families that registered for the app on site and probably another 24 that too home a card to try at home (no wifi)  We are hoping more partners will volunteer to host lunch and learns with the family practices to promote the app and distribute the Vroom material.

Childcare Aware and the NH Center for Women in Business and Enterprise will be partnering have agreed to collaborate on a night out for providers.  We'd like to add SELA (State Early Learning Alliance) to that group with a theme around strengthening small businesses.  We are also working on a collaboration between Southern NH Healthcare, United Way and the Public Library to bring the Baby Box University program to greater Nashua.  We are just in the initial planning stages but people are excited...and this was a favorite project on our goal plan so it will be great to get people together in October and share the news that this is moving forward!

Greater Tilton Area Family Resource Center

No fall update.
Impact Monadnock

In July, Impact Monadnock (IM) officially merged with Monadnock United Way (MUW).  The merger comes at a time when MUW and IM are focusing efforts in addressing similar needs in the region.  MUW has served as a "backbone" organization since IM's inception, providing staffing support, in-kind office space and oversight. Spark NH, IM's other backbone organization, has provided state-level insight and support in early childhood development and will continue to do so. The merger with MUW will bring IM new opportunities for growth, increased fundraising capacity and greater visibility across the region, with no anticipated changes to IM's identity or work plan.

IM has hired Jill Morgan as its new Program Director, who will start on September 27. Jill brings 8 years of community impact leadership at United Way of Tucson & Southern Arizona, as well as expertise in early childhood education, K-12 education, and youth development. IM is excited to introduce Jill to the Monadnock region and to NH's advocates for young children and families.

IM's Project Teams met in August to discuss strategies and activities for Year 2 of Strategic Plan implementation. The year ahead will include strong focus on increased use of ASQ-SE developmental screenings by pediatricians and early care providers, continued community education on the importance of early childhood development and its role in prevention, and increased adoption of family-friendly policies at Monadnock region businesses.

Project LAUNCH Manchester

In an effort to build in-state capacity to implement the Pyramid Model, Project LAUNCH is offering several intensive trainings for the three focus populations of the model - early childhood teachers, home visitors, and family support professionals. Please contact Lara Quiroga for more information.
  • Train-the-Trainer of Positive Solutions for Families Facilitators. Only facilitators previously trained through Project LAUNCH and/or the Pyramid Model Consortium are eligible. Training will be held September 28-29. Trainers will receive technical assistance via conference calls every other month for one year through the Pyramid Model Consortium.
  • Positive Solutions for Families Facilitator Training.  Applications were due September 8th, but space may still be available. Training will be held October 24-25. We hope to train another 25 parent education facilitators from throughout the state. Facilitators will receive technical assistance via conference calls every other month for one year through the Consortium.
  • PIWI (Parents Interacting With Infants) Training. Home visitors, parent/child group leaders, and other providers working with parents and young children in home-based settings and their supervisors are the target audience. We plan to train 25-30 people from throughout the state on October 18-19. Register at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/piwi-parents-interacting-with-infants-training-tickets-36905978776. Note: This training is full, but please register so that we can notify you if a space opens. We are securing funds for additional training dates.
  • Pyramid Model PIWI 2.0.  Supervisors in home visiting programs will be trained how to support their staff using PIWI. Supervisors will attend 2 days of training and then receive technical assistance via conference calls every month for one year through the Consortium. This training will be held November 2-3. Supervisors should register for the PIWI training above and then register for PIWI 2.0 at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/piwi-20-supervisor-training-tickets-36906483285. Note: This training is full, but please register so that we can notify you if a space opens. We are securing funds for additional training dates.

Somersworth Early Childhood Coalition

Somersworth Ready Together is focused on making a difference for children and families in Somersworth by improving early childhood development, ensuring language development and supporting family engagement to promote school readiness to succeed.  August was an exciting month for Somersworth Ready Together! Thanks to our partnership with the United Way of the Greater Seacoast and funding from the NH Charitable Foundation, we were able to hire Liz Belsito as our part-time Coordinator.  These funds also supported stipends for kindergarten teachers to host visits with families of incoming children. Teachers reported that the visits provided a unique opportunity to establish a positive relationship with families that will continue through the school year. One teacher reported that as a result of the visits her Open House was remarkably different. Having already experienced the family visits, parents were visibly more comfortable, talking to one another, smiling and excited about the year ahead. 

Coalition members continue to distribute Vroom materials throughout our Community and to build awareness and support for the Coalition's work.  One of our members, a local parent leader, was able to get city approval to host story time in the local park, which is a popular park frequented by families with young children.  She was also able to secure a donation of children's books from Scholastic.

Team Up Rochester

The Vroom promotion in Rochester has continued since its kick off in April. Charlene Shields, at Granite YMCA, is leading the effort. Vroom tip cards, posters and post cards have been distributed to many community agencies. Feedback from the providers and the parents has been very positive. New connections include the Wentworth Douglass Childcare Center (located in Dover but serving families throughout the region) and some additional private child care center providers. A final celebration was held on June 29th where discussion took place about continued dissemination of materials throughout the fall.

Thrive Laconia

Thrive Laconia activities include updates to the Framework for Action and Community of Practice Regional Initiative Crosswalk, Mind in the Making training series, and the creation of a Family Friendly Practices brochure with input from the Thrive Parent Leadership and Thrive Business Ambassadors groups (attached above). In addition, Thrive Laconia sponsored the presentation of all modules of Mind in the Making between the first week in July and the first week in August 2017. There were 15 participants - family support, school guidance, kindergarten and special education teachers, and home visitors.

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In the News!

-Laura Milliken and Chief Nick Willard Concord Monitor 

Upcoming Events

Policy Committee Meeting -  9/11 - 9:00 AM -10:15 AM at 2 Delta Drive
Executive Committee -  9/12 - 10:30 AM -12:30 PM at 2 Delta Drive
Data Committee - 9/18 - 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM at 2 Delta Drive
Workforce and Professional Development - 9/22 - 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM at 2 Delta Drive

Policy Committee Meeting - 10/2 - 9:00 AM - 10:15 AM 2 Pillsbury Ave.
Executive Committee -  10/10 - 12:00 PM-2:00 PM at 2 Delta Drive
Spark NH Council Meeting - 10/26 - 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM at 2 Delta Drive
Workforce and Professional Development - 10/27 - 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM at 2 Pillsbury Ave.

Evaluation Committee Meeting - 11/3 - 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM 1 Pillsbury Ave.
Policy Committee Meeting - 11/6 - 9:00 AM - 10:15 AM 2 Pillsbury Ave.
Executive Committee - 11/14 - 12:00 PM - 2:00 PM Location TBD
Workforce and Professional Development - Meeting Date TBD due to Holiday

Links of Interest

Source: Zero to Three
"This series of ZERO TO THREE briefing papers on infant and early childhood mental health policy are designed to generate awareness, interest, and action among federal and state policymakers, behavioral health administrators, and advocates."

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics
"A recent policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics published in Pediatrics, August 2017, Vol. 140 (2) explains why quality early education matters and the barriers that challenge quality childcare. The author also provides recommendations for pediatricians, as well as community, state and national stakeholders for improving early childcare."

Developing School Readiness Skills From 0-12 Months
Source: Zero to Three
"Learn how children develop early learning skills from birth to 12 months. These skills include: Language and Literacy, Thinking Skills, Self-Control, and Self Confidence."

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
"By promoting collaboration and data-driven intervention activities, public health can play a critical role in both the identification of at-risk children and the integration of systems that can support healthy development. These efforts can address disparities by reducing barriers that might prevent children from reaching their full potential."

Child Care Scarcity Has Very Real Consequences For Working Families
Source: NPR
"When NPR, along with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, 
surveyed  more than 1,000 parents nationwide about their child care experiences, a third  reported difficulty finding care."

Source: The Ounce
"This guide first explains the importance of state early childhood data systems and why they matter to state policy improvement."

Spark NH Materials

To find the latest research and important documents such as meeting minutes, agendas and presentations please visit our website at 
About Spark NH:

Spark NH is the Governor-appointed Early Childhood Advisory Council for the State of New Hampshire. Our mission is t o provide leadership that promotes a comprehensive, coordinated, sustainable early childhood system that achieves positive outcomes for young children and families, investing in a solid future for the Granite State.
Contact Us:

Call us at 603-226-7900 or email us at
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