January 2017 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.
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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,
An important part of the work of Spark NH has been to try tell the story about how young children and families in the state are doing.  This has proved to be a challenging job.  While lots of data is being collected about early childhood in New Hampshire, it is not well integrated.  Programs and services for young children and families in the state collect data designed to meet the needs of their individual state or federal funder.  This makes it difficult for families, services providers and policy makers to access the information they need to make decisions and ensure coordinated services.  That's why the Spark NH Framework for Action sets a policy priority to "Establish an integrated, cross-agency statewide early childhood data system to improve program effectiveness and child and family outcomes."  Integrated early childhood data is essential to policymakers to make the best policy decisions and to parents to make the best choices for their children.   
The other result of the lack of data integration in early childhood is that we can show some data points, each of which may give us a partial picture of some children and families in our state, but it's hard to use the data we have to tell a well-developed story about the state's families.
That's what makes the Coos Coalition for Young Children and Families new data visualization tool so exciting.  Coos worked with communications consultant Lynn Davey to create an interactive data tool grounded in the science of child development.  That science tells us that while genes provide a basic blueprint, experiences influence how or whether genes are expressed.  How children develop is based on the environments in which they live and the experiences they have.  The Coos Coalition's tool shows children in Coos County in the context of the systems of health, education and family support that influence their development.  As the Coos site explains, "If we want to assess how well children are doing, and identify solutions to challenges in child well-being, we must look not only at personal characteristics, but at the physical, social, economic and cultural environments in which children live and grow." It's really different from the dashboards and other traditional data tools you may have used. 
I encourage you to check it out: 
The further exciting news is that through the generosity of the Endowment for Health and the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, Spark NH will be working with Lynn Davey to create a similar data visualization tool on the Spark NH website using statewide data.  We expect this to be available in the late spring.   
We still have a great deal of work to do to better integrate the data from the state's early childhood programs and services to better inform early childhood policy and practice, but Coos' work goes a long way to giving us a more complete picture of how young children and families in Coos County are faring. 

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 CCECC is working on a number of projects in collaboration with other community partners to provide for the optimal development of children and families living in Carroll County, ensuring all children enter kindergarten healthy and ready to learn and thrive. Most recently completed was the public engagement process with NH Listens. We will be working with community members on the following goals:
  • Increase awareness of the importance of the early childhood development to ensure that all children in MWV will thrive.
  • Increase the ability to access quality early childhood programming
  • MWV's young children and their families will have the benefit of well-coordinated early childhood programs and services through the development of a Family Resource Program through collaboration with existing programs and services, ensuring families have the skills, basic resources, and supports to promote their children's development and learning and starting before birth to 5 years of age. 
Additional projects include the implementation of VROOM in Carroll County as well as being part of SparkNH's Community of Practice's collaborative work to increase parental leadership and engagement regarding early childhood development and education. Information about the work of CCECC can now be found on-line under "Early Childhood and Early Parenting Support" on the newly updated Carroll County Coalition for Public Health website: http://www.c3ph.org/early-childhood-parenting-support .

Safe Schools/Healthy Students, Concord School District

The Concord School District Safe Schools/Healthy Students Grant Initiative continues its commitment to provide high quality professional development opportunities for Concord's early childhood community. During winter 2017, a series of workshops will be offered. Featured topics include; Diversity and Cultural Competence in Education, Social-Emotional Development: Providing Effective Behavior Support for Young Children and Developing Self-Regulation Skills in Young Children. Workshops are offered in the evenings to accommodate the provider's schedules. All workshops are free to participants.

In addition the workshop series, Howard Muscott is providing coaching and technical assistance to five Concord preschool and child care centers. Teams of at least two staff members meet with Howard monthly to delve into the implementation of Multi-Tiered Systems of Support in their centers.

Coos Coalition for Young Children and Families

The Coos Coalition is now working to connect our early childhood social and emotional development work more closely with the SAUs in Coos County. We have begun to have breakfast meetings with the Coos superintendents to identify shared strategies and goals that we can work on together. Our first meeting was held in December and focused on sharing more about the Coalition's work and what the SAUs are working on for social and emotional development. We then brainstormed a long list of possible shared activities which included things such as shared professional development opportunities, creating an on-going work-group that would meet quarterly, developing a common kindergarten assessment and bringing early childhood providers and elementary school teachers together on a regular basis. The upcoming January meeting will focus on refining that list and selecting a project to work on.

Impact Monadnock

Impact Monadnock (IM) recently completed its Data & Evaluation Plan to measure the progress of Year 1 of implementation from its community-led Strategic Plan. The major focus of implementation in 2016-2017 is the social and emotional wellbeing of children age 0-5 and their families. Target areas include developmental screening for social and emotional challenges; support for families through Vroom and Mind in the Making trainings, and behavioral health training for early childhood professionals. Measuring and evaluating progress is at the core of IM's work and will continue to be a mainstay of future implementation strategies.  

Project LAUNCH Manchester

Project LAUNCH in Manchester and Spark NH are pleased to support NH as it becomes a Pyramid Model State. Funding was given to the Pyramid Model Consortium to provide ongoing technical assistance to the Pyramid Model State Leadership Team, a group of 15 leaders from many sectors in the early childhood system, as it determines how best to bring the Pyramid Model approach to the state and establish a system of coaching, training, and support for professionals working with young children and their families. Funding also supported three trainings in the Pyramid Model and Strategies to Promote the Social-Emotional Competence of Young Children and Address Challenging Behavior in November and December with a total of 119 professionals trained.

Somersworth Early Childhood Coalition

The Somersworth Early Childhood Coalition wrapped up its work with NH Listens this month. We developed a draft for a three to five year timeline plotting exciting projects to launch the "Somersworth Ready Together" movement. Our work focuses on building relationships between school and community, family engagement and school readiness. Looking forward, we will engage more community members, stakeholders and volunteers to assist us in our efforts.

Team Up Rochester

Team Up Rochester is a group of community members working together to address our shared goals of "all children in Rochester arrive at Kindergarten ready to learn and succeed". As a result of our 10-month Community Engagement process, we are focused on two key areas for implementation that tie to Spark NH's goals: 1- Launch a comprehensive, community-wide, "Vroom!" Promotion and (Spark Goal: Positive Early Learning Experiences) 2-Strengthen the sustainability of Rochester's ability to provide quality early care and education (ECE) by creating a Rochester -centric network/coalition of providers and educators (Spark Goal: A Coordinated Early Childhood System).

Thrive Laconia

After the November 9th community event, Thrive Laconia submitted its Implementation Plan Report to NH Listens.The report includes initial goals and purpose, coalition members and roles, engagement strategies and activities, targeted engagement participants, strategies for inclusion, community context , and top 2-3 ideas for focus. Since transportation and community engagement were both identified as significant challenges to implementation, initial strategies for implementation include plans that consider both, with the acknowledgment that the issue of transportation would not be solved by Thrive Laconia. Over the next year Thrive Laconia will host a Bridges out of Poverty training for the community, create connections between existing community groups and those who do not have a natural support system, and host an event in February to celebrate accomplishments and share the implementation plan.

Greater Tilton Area Family Resource Center

The Greater Tilton Area Family Resource Center just completed its first session of Positive Solutions for Families. Attendees provided feedback, happy with the skills and practice at positive parenting techniques they were able to learn and complete during the 7 weeks we met. In addition, the relationships established has led to more contact and more connections to resources for these families. We are looking forward to a Financial Fitness program for our families next as we continue to see our role grow in the prevention principles of Early Childhood. We are implementing our drop-in playgroup next month for parents, caregivers and children infant to age 5, and are hoping to implement a home visiting program this Spring with the help of our community partners and funders, This project came from the efforts of our Early Childhood Coalition, hoping to reach families with young children and establishing a connection to the family resource center as well as connecting them to resources long before their children are screened for Kindergarten. We are excited as we are blessed to witness such positive impact and hear the feedback from the families as we are honored to be invited to share in their lives

Committee and Task Force Meeting Summaries   

Workforce and Professional Development Committee - September 23, 2016

The Committee reviewed progress to date on interviews with agencies and departments on the Workforce Data project. Interviewers are finding not many collect data on the workforce. In some cases, information is scattered, incomplete, or non-existent. We will continue to conduct the remaining interviews and send the results to Peter Antal for collation. The group resumed discussion on the Professional Development System Blueprint priorities. Specific activities were identified for Professional Standards and Career Pathways. An update was given on goals for a new Task Force on expanding the Watch Me Grow system for developmental screening, diagnosis, referral and services.

Executive Committee - October 11, 2016 

The committee reviewed the budget for 2107. The October Council meeting agenda was drafted. Council membership and officers were discussed. The Equity Training and the Strategic Planning Process were discussed. Brief updates on the Task Force on Early Identification of Developmental Issues and Vroom were given. The DOE Summer Summit was debriefed and the topic of oversight of non-public preschools was discussed. The Family Engagement Task Force brochure was reviewed. 

Quality Committee - October 18, 2016

The Quality Committee spent the October meeting time making additional edits to the EC Collaboration Toolkit. The Committee also made preparations for sharing information about the toolkit with the Council at the October meeting. The committee also established that the goals of 5D in the Strategic Plan which relate to the sharing of child and family needs have been met through the creation of the toolkit. Laura shared information regarding the train-the-trainer Pyramid Model trainings in November and December.

Workforce and Professional Development Committee - October 28, 2016

The final SEE Change Project report was given by Pat Cantor. One goal of the project was to build capacity for early childhood professionals working with young children with disabilities to foster child engagement in inclusive settings. Training and technical assistance was provided to implement a subset of the Division of Early Childhood (DEC) Recommended Practices that focus on enhancing child engagement. Recommendations were provided for those engaged in similar work. Tessa reported on the DOE's task of creating a state implementation plan for the ESSA that will include goals for Early Childhood. The committee also worked on creating action steps for the PDS Blueprint policy area of Articulation.

Policy Committee - November 7, 2016

After welcome and introductions, there was a review of the Oct 26 training on early childhood messaging by Dr. Lynn Davey, Spark NH's messaging consultant. The attendees found it valuable, and those not attending were urged to get the materials. Updates were given about the work of the new advocacy "Hub" housed at New Futures with support from Civix Strategy. A more in-depth update, including a discussion of how the Hub will help the Policy Committee track 2017 legislation related to the Framework, will be a key part of next month's meeting. There was rich sharing about planned advocacy and policy efforts related to the Framework. Updates were given on the regional early childhood efforts that participate in Spark NH's community of practice. The meeting evaluations were positive, and a suggestion is to have name cards back as the committee has grown.

Executive Committee - November 8, 2016

The committee spent some time debriefing the Strategic Planning Session. The 2107 budget was reviewed. The December Council Agenda was drafted. Council membership was reviewed. A letter of support for the NH Children's Trust was approved. Regulation of non-special education preschools in public schools was discussed. An update on the Task Force on Early Identification of Developmental Issues, the Pyramid Model work and Vroom took place. The New England Head Start Annual Conference was announced.

Upcoming Meetings 

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

Meeting Cancelled Communications and Public Awareness Committee
(1st Thursday of Every Other Month)
Friday, January 6th, 2:00-4:00
Place: Endowment for Health,
1 Pillsbury St Suite 30, Concord, NH, 03301 
Evaluation Committee
(1st Friday of Every Other Month)
Monday, January 9th, 9:00-10:30 Policy Committee 
1st Monday of Every Month)
No Meeting This Month Data Committee 
1st Monday of Every Month)
Tuesday, January 10th, 10:00-12:00 Executive Committee
(2nd Tuesday of Every Month)
Friday, January 27th, 9:00-11:00 Workforce and Professional Development Committee
(4th Friday of Every Month) 

Monday, February 6th, 9:00-10:30 Policy Committee
(1st Monday of Every Month)
No Meeting This Month Data Committee 
(1st Monday of Every 3rd Month)
Monday, February 13th, 9:00-10:30 Family Partnership and Engagement Task Force
(2nd Monday of Every Other Month
Tuesday, February 14th, 10:00-2:00 Executive Committee 
(2nd Tuesday of Every Month)
Tuesday, February 17th, 1:00-3:00 Quality Committee
(3rd Tuesday of Every Other Month) 
Thursday, February 26th, 9:00-11:00 Spark NH Council Meeting 
(4th Thursday of Every Other Month)
Friday, February 27th, 9:00-11:00 Workforce and Professional Development Committee
(4th Friday of Every Month) 

Links of Interest

In December Nobel laureate James Heckman, a professor of economics at the University of Chicago and the director of the Center for the Economics of Human Development was interviewed about the importance of early intervention.  Heckman expresses that although quality care at the preschool level is an expensive process the 13% return in long term savings is well worth the investment.  Further information can be found in The Life-Cycle Benefits of an Influential Early Childhood Program , co-authored by Heckman.
North Carolina is one of 42 states that follows a state funded Pre-K program and has been praised as a model for others around the country.New research from North Carolina has found that benefits of high quality early learning programs follow students up through fifth grade. The results include fewer students placed in special education, higher test scores, and a lower rate of students held back a grade level. Published in November the research can be found in the journal Child Development.  It is unclear at this time if the federal government will provide a single program therefore conversation about quality, size, and funding of Pre-K programs will continue to be important at the state and local level.
New Research from Yale University suggests that classroom level interventions, such as gentle redirection that allow children to feel safe, protected, and valued are making a big difference in Connecticut. Suspending a preschooler for their behavior is not an intervention but rather a temporary fix to the problem. The idea that if you intervene early in the lives of at risk children the outcome is a healthier, more productive adult is highlighted through research in Michigan and an at risk child simply can not benefit from the high quality programs that offer such interventions if they have been sent home.
Surgeon General Issued Landmark Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health A new Surgeon General's report finds that alcohol and drug misuse and severe substance use disorders, commonly called addiction, are among America's most pressing public health concerns. Nearly 21 million Americans-more than the number of people who have all cancers combined-suffer from substance use disorders. The report, Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General's Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health, marks the first time that a U.S. Surgeon General has dedicated a report to substance misuse and related disorders. The report addresses alcohol, illicit drugs, and prescription drug misuse, with chapters dedicated to neurobiology, prevention, treatment, recovery, health systems integration, and recommendations for the future. It provides an in depth look at the science of substance use disorders and addiction, calls for a cultural shift in the way that Americans talk about the issues, and recommends actions we can take to prevent and treat these conditions and to promote recovery.
A researched based guide is available here on the prevention of substance abuse and addiction in early childhood. It is highlighted that while substance abuse typically begins during the adolescent years, there are many factors that contribute to the risk as early as the prenatal period. The idea of early intervention to avoid substance abuse disorders and other behavioral problems are explored.
Healthy Steps as a moderator: The impact of maternal trauma on child social-emotional development.
Briggs, Rahil D.; Silver, Ellen J.; Krug, Laura M.; Mason, Zachary S.; Schrag, Rebecca D. A.; Chinitz, Susan; Racine, Andrew D. (2014). Clinical Practice in Pediatric Psychology, 2(2), 166-175.
Early identification of children at risk for suboptimal social-emotional development is increasingly at the forefront of pediatric practice design. Based on substantial evidence from the research community, there is agreement that young children are particularly susceptible to the effects of toxic stress, which can have a substantial and damaging impact on the architecture of the developing brain. Protective caregiver relationships represent an important buffer against these effects, and, thus, they are a promising focus of both prevention and intervention efforts.
At Healthy Steps at Montefiore, we used universal ACES screening of parents to identify infants at risk for poor social emotional development. Via integrated two-generation services, we showed an ability to intervene in that otherwise powerful intergenerational transmission of trauma and toxic stress. Infants born to mothers who experienced abuse and neglect in their own childhood, if they received Healthy Steps, were significantly more likely to demonstrate healthy social emotional development. The pediatric primary care office is the most optimal location for identifying children at risk, at the earliest possible time, and providing needed follow up.
New Report From the Early Learning Interagency Policy Board on the Integration of Data
The U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Education (ED) released a joint report that will help States refine their capacity to use existing data from early childhood (EC) programs to improve services for young children and families. The report covers key considerations when States integrate data and highlights progress in eight States that are actively developing and using EC integrated data systems (ECIDS). It also discusses technical assistance, includes resources available to States for ECIDS development, and reflects on lessons learned from additional States when approaching this work.
The largest ethnic group among children age five and under is Hispanic, including many families whose home language is not English. How to best meet the early learning needs of these Dual Language Learners-taking into account risk factors such as poverty and limited English proficiency, as well as benefits such as a rich culture-
is an important issue facing policymakers, preschool educators, and parents.