July 2016 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,

   Ensuring children's healthy social and emotional development has emerged as a key concern in early childhood settings. Using evidence-based practices that coach teachers to identify social-emotional concerns and work effectively with children and parents is an especially promising approach.  This is exactly what is happening in two agencies in Manchester (Southern New Hampshire Services Head Start and Easter Seals Child Development & Family Resource Center) that are being supported by Manchester Project LAUNCH. At these two agencies, teachers are receiving training and behavioral support coaching using an evidence-based practice known as the Pyramid Model, focused on children at risk for or displaying social-emotional concerns. 

Through the coaching, the teachers have increased their abilities to address challenging behaviors in the classroom and have learned to communicate and work effectively with parents to build parents' understanding of their child's development and behavior.

The results have been dramatic.  As you can see in the graph below, teaching classroom staff about the social-emotional developmental needs of children and how to support that development in a classroom setting improves teacher effectiveness and reduces behavioral issues displayed by the children.  
To evaluate teachers' progress, coaches used the Pyramid Model TPOT (Teaching Pyramid Observation Tool) to establish a) a baseline measure of teacher practice, b) how well teachers implement the three-tiered model practices that support children's social competence and prevent challenging behaviors as well as reduce the number of red flag practices (concerning or undesired teacher practices).  The coaching positively affected all measures.
To evaluate children's progress, Project LAUNCH NH tracked scores on the Ages and Stages Questionnaire: Social-Emotional (ASQ:SE) for children who were identified as having behavioral or social-emotional concerns. In the last two years, 70% of those children saw improvements in their ASQ:SE scores. In addition, 85% of those children with concerning ASQ:SE scores and behaviors received referrals for behavioral health services. Of those referred for such services, more than half began receiving behavioral health services. 
Just imagine if every school implemented this kind of intervention!  The Project LAUNCH grant has two more years to implement this approach so there will be more data to report.  I'm hoping that the approach will be sustained and that many others will want to use this strategy.  If you are interested in learning more about this promising practice please email Lara Quiroga, the Manchester Project LAUNCH Local Program Director at lquiroga@mchc-nh.org .

Project LAUNCH is a federal grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).  LAUNCH stands for Linking Actions for Unmet Needs for Children's Health.  At the state level, Project LAUNCH supports the work of Spark NH, the "Young Child Wellness Council" (as well as early childhood advisory council) for the state.  At the local level, Project LAUNCH works collaboratively with local child and family-serving agencies to improve the local systems that promote the wellness of children and families and supports direct service work in Manchester to ensure that young children who are living in families with low incomes get the support they need to thrive.

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

C arroll County Early Childhood Coalition
Members of the Carroll County Early Childhood Coalition (CCECC) are in the midst of working with SAU9 to design and facilitate a public engagement process with the guidance of NH Listens to increase access to quality early childhood educational programming for preschool age children.  This summer there is an outreach program to individuals and groups in the communities served by SAU9 to hear thoughts about this topic and to inform this community engagement process. Information will be shared on the importance of early childhood education and support services as well as listening to the wants and needs that will be highlighted and discussed "Raising NH" community gatherings in September, culminating in a "Raising Mt. Washington Valley" community gathering in October. 

Coos Coalition for Young Children and Families
The Coos Coalition held a successful Business After Hours event with the Androscoggin Valley Chamber of Commerce in May. The Coalition is hoping to work with the Chamber going forward to help promote the importance of early childhood development through encouraging VROOM through businesses in the community. Vroom is based on the early childhood research that demonstrates there is no time in life when the brain develops more rapidly than during the first five years. So by building children's brains from the earliest ages, parents and caregivers can actually shape the foundation for future learning. VROOM has developed a free downloadable app that sends short easy brain building activities to a participating parents phone every day. Our goal is to engage as many parents as possible in learning how to create fun leaning moments for their child.

Impact Monadnock
Following the launch of its community-developed Strategic Plan, a new website, and a community video at www.impactmonadnock.org , Impact Monadnock is currently building community teams to implement the goals and objectives of the plan which focus on 3 areas: behavioral health, early childhood supports, and family supports for children age 0-5 and their families. Impact Monadnock is also co-hosting an Early Childhood Summit and the Mind in the Making Institute in late June and NH Listens Community Conversations about Early Childhood in partnership with 3 school districts and River Valley Community College this fall.  

Laconia Early Childhood Workgroup
Due to low sign-up numbers for Raising NH, the Laconia EC Workgroup canceled the June 21 showing and used the time to have a meeting of the group, and those who said they would come to this meeting instead, to talk about the best way to promote the screenings and expand the core leadership group, something that now seems even more obviously necessary in order to expand networks and add capacity to the workgroup.  Facilitated by Bruce Mallory, the group decided that it makes sense to step back, take a deep breath, come together with others, to be sure that the first public event of the Initiative is as successful as possible.

Project LAUNCH Manchester
Project LAUNCH in Manchester implements parenting education from the Pyramid Model Consortium (formerly known as the Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning ) , offering a 6-week class called Positive Solutions for Families . The Pyramid Model is used in classrooms utilizing behavioral support coaching through Project LAUNCH, so parents and child care providers already share similar language in supporting children's social and emotional wellbeing in those settings. In the last 6 months, more sessions have been offered and more parents have completed sessions than in the first 2 years of the project! Contact Lara Quiroga, Project LAUNCH Local Program Director, at lquiroga@mchc-nh.org for more information and an application to participate in training to become a Positive Solutions for Families Facilitator for your community! 

Safe Schools, Healthy Students, Concord 
Concord School District's Safe Schools/Healthy Students Grant Initiative presented a series of high quality workshops and trainings to the Concord community's early childhood preschool and child care providers.  Throughout the year, trainings were offered on topics such as  Strategies for Avoiding Power Struggles, Creating Effective Behavior Support Plans and Working Effectively with our Young English Language Learners.  The training season concluded with two workshops, offered by Riverbend clinicians focused on  Mindfulness in the Early Childhood Setting  and  Early Childhood Trauma Training.   This summer, ten Concord Early Childhood Providers will receive scholarships to attend the 2016 Conference on School Culture, Climate and Behavior Support.  One hundred twenty-five providers participated in the trainings offered this year. 

Safe Schools, Healthy Students,   Rochester

The Rochester School District sponsored their first Kindergarten Family Information Night on Wednesday May 25th, at the Frisbie Educational Conference center from 6:00 to 7:30.  The event was also sponsored with support from Spark NH and Watch Me Grow (WMG). The night was a huge success with over 60 families and children attending.  Parents were provided with resources, tips to help support their child's brain development, along with kindergarten expectations and curriculum.  Parents were able to meet elementary principals, kindergarten and special education teachers, reading specialist, and related services providers.  Parents had the opportunity to have informal discussions regarding screening tools (DIBELS/PELI) used at the kindergarten level.  Each family left this event with resources, information and each pre-K student with a kindergarten book to read with their parents.

Committee and Task Force Meeting Summaries   

Executive Committee Meeting - April 12
An update on the equity work was given. Two Equity Leader Fellows will be placed with Spark NH and join the Policy and Communications and Public Awareness Committees. The April Council agenda was finalized. Potential changes to the budget were discussed as were the new grants submitted to the Endowment for Health. A meeting with Commissioner Meyers has been scheduled. A brief update on Vroom was given. The Community of Practice members will be a part of the Vroom rollout. The Early Childhood Leadership Team for the DOE Summer Summit was brainstormed. 

Executive Committee Meeting - May 3
The last council meeting was debriefed. The agenda for the June Council meeting was drafted. The Equity work will continue through the strategic planning process. The Equity Leader Fellows have attended committee meetings. An updated budget will be shared at the next Council meeting. There are some changes to Council membership that will be addressed. A report on the meeting with Commissioner Meyers took place. An update on Vroom was given. Debra gave an update on the sessions for the summer summit: theme, focus areas and presenter list were shared. 

Communications and Public Awareness Committee Meeting- May 5
There was an update from the 2-1-1 Task Force on some of the efforts to keep the database updated. The group discussed a new initiative of employers who want to connect their employees to information about services; employee toolkit and informational lunch and learns were discussed. Revisions to the Spark website will take place. Using the newsletter, website and social media to expand communication was discussed. A gubernatorial forum on early childhood will be hosted by Spark NH this summer. Bedrock presentations were discussed. The Bedrock will be made into a user-friendly webinar. 

Data Committee Meeting - May 2
Lynn Davey joined the Data Committee meeting to give a review of the work she is doing regarding data displays for Spark NH through a grant that was funded in April. Her approach is data driven for telling the stories with a focus on positive factors. The committee reviewed a sample of what the web system would look like and engaged in a conversation about what the system would include and how it would function. Additionally, the committee was informed that there will be high level planning on the Work Plan with committee chairs this summer. 

Workforce and Professional Development-April 22
This month the committee finalized the Shared Professional Early Childhood Core Competencies with a sentence addressing inclusion of work with all families considering diversity and socioeconomic disparity. The committee heard a request from the Health and Equity Partnership. The Partnership is rolling out new priorities, one of which is to, "Increase a diversified work-force to support economic opportunities for Racial, Ethnic and Linguistic minorities and all populations in NH" and are looking for representation on a work group. Carol Garhart, Mary Ellen Schule, and Karyn Yeatman are interested in learning more about it. The committee also heard from member Claudette Mallory about an Impact Project by the Office of Child Care to identify solutions to the childcare workforce shortage. Lisa Ranfos and Karyn Yeatman volunteered to participate if the proposal is accepted. The remainder of the meeting was spent with Peter Antal, beginning our work on the Data Element design. We discussed the type of data needed to better understand the Early Childhood Workforce, as well as which constituencies we will approach to gather the data. 

Quality of EC Programs and Services Committee Meeting- May 17
The Quality Committee discussed and reviewed progress to date on the collaboration/coordination tool kit. Karen Welford, contractor, presented a report on her meetings/interviews with five Regional Early Childhood Initiatives throughout the state regarding collaboration, as well as recommendations for materials/information to be included in the toolkit. Timelines and tasks were generated for completing and disseminating the kit. 

Evaluation Committee Meeting - April 11
The Evaluation committee reviewed and discussed a potential logic model format to better organize Spark NH's current efforts to impact early childhood systems. As a result of the discussion, many parts of the table were able to be filled in and recommendations provided on improving the tool for future iterations. 

Evaluation Committee Meeting - May 26 
In addition to receiving updates on WISDOM, Vroom, and strategic planning efforts for Spark NH, the evaluation committee further reviewed and refined the Spark NH logic model template, updated the Spark NH committee survey and made plans for its implementation, and reviewed next steps for completion of SAMHSA's Levels of Collaboration Scale with the Spark NH Council in August of 2016. 

Family Engagement Task Force Committee Meeting - May 14
The task force focused its time and energy on the family brochure. We were very intentional about why and how we came up with some of the language. But kept an open mind to ask for new suggestions. We have submitted the new changes to Laura and Lynn in hope that we can have a final product soon. The meeting was very productive and people felt energized.

Upcoming Meetings 

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

Thursday, July 20, 1:00-3:00 Communications and Public Awareness Committee
(Usually 1st Thursday of Every Other Month)

Tuesday, July 12th, 10:00-12:00
Executive Committee
(2ndTuesday of Every Month)
Friday, July 22d, 9:00-11:00
Workforce and Professional Development Committee
(4th Friday of Every Month) 

 Monday, August 1st, 9:00-11:00 Policy Committee
(1st Monday of Every Month)
Monday, August 1st, 2:00-4:00 Data Committee 
(1st Monday of Every Month)
Monday, August 8th, 9:00-10:30 Family Partnership and Engagement Task Force
(2nd Monday of Every Other Month
Tuesday, August 9th, 10:00-2:00 Executive Committee 
(2nd Tuesday of Every Month)
Tuesday, August 16, 1:00-3:00 Quality Committee
(3rd Tuesday of Every Other Month) 
Thursday, August 25th, 9:00-11:00
Spark NH Council Meeting 
(4th Thursday of Every Other Month)
Friday, August, 26th, 9:00-11:00 Workforce and Professional Development Committee
(4th Friday of Every Month) 

Upcoming Events, Workshops and Webinars
Visit the PORTAL at www.sparknh.org/portal to view upcoming events, workshops and webi nars, and job postings available throughout the state!  
Links of Interest 

Standing Together Against Suspension and Expulsion in Early Childhood: A Joint Statement 
In December 2014, The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Education released a joint statement outlining their plan to drastically reduce the amount of suspensions and expulsions in early childhood. Their joint policy statement on suspension and expulsion  explains the current problem and outlines recommendations for early childhood programs. View a list related resources here

Progress Report on Reducing Expulsion and Suspension in Early Learning Settings 
The Administration for Children and Families shines a light on policies and support for the workforce that are being put in place in states and communities to prevent, reduce, and eliminate suspension and expulsion in the early learning setting. Eight states and the District of Columbia are used as examples. Federal policy recommendations are made.

ADHD in Young Children: Use Recommended Treatment First 
National and state specific patterns of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Treatment among Insured Children Aged 2-5 Years
The Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) from the CDC outlines the benefits of behavior therapy for four to five year old children. Both the American Academy of Pediatrics and American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry recommend using behavior therapy before medication with young children with ADHD. The article explains the ADHD diagnosis and the benefits of behavior therapy. 

From Best Practices to Breakthrough Impacts 
The Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University released a report aimed at teaching the science behind early childhood. The full report opens by sharing a "roadmap to better outcomes", followed by an explanation of the science of early childhood development. The report shares five years of program evaluation research and the lessons to be learned from those evaluations, offers a way to produce breakthrough impacts, and concludes with a call to action. Read the Executive Summary here. 

State Medicaid and Early Intervention Agency Partnerships to Promote Healthy Child Development 
The National Academy for State Health Policy emphasize the importance of state Medicaid and Part C agencies working together to improve communication and level of service. The article recommends ways to foster a collaborative relationship. States that have taken steps to connect Medicaid and state Part C are highlighted. 

Lead Poisoning Prevention for Head Start Children 
All Head Start children are required to have their blood lead levels tested. Because there is no safe blood lead level, Head Start has created a comprehensive resource on their website to help families and caregivers take steps to reduce exposure to lead. Head Start's website includes basic information on lead, how to test for lead in children, the effects of lead, and how to prevent lead poisoning in children. 

Describing the Preparation and Ongoing Professional Development of the Infant/Toddler Workforce: An Analysis of the National Survey for Early Care and Education Data 
A brief from the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation reports on the data collected from the National Survey for Early Care and Education. The purpose of this brief is to provide and understanding of the strengths and needs of the early childhood workforce, in both center based and home based early care and education settings. 

Examining the Associations Between Infant/Toddler Workforce Preparation, Program Quality, and Child Outcomes: A Review of the Research Evidence 
This research brief, from the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, explores the existing evidence to draw a connection between workforce preparation and quality of care and child outcomes. This brief uses educational attainment, degree type, years experience, and training to define workforce preparation. Implications for policy, practice, and future research are included. 

The State of Preschool Yearbook 2015
The State of Preschool from the National Institute for Early Education Research reports on data from state-funded prekindergarten programs during the 2014-2015 school year. The Yearbook includes information from fifty seven prekindergarten programs in forty two states and the District of Columbia. Increases in spending and enrollment were seen during the 2014-2015 school year.    

Best Practices for Creating a Sustainable and Equitable Food System in the United States 
The state of food insecurity is outlined in a new report from the Center for American Progress. The report also shares effective tools for bringing healthy and sustainable food sources to underserved communities. Case studies of Vermont, California, Minnesota, and Washington are used as examples.

Capping Child Care Costs Could Save Families Thousands 
The Economic Policy Institute proposes that if child care costs are capped at 10% of family income, families can save up to $8,000 per child per year on child care. This cap would be made possible by state and federal investments in childcare. The report proposes that the future national GDP would be boosted significantly due to the increased access to quality early childhood education.  

Why Preschool Suspensions Still Happen (And How To Stop Them)
All Things Considered, on NPR, recently aired a piece on preschool suspensions. The radio piece is accompanied by an article which shares recent statistics on preschool suspensions and makes recommendations on how to stop them from happening. 

How Schools Are Becoming the New Safety Nets for New Hampshire's Neediest Students
School districts across New Hampshire are implementing initiatives and programs to help their neediest students receive the supports they need to thrive. Programs include meal programs, school food pantries, and partnerships with mental health centers. Videos that show Berlin educators discussing student needs and the programs created to meet those needs are included in the report. 

Early Learning in ESSA: Opportunities for States and Districts 
The First Five Years Fund outlines the provisions in the Every Student Succeeds Act and explains the effect those provisions have on early learning. With each provision they outline, FFYF provides planning ideas on how to implement and work with each provision. Links to additional resources are included along with the planning ideas. 

Assessing the Implementation and Cost of High Quality Early Care and Education: A Review of the Literature 
The Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation conducted a review of existing literature to compile a report that reviews the features of high quality education, ways to implement high quality education, and the cost of implementation. The report also includes cost studies and investigates the relationship between cost and quality. Conclusions and implications for the field of early childhood education are included.  

Ten Questions Local Policymakers Should Ask About Expanding Access to Preschool
The American Institutes for Research examined current preschool initiatives to inform their latest "The 10" installment. In this publication, AIR used these initiatives to create ten questions that should be asked by local policymakers and educators when making decisions or considering taking action on preschool. 

Policy Statement on Supporting the Development of Children Who Are Dual Language Learners in Early Childhood Programs 
Recent national estimates show that the number of children who are dual language learners are increasing. The Departments of Health and Human Services and Education released a joint statement underscoring the need for early childhood programs to be prepared to work to enhance the experiences of these young learners. The Dual language learners toolkit can help professionals working in the field. View the Fact Sheet: Supporting Dual Language Learners in Early Learning Settings  here.

High Quality Learning Settings Depend on a High Quality Workforce: Low Compensation Undermines Quality
The Department of Health and Human Services along with the Department of Education produced a report that explores the wage gap in early childhood. The report explains the numerous benefits of closing the pay gap. Included along with the report are the following resources: Fact Sheet: Troubling Pay Gap for Early Childhood Teachers, a national graphic, and individual state infographics

Compounding Stress: The Timing and Duration Effects of Homelessness on Children's Health 
Children's HealthWatch reports that no level of homelessness is a safe level. The report explores the effects that timing and duration of homelessness have on children's outcomes. Implications and policy solutions are also included.  

A First Look: Key Data on Equity and Opportunity Gaps in Our Nation's Public Schools
This report shares highlights from the The Civil Rights Data Collection, a survey of all public schools and districts in the United States. The survey and report include data from 99% of school districts in the United States. Information shared includes demographics of all responding school districts, information on school discipline, disability, early learning, college and career readiness, and others. This is the first look at the 2014-2015 CRDC. The ability to look at district specific data will be available in the fall.

Federal Autism Activities: Agencies are Encouraging Early Identification and Providing Services, and Recent Actions Could Improve Coordination
Early identification and intervention improves outcomes for children with autism. This report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office explores how early identification and intervention is encouraged by federal agencies, the steps federal agencies have taken to improve the coordination of research, and intervention services that are provided by federal health care and education programs. Read the full report here, and highlights here.

Seizing New Opportunities to Help Low-Income Mothers with Depression 
 CLASP reviewed current local, state, and federal efforts to help low-income mothers with depression. Provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act were included and CLASP makes policy recommendations based on those provisions. Child care, early education, health, and mental health stakeholders were interviewed to inform and guide this report.

2016 KIDS COUNT Data Book 
The 2016 KIDS COUNT Data Book was released in late June 2016. The report explores the overall well-being of Generation Z, today's youth. The report found that more of today's youth are making healthier choices and completing high school on time. The report makes policy recommendations as well. Click the following links to view the US Data Profile and the Individual State Profiles .