November  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.
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 Public Awareness - You Can Help

The healthy development of our state's youngest children is fundamental to New Hampshire's future. When we fail to provide children with what they need to build a strong foundation for healthy and productive lives, we put our future prosperity and security at risk. A rapidly growing body of research from neuroscience, molecular biology, genomics, and child development shows that the best way to create a next generation who can lead our communities and grow our economy is to provide children with stable, interactive early childhood experiences--conditions that literally build the architecture of children's brains. However, there is a lack of understanding that brain development in early childhood is vital to later learning and development, leading to weak support for comprehensive early childhood systems. 

Spark NH has been strategically disseminating carefully framed materials to encourage better understanding of the importance of early childhood in the Granite State. We have a number of tools that I'll talk about below, but to amplify our voice we need your help and connections to get the word out.

Children: the Bedrock of the Granite State Presentation

Spark NH created a research-based PowerPoint presentation that we bring to leadership groups across the state entitled, "Children: The Bedrock of the Granite State." ("Bedrock" presentation).  We have found the presentation to be effective in engaging audiences and helping them to understand why investment in the early years is so critical. In the past we have presented in the New Hampshire Legislature, to school superintendents across the state, at the Department of Education's Summer Summit, to Rotary Clubs, town select boards, school boards, the New Hampshire Business and Industry Association and many other leadership groups. 

You can see a pdf of the slides in the PowerPoint at 

We also created a video version of the presentation that is available for your use.  We would like your help in connecting to more New Hampshire leadership groups to disseminate this messaging.  Do you know of groups in your community who should see the presentation?  Are you a member of your professional organization or rotary club where we could present?  Is your business, organization or agency interested in hosting a lunch and learn?  Do you need a speaker for a statewide conference?  Please contact us at if you have ideas or connections for us. 

Banners and Brochures
Our banners tell the core story of early childhood: that we should care about early childhood because "capable children are the bedrock of a strong and healthy Granite State;" they describe the development of brain architecture, the importance of serve and return relationship, how toxic stress can derail development and finally that the solution to these problems is innovation in the early years.  We have 3 sets of 6 1/2 foot tall banners and 3 sets of smaller table-top banners which are available to borrow for your events.

Y ou can see a photo of our banners at: 

Our brochures mirror the banner text and may be viewed on our website at:

We can make brochures available for your use.

Spark NH has a number of videos you can see on our YouTube Channel and on our website.
"We are the Granite State"

This animated short video, narrated by Scott Spradling, is available in both 30 or a 90 second versions.  It presents why early childhood is important to the Granite State.  It is a great PSA.

"Why I Care"

This 5 minute video features New Hampshire leaders from around the state talking about why they believe early childhood is so important.

Pledge Video
at 1 minute 19 seconds this video features NH leaders reading the Spark NH pledge to NH's children. 

If your co-workers, friends, or others have not already taken the pledge, this is a great tool to convince them - or to post on Facebook.  They can join the nearly 900 who have pledged - including our Governor and entire Congressional delegation.

Please think about whether you can help to use these tools to make a difference in New Hampshire's understanding of the importance of the early years.

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 worked in partnership with SAU9 and NH Listens to present a Community Action Forum entitle "Raising Mt. Washington Valley" on October 12th.  Close to 50 community members attended to provide input on actions needed to address the following concerns:
  • Assuring access to quality early childhood programs for all MWV children
  • Strengthening the network of resources and community awareness through coalition building to support and value the development of all young children
  • Supporting and engaging families through information sharing and education; building partnerships among parents and providers, including our public schools
These concerns were identified through a summer outreach effort which connected with over 100 people in the SAU9 region.  A full report is in the process of being compiled and will be posted at

In Claremont, we are focused on increasing the access to high quality early childhood education for all children. We recognize the importance of early intervention to address issues related to such things as poverty, and are actively engaged in improving the outcomes for people in our community. Our drop-in play space for children ages birth-5 has already helped to break down barriers and bring people together. Collaborating with city officials, community members, school personnel and other organizations, we have formed a strong early childhood coalition. We have been so fortunate to work with NH Listens to get the ball rolling.

Concord School District Safe Schools/Healthy Students Grant Initiative

The Concord School District Safe Schools/Healthy Students Grant Initiative is pleased to announce that four professionals from the fields of education, community mental health, and social work will have completed the year-long process of receiving the Early Childhood and Family Mental Health Credential (ECFMHC) this month.
The ECFMHC is a credential that validates experience, commitment and competence in the fields of Early Childhood and Mental Health and is jointly endorsed by the NH Association of Infant Mental Health and the Child Development Bureau of NH Health and Human Services.  The newly credentialed professionals are eager to apply all that they have learned in their work with young children and families. 

Coos Coalition for Young Children and Families 
The Coos Coalition for Young Children and Families has spent the last two years researching and developing a user friendly way of presenting data that doesn't just provide numbers, but allows the data to tell a story. In the fall of 2015, the Coalition contracted with Dr. Lynn Davey of Davey Strategies, to create the platform for the child and family indicators we had identified  and she has just completed the final version of a data based picture of families and children aged 0-8 in Coos County.  The presentation demonstrates how outcomes for children and families are influenced by a wide range of factors and it is this wider environment that creates the context in which early childhood programs must work if we want to affect positive change for families and children. The Coos Story will be available on the Coalition's website ( ) sometime in mid-November.

Thrive Laconia
The Thrive Laconia Facebook page tops the list of branding and communication efforts, followed by banners, bookmarks, and flyers. During the month of September, Thrive had an article, about the importance of early screening and referral, published in the Daily Sun, Laconia Citizen, and Gilford Steamer newspapers. On November 9, Thrive Laconia will host an event for stakeholders and community champions (about 50 people). The 5:00-8:00 PM event will feature the Spark NH banners, and the agenda will include a light dinner, Bedrock video, Thrive data harvest results, and an open-space activity to determine 3 focus areas.

Project LAUNCH
Project LAUNCH has redesigned its strategy related to Enhanced Home Visiting to focus on building an infrastructure that will bring together disparate home visiting programs in Manchester for shared learning and improved practice. The project will establish a Community of Practice (CoP) for Manchester-based home visitors from several programs. 
Training and technical assistance to home visitors will continue, but be based on discussions and areas of need as identified in the CoP. The CoP model will be structured to 1
) enhance the cohesiveness and connections among home visiting programs that span agencies and funding sources; 2) increase support among home visitors; 3) identify unmet needs of young children and families and gaps in services; and 4) be easily sustained and replicated by other communities.

Impact Monadnock
Three significant community wide events this Fall marked a concerted effort to engage citizens, policymakers, business people and others in the work of Impact Monadnock which has committed to enhancing Monadnock Region well-being through a targeted investment in children age 0-5 and their families. 
More than 130 people attended 5 NH Listens forums on early childhood in 4 school districts in September followed by a Legislators Forum that asked local candidates for state House & Senate seats to discuss major children and family issues. On Oct. 26th, the Business Ambassadors of Impact Monadnock hosted a roundtable on how to encourage region businesses to become more family-friendly.

Greater Nashua Early Childhood Initiative
The Greater Nashua Early Childhood Initiative's mission is to engage people in greater Nashua from all walks of life to improve early childhood outcomes for our young children. We are wrapping up our outreach and research efforts. In October, we hosted a series of focus groups as well as RaisingNH screenings in the Greater Nashua area, followed by community discussions. 

Our Action Forum on Early Childhood will be held on November 18th at Nashua Community College.* At this event, we will review our research findings and collaborate to identify one or two bold ideas that can be pursued in the coming year. Our goal is to create focused, feasible, effective actions that fit the greater Nashua community and have a long-term positive impact on our kids' futures.  
*Doors will open at 5:30 on November 18th; conversation will begin at 6:00.  A light dinner and childcare will be provided. 

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". Recently, we hosted an "Action Forum" where we convened nearly 35 people to generate feedback and input related to three key areas: 1 - Financial supports needed from the city, employers, families and 2 - Variables related to readiness such as access to quality child care and 3 - Nonjudgmental supports for families. Next, the input gathered from the Action Forum will be shared with the entire distribution of people involved so their voices will be heard and represented in the final report of recommended actions.

Somersworth Early Childhood Coalition

The SECC held two successful events this month.  We partnered with Goodwin Community Health in a literacy event to start the month.  The event was sponsored by a grant from CLiF, (Children's Literacy Foundation).  Children and families were treated to a storyteller and each child received two free books.  We also hosted a screening of Raising New Hampshire attended by many families, area childcare providers and some community members.  After the movie screening, breakout groups were formed and facilitators lead discussions on how the movie related to Somersworth's children, families, and community.  Groups were able to relate their thoughts and impressions and their input will be used in the SECC's future work.


The Greater Tilton Area Resource Center is continuing to work with NH Listens to increase our capacity to engage our community in issues of Early Childhood.  As we listen to those coming to these meetings, we are excited to see common themes and interests crossing sectors.  We will be setting goals and and developing an action plan and are so excited to have the schools, care providers, parents, early education programs and businesses engaged in the process.  Through the help of collaborating partners, funding sources are being identified as stake holders have learned through this process, that engagement leads to invested interest and resources coming from unexpected sources. Stay tuned for our 'bold experiments' that are on the way!

Committee and Task Force Meeting Summaries   

Executive Committee Meeting - September 13, 2016 
The committee debriefed the last council meeting and drafted the October agenda.  A brief 6-month director check in took place.  The report to the Governor was shared.  Spark NH membership and officers was discussed.  There are some vacant seats that will be filled soon.  There will be a call for consensus at the October meeting for officers.  Federal Advisories and how they fit within the work of Spark was discussed.  An update was given on the equity training and strategic planning process.  The DOE summer summit was debriefed.  The Family Resource Connection collection has been moved to NH Family Voices.
Communications and Public Awareness Committee Meeting - September 1, 2016 
Ellen Edge agreed to take notes at the meetings.  The meeting summary was approved.  2-1-1 task force gave an update.  The successful Gubernatorial Forum and plans for follow up were discussed.  There was an update on ACERT and Project LAUNCH.  An update on the strategic planning process was given.  The Bedrock video was discussed and ways to distribute it were brainstormed.   

Data Committee Meeting - August 1, 2016 
Lynn Davey reviewed the "Priority Indicators for Visualization" with the Data Committee, based on the work she is doing for the grant that was funded in April. The committee reviewed Lynn's recommendations regarding what sections would be used for each item and whether or not to leave out data sets that are older and/or no longer available. She also had suggestions for data that we might want to include but wasn't on original list. Yulya Spantchak from the NH Charitable Foundation joined the committee to discuss the NH Tomorrow Initiative and Early Childhood Indicators project.

Workforce and Professional Development Committee Meeting - July 22, 2016
There was no June meeting, the committee took up its work from May on the Workforce Data project. The interview protocol was completed. Committee members volunteered to set up individual meetings with 14 different agencies and organizations. These interviews will be conducted by teams of 2 to 3 members.  Results will be recorded and emailed to Peter Antal.  A timeline was devised leading to completion of the analysis by December.  Claudette Mallory presented an overview of the Child Care Aware Registry as an option for collecting data and creating a record of professional development activities.  She also mentioned that NH has received a US DHHS Administration for Children and Families grant for technical assistance to address the crisis in the child care workforce, "the NH Workforce Impact Project." 

Workforce and Professional Development Committee Meeting - August 26, 2016
Workforce Data Interview Teams that have completed reported out on their findings.  The remaining groups will be contacted during September and October.  The committee turned to reviewing the other Blueprint recommendations and decided to spend time as a whole group during subsequent meetings collating the results of the smaller groups and adding any other strategies.  Tessa McDonnell summarized the expectations of a Developmental Screening, Referral, Diagnosis, and Services Task Force that is being formed.  The group will meet during the fall and recommend action steps to expand and strengthen the "Watch Me Grow" system.  Committee members suggested names of individuals who might contribute as members of the Task Force.

Policy Committee - September 12, 2016 
A report was given on the August 30 NH Gubernatorial Forum on Young Children, coordinated by Spark NH and co-hosted by over 60 prominent organizations.  It was a solid success for a first-ever event.  More updates were given on the new advocacy "hub" being formed by and housed at New Futures, which will include a focus on health, including early childhood development.  A specific report on the child care advocacy table being convened by the hub was given.  As previously reported, the hub will first turn its attention to 3 of the policies outlined in the Framework for Action for NH's Young Children: access to quality child care and sufficient funding for family resource centers and home visiting.  Further updates were also given on the Return on Investment Study, supported by the Endowment for Health and the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation.  The committee members shared other 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.

Policy Committee - October 3, 2016
Committee members were urged to attend the Oct 26 training on early childhood messaging by Dr. Lynn Davey, Spark NH's communications and messaging consultant.  The training was being hosted by the new advocacy "hub" at New Futures.  Updates on the hub were given.  There was an in-depth and rich sharing amongst the committee members about other planned advocacy and policy efforts related to the  Framework for Action for NH's Young Children .  The committee had had an Equity Fellow who can no longer participate, so a request for a new Equity Fellow was supported.  Committee members were urged to volunteer to be a mentor to the new Fellow in their participation on the committee.  Updates were given on the regional early childhood efforts that participate in Spark NH's community of practice.  The meeting evaluations were positive.
Evaluation Committee - September 9, 2016
Updates from the previous meeting were reviewed.  The results of the committee member survey were shared and discussions took place around differences from last year, where results could be presented, and changes for next round.  The levels of collaboration scale survey was discussed.  Updates from other committees, the Council, Project LAUNCH, and the strategic planning process.  

Upcoming Meetings 

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

Thursday, November 3, 1:00-3:00
Meeting Cancelled 
Communications and Public Awareness Committee
(1st Thursday of Every Other Month)
Friday, November 4, 2:00-4:00 Evaluation Committee
(1st Friday of Every Other Month)
Monday, November 7, 9:00-10:30 Policy Committee 
1st Monday of Every Month)
Monday, November 7, 2:00-4:00 Data Committee 
1st Monday of Every Month)
Tuesday, November 8, 10:00-12:00
Executive Committee
(2nd Tuesday of Every Month)
Friday, November 18, 9:00-11:00 Workforce and Professional Development Committee
(4th Friday of Every Month) 

Monday, December 5, 9:00-11:00 Policy Committee
(1st Monday of Every Month)
Monday, December 5, 2:00-4:00 Data Committee 
(1st Monday of Every Month)
Monday, December 12, 9:00-10:30
Place: NH Children's Trust, 10 Ferry St., Concord, NH, 03301
Family Partnership and Engagement Task Force
(2nd Monday of Every Other Month
Tuesday, December 13, 10:00-2:00 Executive Committee 
(2nd Tuesday of Every Month)
Tuesday, October 18th 1:00-3:00 Quality Committee
(3rd Tuesday of Every Other Month) 
Thursday, December 15, 9:00-11:00
Spark NH Council Meeting 
(4th Thursday of Every Other Month)
Meeting date and time TBA Workforce and Professional Development Committee
(4th Friday of Every Month)