Welcome to Spark NH!
Dear Friend of Spark NH
New Website

Spark NH's new website is live!  The address is the same but the site is much improved.  We worked to make it easier to use and read and it's even mobile friendly!  Most of the features of the old site are still available but we have added pages for New Hampshire's regional early childhood initiatives and made it a bit zippier.  Please check it out and refer your friends and colleagues!  http://sparknh.com/ 

Systems Building Support Appeal

We were recently asked to create a direct to donors appeal for Spark NH which I thought you might enjoy reading:
Help Us Create the Early Childhood System All New Hampshire Children Deserve

We are not going to tell you a story of one child that your donation will help - because you can help ALL children in New Hampshire. Here's how.
Systems change - doesn't sound exciting, does it? But it's essential. The healthy development of our 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 productive lives, we put our future prosperity at risk. And right now, despite good intentions, lots of expertise and passion, our early childhood system sometimes works against the best interest of children and families. We're working to fix that.
New Hampshire does not have a system designed to address all aspects of a child's development in a coordinated fashion. Rather, we have a bunch of separate parts - health care, early education, family supports - all working hard, but not in alignment. Our organization, Spark NH, was created to coordinate, oversee and support an effective early childhood system. We're bringing these groups together, creating plans, making administrative changes, and doing all that behind the scenes work so essential to the healthy functioning of any system.

Since our work began, we have:
  • Created the Spark NH Framework for Action policy priorities to educate policymakers about how they can best help children thrive;
  • Trained business and community leaders on the science of development to improve understanding of the importance of the early years;
  • Created cross-sector early childhood professional competencies; and
  • Gathered and analyzed statewide data on child well-being and created an interactive online data system for professionals and the public.
We have lots of work to do to make a comprehensive, coordinated early childhood system a reality.

Will you help us help ALL New Hampshire children?

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

Carroll County Early Childhood Coalition

The Carroll County Early Childhood Coalition (CCECC) once again helped to coordinate the Carroll County KReady Program, providing books and other school readiness materials to the 420 Carroll County children expected to enroll in kindergarten this fall.  The Believe in Books Literacy Foundation continued their annual support of the program with the donation of 400 gently used and new books to give to all the children. Families also received information about fun activities to do with their children as well as information about the daily Vroom phone app that parents can download for suggestions of activities to do with their children to make everyday moments brain-building moments. Best wishes to all of our incoming kindergartners and their families this fall!

Claremont Learning Partnership

No update.

Concord School District Safe Schools/Healthy Students

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. A three-session summer series will be offered on Wednesday evenings in July.  Featured topics include; Mindfulness; Early Childhood Trauma and Compassion Fatigue. The workshop series will allow participants to revisit some previously presented material, with opportunities for a deeper understanding of the material and how it applies to the early childhood setting.  All workshops are free to participants.

Coos Coalition for Young Children and Families

The Coos Coalition has recently received funding to support a Growing Great Kids coach. Since 2011 Coalition has made a commitment to support Growing Great Kids (GGK) as the foundational evidence based curriculum for home visitors.  There are currently 19 home visitors from three different organizations trained in GGK (out of a total of 26 home visitors in Coos County).  Although staff are trained in GGK, it is not always implemented with fidelity.  The coach will be selected from current GGK trained staff and will be paid an additional 5 hours a week to meet with GGK staff to review curriculum and incorporate all aspects of curriculum, for each visit.  The Coach will meet weekly for a group consultation with GGK staff at different locations in Coos and facilitate quarterly meetings among GGK staff to allow for opportunities to connect, review materials, support each other and share best practice.

Greater Nashua Smart Start Coalition

Greater Nashua Smart Start Coalition is focusing on a three activities over the summer while we identify leaders to move our goal plan forward.  We are spreading the word about Vroom through the Greater Nashua Healthcare communities.  Erin Wallace, student at Franklin Pierce College, has developed a presentation for us and is making appointments for lunch & learn opportunities at our family medical practices. We recently promoted Vroom at the Souhegan Valley Chamber of Commerce Health and Wellness Fair and the Ash Street Community Block Party.  The NH Center for Women and Enterprise and will be hosting an evening for owners and operators of child-care centers and home-businesses.  During this event, our coalition will share connections to community resources that can help strengthen their educational program delivery and Center for Women and Enterprise will be offering some tools and resources that will help strengthen their business as well.  We are still working to build momentum for parent lead meet-ups.  Parents are busy and it is hard to find good meeting times. Lastly, we look forward to checking out the new spaces to promote positive parenting and early brain building at Child and Family Services, Nashua Public Library and with My Brother's Keeper Initiative.

Greater Tilton Area Family Resource Center

The Greater Tilton Area Family Resource Center has taken the initiative to connect family supports and recovery supports in a training geared towards home visitors.  Two of our trainers spoke at the Head Start conference held in Massachusetts for home visitors, program managers and directors, sharing the stages of change and the stages of recovery and how supporting parenting women with substance abuse disorder involves special skills that are easily incorporated into family supports.  This has grown out of our own early supports and parenting education programs being affected by the opioid crisis in our area.  One upcoming training, scheduled for Saturday July 8th,9-5 for a cost of $30 Recovery Basics for Parents, is a great introduction to understanding the major concepts of supporting young parents with substance use disorder.
We are also excited to be implementing our home visit program to welcome children and babies into our community through collaboration with community partners, funded partially by the Vroom implementation grant.  Families bringing children ages 0-3 for immunizations, checkups, maternal health visits, prenatal appointments are offered the home visit by a qualified  home visitor from our center and a volunteer community partner, in which they receive a smart phone if needed, to access the Vroom application as well as information on early childhood resources in our community.  Our recovery coaches and family support specialists are receiving specific training through Child Care Aware, so that we never miss an opportunity to connect families to this resource.  
We are also continuing work with community partners through a school district initiative.  We are excited to see the connections being made among all stake holders in our area!
Impact Monadnock

Impact Monadnock is wrapping up Year 1 of implementation of its strategic plan and celebrating small "wins" across the Monadnock Region. This spring, Vroom was launched at 2 high-visibility community events for children and families, which resulted in follow-up distribution of Vroom information and materials to 24 locations, including infant and pediatric hospital units. The Business Ambassadors of Impact Monadnock held a Breakfast Roundtable Event in early May to formally announce their new Membership Program. A Learning Community for early childhood professionals who received Pyramid Model Training held 5 meetings since last fall and is strategizing around meetings for the upcoming school year. At the end of June, a group of providers connected to discuss the development of a comprehensive list of providers in the area who offer emotional supports to young children (0-6 years old) and their families in need. All this work, and so much more, has been led by community coalitions while Impact Monadnock interviews for a new Project Director and prepares for Year 2 of implementation. Impact Monadnock and Monadnock United Way are aligning metrics and data collection practices to strengthen evaluation techniques.

Project LAUNCH Manchester

Project LAUNCH in Manchester partners with the Manchester Community Health Center, Manchester Police Department and YWCA NH to provide ACERT (Adverse Childhood Experiences Response Team), courtesy of funding from HNH Foundation.  There is an ever-growing research base that demonstrates trauma exposure can be mitigated in young children through responsive caregiving, community support and resources, protective factors known to build resilience, and accessible and available age-appropriate treatment. Traumatic events in early childhood can have a profound impact on young children, directly affecting their social-emotional development. When adult caregiver capacities are built through positive supports and treatment, children are provided with the critical elements they need - healthy serve-and-return relationships for optimal brain growth and development. In addition, when caregivers feel supported and connected to their communities, they are able to grow and expand their "resilience" to manage other stressors and crises in day-to-day life, lessening the likelihood for additional trauma to occur. The ACERT consists of a police officer, crisis services advocate, and community health worker. The team responds to incidents in which children were exposed to violence as soon as the police have secured the scenes. ACERT connects children and families exposed to violence/trauma with an advocate who provides ongoing support, referral, and access to organizations offering services that mitigate the deleterious effects of trauma experienced by the children and help families build resilience.

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.  In June, Somersworth Ready Together was able to be part of many community events: Somersworth School District showcase, Kindergarten screening, Somersworth Farmer's Market and Somersworth International Children's Festival.  At these events, Somersworth Ready Together talked to hundreds of community members and families about Vroom and our initiative.  We will continue to take part in the Somersworth Farmer's Market every Monday to continue to distribute Vroom materials and talk to families.  We will also be providing a story time for children and families during our time at the market. 
Somersworth Ready Together is very excited to have received funding from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation and the United Way.  We are excited to start our family visits with all incoming kindergarten children and their families. We will also be looking to hire a Part-Time Coordinator.

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 summer and fall.

Thrive Laconia

Current Thrive Laconia activities include updates to the Framework for Action and Community of Practice Regional Initiative Crosswalk, Trauma Informed Early Childhood Services and 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.

Stay Connected. Stay Engaged.

Here are some posts you may have missed!
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Spark NH is in the News!

Check out some of these Letters to the Editors

" Full-day Kindergarten Makes a Difference" - Seacoast Online,  March 23rd
"We can and must do better to ensure that our youngest citizens have the chance to thrive." Click the link below to see what else Kathleen Murphy has to say about the importance of full- day kindergarten!

" Speak up for Full-Day Kindergarten " - Concord Monitor, April 1st
"High quality early education helps to develop the emotional skills young children need so that they learn to focus on the tasks they encounter and be successful as students and as productive citizens."  Check out what else Steve Barba has to say about Full Day Kindergarten! 

"Drug Education Needs to Start Early" - Concord Monitor, July 9th
While prevention in middle school is important, we have to set our focus much earlier in children's developmental trajectories if we are to effectively prevent the kind of crises we are now experiencing."
 Read what Laura Milliken and Chief Nick Willard have to say about early intervention here in New Hampshire!

Want t o submit a letter to the editor to your local paper? We'll help you make that happen!
Upcoming Events

Policy Committee Meeting -  7/10 - 9:00 AM -10:15 AM at 2 Delta Drive
Executive Committee -  7/11 - 12:00 PM-2:00 PM at 2 Delta Drive
Data Committee - 7/11 - 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM at 2 Delta Drive
Workforce and Professional Development - 7/28 - 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM at 2 Delta Drive

Policy Committee Meeting - No August Meeting
Executive Committee -  8/8 - 12:00 PM-2:00 PM at 2 Delta Drive
Spark NH Council Meeting - 8/24 - 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM at 2 Delta Drive
Workforce and Professional Development - 9/22 - 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM at 2 Delta Drive

Links of Interest

Source: Annie E. Casey Foundation
"In this year's report, New Hampshire ranked first among states for overall child well-being, moving up one from 2016."
These States are Best, Worst for Raising Children
Source: CNN
"The states ranked highest on the child well-being list tended to be in the Northeast or upper Midwest, while the ones ranked lowest were in the South or Southwest. Speer said a big reason for these rankings had to do with each state's approach toward children's health care."
Child Welfare Outcomes Report Data
  Source: Children's Bureau
"Child Welfare Outcomes, an annual report to Congress published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, provides information on state performance in seven categories of outcomes that are widely accepted performance objectives for child welfare practice."

Source: BUILD Initiative
"Continuous Quality Improvement is a process which ensures that organizations and their partners are systemic and intentional about improving services and practices, and increasing positive outcomes for children and families."

The Head Start Advantage: A Research Compendium - June 2017
Source: National Head Start Association (NHSA)
"This compendium compiles summaries of several key studies that have been published in recent months that represent the best knowledge to date about Head Start's effectiveness. These findings, including economic analyses, longitudinal studies, and secondary analyses, reveal positive cognitive and non-cognitive outcomes for children who participated in Head Start."

"The big mission: empower children growing up in poverty with the research-based tools to transform their own developing brains"

Source: NPR
"The new Georgetown Law report argues that, since the effects of trauma can be physical, "body-mind" interventions, like yoga, may be able to uniquely address them. Regulated breathing, for example, calms the parasympathetic nervous system. Practicing staying in the moment counteracts some of the dissociative effects of trauma. And the physical activity of yoga, of course, can directly improve health."
Source: The Washington Post
" Despite  the gloomy news from studies showing  that tweens and teens spend an average of six to nine hours a day on screens, more families with kids are gardening now than 10 years ago. According to the National Gardening Association, gardening in households with children increased by 25 percent from 2008 to 2013, as families have awakened to the hidden benefits of the ancient pastime."
Source: PBS
"This preliminary study is the first to show how mobile devices impact speech development in children, raising a question that fills the minds of many parents: How much time should my child spend with a mobile device?"

Source: The Hechinger Report
"Research shows that when young children, many of whom are still learning classroom coping skills, are pushed out of school early and repeatedly, the impact can be irreversibly damaging." 

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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