Conducting Needs Assessment for NH’s Early Childhood Advisory Council, Spark NH

Dates: 2012-2013

State: New Hampshire

Client(s): Spark NH

Service: Applied Research & Evaluation

Technical Expertise: Maternal and Child Health, State and Local Public Health

The “Improving Head Start for School Readiness Act of 2007” included a mandate for each state to establish an Early Childhood Advisory Council. On September 7, 2011 Governor Lynch officially enacted NH’s early childhood advisory council, Spark NH. Spark NH was created to promote a comprehensive system of early childhood programs and services to realize its vision that all New Hampshire children and their families are healthy, learning, and thriving now and in the future.

Spark NH contracted with JSI/New Hampshire to conduct a needs assessment of the quality and availability of early childhood education and development programs and services for expectant families and children from birth through grade 3 and their families, including an assessment of the availability of high-quality pre-kindergarten services for low income children in the state. As part of this project, JSI identified opportunities for and barriers to collaboration and coordination among federally-funded and state-funded child development, child care, and early childhood education programs and services including collaboration and coordination among state agencies responsible for administering such programs.

Based on the results of this work, JSI developed recommendations for adjustments and changes to the early childhood network in NH, with the goal of better serving the needs of the birth through third grade population and their families. JSI developed data briefs for 12 priority statements, illustrated with GIS maps indicating the early childhood system's "performance" related to each statement, as well as a presentation aimed at decision-makers regarding final recommendations.