CONCORD — The University of New Hampshire, in collaboration with the New Hampshire Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services, has secured a $3.8 million federal grant to enable a statewide alignment of the early childhood care and education system in order to better serve children and families in the Granite State. The grant, Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five, from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families, will help state officials to better understand and build a solid foundation to improve outcomes for children, families, schools, and communities.
Through collaborations with early childhood stakeholders, providers, and families, the state will conduct a comprehensive assessment of the needs and strengths of its current approach to supporting young children and their families. The assessment will be used to generate a strategic plan that will guide the creation of a more effective and assessable ECCE system. This work will also extend the current and increased collaboration between the NH DOE and DHHS, under the guidance of DOE Deputy Commissioner Christine Brennan and DHHS Associate Commissioner Christine Tappan.
“Strong families are one of best resources for raising strong and resilient children,” stated Frank Edelblut, the commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Education. “Strong and resilient children have higher achievement in school and avoid risky behaviors. Through this collaborative work, we hope to create a vision for these attributes in our families and children, all across New Hampshire.”
“The research is clear, successful child development depends on safe, stable and nurturing environments during early childhood,” said Tappan. “The next generation of leaders is growing up today, and we are excited to bring forth this effort for all of New Hampshire’s children. Establishing a coordinated system across early childhood so that children in the state benefit from positive experiences and relationships will ensure that New Hampshire’s future is in good hands.”
The grant will also allow the state to increase parent knowledge and choice about available ECCE programs and services to facilitate access and smooth transitions among programs and services from birth into the transition to kindergarten.
“This grant is a true collaboration between the university, the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services, the Governor’s Early Childhood Council, and early childhood advocates and practitioners from all over the state,” added Dr. Kimberly Nesbitt, the grant’s primary investigator and an assistant professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at UNH. “Together we are working to create a collective vision for quality early childhood care and education to ensure that all children and families of New Hampshire are healthy, learning, and thriving.”
Lastly, the grant provides opportunity to strengthen state, regional, and local ECCE resources, including enhancing professional development and education for the early childhood workforce and improving the state’s Quality Recognition and Improvement System.
Other organizations involved in the project include Spark NH, the RAND Corporation, NH Family Voices, Parent Information Center of NH, Child Care Aware of NH, the New Hampshire Preschool Technical Assistance Network, the state’s Early Childhood Coalitions, and representatives from early childhood coalitions and family and community members.