Sparkler is an evidence-based, mobile family engagement platform, available in English and Spanish, which is working with the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood and 211 Child Development to help ALL Connecticut families of 0-5 year olds. Sparkler offers:
- Tracking tools to monitor children’s social-emotional, cognitive, communication, and physical development, including the Ages & Stages Questionnaires®.
- Content that helps parents/caregivers support their children’s learning and development. Sparkler has a library of 1500+ play-based learning activities developed by early childhood educators, and is adding more all the time.
- Messaging tools to give parents/caregivers advice and support.
Partnering With Sparkler in CT
Sparkler has been working in Connecticut with the Office of Early Childhood and 211 Child Development since 2018. Starting in 2021, OEC made Sparkler available to all CT families with 0-5 year olds and to programs serving those families. Sparkler currently works many partner organizations across the state, including:
- State agencies, including: The CT Office of Early Childhood, State Department of Education, and Department of Children and Families;
- Sparkler’s pioneer communities — Bristol, Danbury, Manchester, Stamford, and Waterbury;
- CT Learn the Signs Act Early;
- CT OEC-funded home visiting;
- CT Birth to Three;
- GEER: 250+ schools across the state eligible for services;
- Family Resource Centers;
- Early childhood education programs, daycare centers, and family home daycares;
- Community-based organizations and collectives across the state.
If your school or program wants to either promote Sparkler to your families so they can use it independently (getting support from 211 Child Development) or use it more actively to engage your families, please fill out this CT Interest Form or email firstname.lastname@example.org! We are happy to help you get started.
Developmental Screening With Sparkler
Sparkler makes the mobile Ages & Stages Questionnaires® (ASQ) accessible to families of 0-5 year olds across the State of Connecticut. The ASQs on Sparkler are the same as the ASQs often given by educators or pediatricians except that they are mobile, accessible via smartphones or tablets.
When families first register for Sparkler, they share their child’s birth date and prematurity, if the child is under 2 years old. Based on this, Sparkler offers the family the first ASQ-3 and ASQ:SE-2 that their child is eligible for. When they complete the questionnaire and press “submit,” Sparkler automatically scores the ASQ and the results go to the ASQ online system and to the Sparkler Dashboard. Families receive a coaching message through Sparkler that the results have been received. They receive their screening results and support — if they need it — either from care coordinators at 211 Child Development OR from their program/provider (if their program/provider is “in the lead” with families).
If a program (like Home Visiting) is “in the lead,” they will take the lead in sharing and discussing results with the family. Otherwise, 211 Child Development will reach out to the family to share results and help to support them if they have questions or might need an evaluation or other support.
Helping Organizations Meet CT Requirements
In addition to helping providers support and engage families, Sparkler also helps participating providers to comply with legislation and accreditation requirements:
- In July 2021, Connecticut Governor Lamont passed legislation to support Child Find, which is related to Sparkler. The new law says if a child is ineligible for participation in preschool programs under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Act, they should be offered a screening for developmental and social-emotional delays using validated assessment tools, such as the Ages & Stages Questionnaires®. (ASQ-3 and ASQ:SE-2 are both available to families for free in CT via Sparkler.) Learn more from the State Department of Education. Here’s the form from Birth to Three for families not eligible for Part B. Learn more from Birth to Three about Referral Eligibility.
- Are you going through NAEYC accreditation? Sparkler can help you. NAEYC recommends that all children enrolled in an early childhood program should receive developmental screening within three months of program entry: Standard 4.C — Identifying Children’s Interests and Needs and Describing Children’s Progress. 4C.3 states: “Show that the children receive a developmental screening that evaluates language, cognitive, gross motor, fine motor, and social and emotional development.” NAEYC addresses the need for an assessment plan (specifically referencing the Ages & Stages Questionnaires) and the importance of communicating with families about all the areas of their child’s development, using both formal and informal opportunities to exchange information and to make them aware of confidentiality and disclosure policies.
Training Webinars for CT Providers
Learn how you can use Sparkler to connect with, engage, and support the families of children birth through aged 5 in Connecticut:
- NEW: Sparkler Partner Dashboard — Learn to Use the Library
- NEW: Sparkler Partner Dashboard — Developmental Screening
- NEW CT Registration Process For Families — How To Get Started
- General Sparkler Dashboard Training
- General Sparkler Introduction Webinar for Connecticut Providers
Sparkler FAQ for Providers:
- Find answers to many frequently asked questions in our FAQ.
Slides About Sparkler to Share and Adapt:
- Sparkler Overview for CT Providers: How Can We Help Every Child Get a Strong Start?
- Sparkler Overview for CT Parents: Help Connecticut Parents You Serve Understand Sparkler
Sparkler Handouts You Can Share with Families
Videos to Share About Sparkler:
- Sparkler overview (on YouTube)
- How to create your Sparkler account
- Sparkler overview for families (English) and Sparkler overview for families (Spanish)
- Developmental Screening overview for families (English) and Developmental Screening overview for families (Spanish)
How Can We Learn More and Get Involved?
Sparkler holds trainings, office hours, and learning communities regularly. Please join us! We’ll let you know if you’re a Connecticut-based provider using Sparkler. If you’re not on our list, please email us: email@example.com.
Become a Partner Organization
Are you a Connecticut-based provider interested in using Sparkler? Please let us know by filling out this form. We are happy to help you get started. Once we do, we will share custom handouts, fliers, and other materials that you can share with the families you serve. It’s quick and easy to get started.
If you have any questions or need other support getting started with Sparkler or using it, please visit http://playsparkler.org/connecticut or reach out: firstname.lastname@example.org.