Newcomer Innovations

|Our newcomer innovations are designed to help immigrant families settle into Canadian society.

The inclusion of Canada’s immigrants in mainstream society is crucial, both for the quality of life for newcomers and for the development of our society. Newcomers, many times, face barriers upon arrival including poor English language skills and the lack of a social network to support and encourage them.

Many arrive knowing very little about the day-to-day workings of Canadian life; workings that most of us take for granted. How to enroll and prepare a child for school. How the parent-teacher relationship works. How to apply for a job. How and where to vote. How to get a library card.

The Mothers Matter Centre researches, designs, tests, and evaluates the feasibility of social innovations to ensure the well being, dignity, and social connections of high-risk vulnerable mothers. We partner with social purpose organizations to deliver pilot programs.

Social innovations seek to redress ongoing structural barriers isolated newcomer and refugee women confront when attempting to access settlement services. The Mothers Matter Centre is committed to developing program innovations pertaining to housing assistance, jobskills training, literacy, language training, healthcare, and more.

Reviving Hope and Home

Government Assisted Refugee (GAR) women and children are among the most victimized and vulnerable newcomers to Canada and too frequently arrive struggling with the impact of severe trauma that prolongs and frustrates their settlement process.

Reviving Hope and Home (RHH) is a modified HIPPY program that focuses on helping GAR mothers settle in Canada. RHH is individualized by an outreach worker who assesses each family’s needs and develops a plan to deliver the right services at the right time. HIPPY Home Visitors are trained to provide referrals and resources to families. Some of the curriculum is translated to help mothers comprehend the material. Additional curriculum is used based on the individual family’s needs.

Reviving Hope and Home Partners: ISSofBC, Simon Fraser University, TVO, First Book, The Rumie Initiative, Impuls

HIPPY Program and Early Language Learning (ELL)

HIPPY Program and Early Language Learning (ELL) combines the HIPPY program with language instruction for isolated immigrant and refugee mothers who have low-level English skills. It is specifically designed for mothers of young children with language skills at Canadian Language Benchmark level three or below.

Weekly HIPPY home visits are extended from 60 to 90 minutes to include English curriculum for the mothers. In addition to home visits, HIPPY mothers attend two-hour neighbourhood-based English language groups led by a language instructor twice a week to improve their English skills.

ELL Partners: ISSofBC, Working Women Community Centre

Supporting Mothers and Raising Toddlers (SMART)

Supporting Mothers and Raising Toddlers (SMART) is our latest newcomer innovation that augments existing HIPPY programming and innovations. SMART is designed to support parents of children ages 18 months to three years of age and focuses on fostering healthy early childhood development, increasing connections to community resources, strengthening social networks, and deepening parent-child bonds.

The newcomer and refugee families served by the HIPPY Program are isolated and live in low-income environments. They often have younger children who will benefi t from developmentally appropriate programming. Due to cultural, language, and other barriers, many participating families are not yet accessing services such as infant, toddler, and preschool programs, and may not have access to learning materials needed to foster healthy child development for young children.

Reviving Hope and Home Partners: FirstBook Canada, IMPULS

Literacy Plus

Literacy Plus is a guide to adding adult literacy activities to family service programs. It was developed as a proactive approach to embedding literacy instruction in the day-to-day needs of HIPPY families as they interact with one another and the various services and systems that shape their daily lives.

Many HIPPY families (primarily mothers) have low literacy levels that are compounded by their unfamiliarity with the practices and the expectations of public health agencies, child care centres, schools, and workplaces. Social isolation, in addition to working long hours and/or living in poverty, means that many of these families are unable to attend literacy classes away from their home environments. These families not only need to learn literacy skills, but also how these institutions work and what is expected of them to participate in Canadian society.

Literacy Plus provides needs-based at-home language instruction provided by trained Home Visitors and group activities that teach new skillsets and encourage the building of social language skills.

Interested in offering Literacy Plus? Email:

Care, Identity, and Inclusion (CII)

Care, Identity, and Inclusion (CII) is a set of community-based discussion materials that engage parents from culturally excluded communities in a discussion about the role they play in developing their children’s sense of cultural identity and how it affects their inclusion in Canadian society.

Using participatory facilitation and arts-based approaches, family participants enjoy a reflective opportunity to understand their lived experience of inclusion and exclusion, gain increased awareness of how they currently contribute to cultural awareness and inclusion for their children, and learn new strategies to improve this aspect of their caregiving in the future.

Interested in offering Care, Identity, and Inclusion (CII)? Email:

For more information, please contact:

Yusra Qadir, Project Manager, IRCC Program Innovations: