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HIPPY Frequently Asked Questions

What is the flagship Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY) program? The HIPPY program is an evidence-based program that works with families in the home to support parents, primarily mothers, in their critical role as their child’s first and most important teacher. HIPPY strengthens families and communities by empowering mothers to prepare their children for success in school. At the core of the HIPPY program is a structured home visit that: • Delivers a curriculum based on the needs of children to become school-ready; • Leverages role-play as an important method of teaching the skills needed to implement the child-centred curriculum; and • Features a peer Home Visitor system that enables mothers, who may be hard to reach because of social isolation, poverty, language, or other cultural issues, to feel comfortable participating in the program. The HIPPY program employs moms, often graduates of the program, as Home Visitors who then work with newcomer, refugee, and Indigenous mothers in their most important role – as their child’s first teacher. When paired with a Home Visitor, mothers develop their skills and gain confidence and self-esteem. The program builds bridges to the larger community, ending isolation and helping mothers take steps to prepare their kids for success in school. Home Visitors receive weekly training, employment experience, and career mentoring that supports them in their transition to other work or higher education. The HIPPY program’s holistic approach benefits home visitors, mothers, and their families. The HIPPY program started in Israel more than 40 years ago. It is now in 11 countries around the world.

Who may sponsor a HIPPY program? HIPPY programs are operated by a variety of institutions and agencies including school districts, preschool programs, department of health, housing authorities, children welfare and other community-based organizations.

What does HIPPY cost? Costs to the community agency are approximately $3,000 per child, per year. HIPPY is free to the parents who participate.

How many children need to be enrolled the first year and each subsequent year? A model program enrolls 60 the first year and 60 additional children each year. By year three, a program will deliver all three ages (3-5) curriculums up to 180 children. The minimum allowable annual enrollment is 45 children. Studies have shown that smaller programs have less viability, per child cost is excessive and they are not as effective.

How many years can a Home Visitor stay with a HIPPY program? It is strongly recommended that home visitors are employed no longer than three years. The model calls for a home visitor to enter the program with a child the same age as the cohort being served. New home visitors every three years helps ensure a fresh and energized perspective, eliminate staff “burn-out”, and fosters the economic development of the community.

Are programs ever adapted to the local environment? The HIPPY model can be quite flexible in cases where adaptations are deemed necessary due to local conditions. However, there are core elements that are essential to effective programming that must be included.

Is there a need to role play each week? Is there a need to role play all the activities? Yes. Role play has a dual purpose. It is the method of instruction, but it is also the only way to really check for full comprehension. It is essential to make sure that the home visitors fully comprehend the lessons before they work with the parents; and it is essential to confirm that the parents fully understand how to make the lesson meaningful for their child. The only way to be sure of these aspects is by completely role playing all the activities in the weekly packet.

Do programs have to start with the Age 3 curriculum? It is recommended that programs implement Age 3, although it is possible to start with the Age 4 curriculum. Beginning implementation with Age 3 is desirable for several reasons, including the importance of a rich educational environment for children as early as possible; a greater length of time to prepare children for success in school and in life; the younger the age of the child, the easier it is to engage parents in educational activities involving their child; and the increased potential for developing good habits (both children and parents).

Do programs have to provide the Age 5 curriculum? Programs are required to offer the Age 5 curriculum to all parents. Participation in the Age 5 curriculum subtly suggests and guides parents to the conclusion that they are, and still should be, actively involved in their children’s education. Enrollment in the Age 5 curriculum increases the likelihood of greater and longer-term gains for the children. Children must have completed Age 4 in order to receive the Age 5 curriculum.

Are the storybooks ever collected back from the families and re-used with other children? No. The storybooks become the property of the children. The parents are requested to read and re-read the books to the HIPPY child as many times as the child desires. For some families, HIPPY introduces literacy into the home. In the event a family drops out before the end of the school year, the storybooks already distributed may be that child’s only path to reading for pleasure.

What roles can a volunteer organization play? Volunteer organizations, such as the National Council of Jewish Women, Junior League and Kiwanis, support HIPPY programs in a variety of ways, depending on local needs and interests. Volunteers often become involved with HIPPY during the initial stages of implementation, frequently serving as catalysts. In existing programs, volunteers often assist with field trips, groups meetings and graduation ceremonies. Volunteers can also help make invaluable program connections: they serve on advisory committees and assist with advocacy, fund raising and public relations.

Has HIPPY worked with Syrian and other Refugees? Canada has generously welcomed more than 40,000 refugees since 2015 and the HIPPY program staff have been there to welcome them. We have found families who are struggling with re-settlement issues relating to post-traumatic stress, language barriers, isolation, and often low first-language literacy. Our goal is to ensure refugee children have the best possible chance of success. Our early research is showing that the HIPPY program is very effective intervention for meeting the diverse and complex needs of the newly arrived refugees.

How many HIPPY sites are there in Canada? How many moms are helped through each site? As of 2023 , the Mothers Matter Centre has 30 multicultural HIPPY sites, 4 Indigenous HIPPY sites and 4 other HIPPY programs (SELF) across the country.

Who benefits from the Mothers Matter Centre’s HIPPY program? Children in the HIPPY program show improved school readiness, school performance, English skills, reading abilities, school behaviour, self-esteem and self-confidence. Mothers in the HIPPY program say they have better relationships with their kids and increased self-confidence. They feel less isolated, have the confidence to be more actively involved in their children’s schools, spend more time with their children to help them learn, and have expanded their social networks. HIPPY Home Visitors often get their first Canadian job experience through HIPPY, after facing multiple employment barriers. Home Visitors receive training, employment skills, and transition support to graduate to other jobs and higher education, following their three-year, work-to-learn position. Once isolated themselves, Home Visitors are now highly-employable who contribute to the economic well-being of their families and communities.

How do we know the HIPPY Program works? HIPPY is recognized internationally as an evidence-based program. Results are summarized with examples of more recent studies that prove each positive outcome: 1) Significant improvement soon after intervention in reading and language skills Brown, A. L., & Lee, J. (2015). Evaluating the efficacy of children participating in Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters and Head Start. Journal of Early Childhood Research, 1476718X15577006., math skills Van Tuijl, C., & Leseman, P. P. M. (2004). Improving mother-child interaction in low-income Turkish-Dutch families: A study of mechanisms mediating improvements resulting from participating in a home-based preschool intervention program. Infant and Child Development, 13(4), 323–340., and relations with peers [note]Barnett, T., Roost, F. D., & McEachran, J. (2012). Evaluating the effectiveness of the home interaction program for parents and youngsters (HIPPY). Family Matters, 91(1), 27–37. 2) Long-term, higher rates of school attendance [note]Brown, A. L. (2013). The impact of early intervention on the school readiness of children born to teenage mothers. Journal of Early Childhood Research, 13(2), 181–195., college attendance Kagitcibasi, C., Sunar, D., Bekman, S., Baydar, N., & Cemalcilar, Z. (2009). Continuing effects of early enrichment in adult life: The Turkish Early Enrichment Project 22 years later. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 30(6), 764–779., transference of program benefits to younger siblings Chatterji, S. (2014). The Long-Term Effect of the Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY) Program on Academic Achievement: Evidence from a School District in Texas, (May). Honors Thesis: Stanford University, and math achievement Nievar, M. A., Jacobson, A., Chen, Q., Johnson, U., & Dier, S. (2011). Impact of HIPPY on home learning environments of Latino families. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 26(3), 268–277. 3) Parents demonstrate improvement in the parent-child relationship Palladino, D.K. Evaluation of the 2014-15 Home. Instruction for Parents of Preschool. Youngsters (HIPPY) Program. Department of Evaluation and Assessment. Dallas Independent School District, in their relations with the school, with other family members and the community Johnson, U. Y., Martinez-Cantu, V., Jacobson, A. L., & Weir, C.-M. (2012). The Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters Program’s Relationship with Mother and School Outcomes. Early Education & Development, 23(5), 713–727, and in parents’ self-esteem, knowledge, and confidence in their parenting skills Necoechea, D. M. (2007). Children at-risk for poor school readiness: The effect of an early intervention home visiting program on children and parents. Dissertation Abstracts International Section A: Humanities and Social Sciences. 4) When compared to non-HIPPY parents, after two years in the program HIPPY Parents were more likely than non-participants Prairie Research Associates (PRA) Inc. (2015) Evaluation of the Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY) Program. HIPPY Canada. October 14: -to rely on employment income -less likely to rely on savings -less likely to rely on government support. HIPPY USA is featured in the Social Impact Exchange and the S&I 100 (an index of the 100 top U.S. non-profit organizations creating social impact). Following research correlating the program with positive child and parent outcomes, the New Zealand and Australian governments recently funded major expansions of the HIPPY model.

What difference do programs like HIPPY make in society? It has been estimated that $1 invested in the early years of a child’s life can save up to $9 in future spending in the healthcare system. By raising literacy scores by 1% in Canada, Canada’s national economic productivity is expected to increase by 2.5% or $18 billion per year. Three studies solidify outcomes resulting from early-childhood intervention with at risk children that included free early childhood education services of varying intensity, often coupled with parental services. [note]Chicago Child-Parent Centers (CPC), Abecedarian program, and Perry Preschool Study. Multiple benefits were noted from these studies including: -increases in IQ -decreased enrollment in Special Education -higher high school graduation rates -less dependency on welfare -lower rates of teen pregnancy -higher marriage rates -marked declines in crime -improved longitudinal literacy and math performance -and reduced incidences of child abuse. From a purely economic standpoint (based on analysis of the Perry Preschool Study), the annual rate of return for each Perry participant is four percent, for society at large this rate is 12 percent, leading to a total annual rate of return of 16 percent.

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