Multicultural HIPPY in Canada

Many immigrants and refugees face several structural obstacles including language and cultural barriers, low levels of literacy, racism, professional accreditation issues, and limited awareness of various democratic processes and societal practices. This result in many of them living in isolation.

The Multicultural HIPPY Program was primarily developed to support the mother as the first and most important teacher of her child. The program supports mainly newcomer and refugee mothers as well as low-income mothers and encourages them to be fully involved in their communities. The HIPPY program hires current and past mothers in the program as Home Visitors. This of course has benefitted a lot of Home Visitors who report that this was their first job in Canada.

The HIPPY program has served over 10,000 families over the last 16 years, starting with one site in Vancouver, BC, there are now 17 sites in 6 provinces. The program is offered across Canada mostly by immigrant/refugee serving organizations.



A Canadian society, where once isolated immigrant and refugee women and their children, are now in the position to live full and productive lives.



To build a stronger and more competitive Canada by reaching out to isolated (newcomer and refugee, and other at-risk) mothers and provide them with three-year work-learn jobs, essential skills training to facilitate their transition to and success in the workforce, develop their capacity to support their children’s success in school and build bridges to social networks and organizations that facilitate full and active inclusion and engagement in Canadian society.


Principles and Values

  • Mothers can teach other mothers, thus employing mothers as Home Visitors
  • Mothers can teach their children – mothers spend 15 -20 mins. a day teaching the HIPPY materials to their children and they are empowered to view themselves as the first and best teachers of their children
  • All children can learn – HIPPY prepares children to enter school ready to succeed
  • Improving the early school experiences among children from educationally and economically disadvantaged backgrounds and encouraging educational interaction between mothers and their children
  • Creating an educational environment in the home that encourages literacy and supports the child throughout her educational life
  • Fostering parental involvement in school and community life, thus breaking through the social isolation of mothers
  • Helping Home Visitors develop skills and work experience needed to compete successfully for other jobs in local labour markets.
  • Establishing collaborative partnerships with other human service organizations in order to ensure optimal service delivery for participating families.
  • Families are healthier when they are connected to the community and other parents


The Need for Multicultural HIPPY

The HIPPY program addresses many issues that immigrants and refugees confront in their new country. These include language and cultural barriers, low levels of literacy, racism, professional accreditation issues, and limited awareness of various democratic processes and societal practices. This result in many of them living in isolation.

Home visitors that are hired to work with these newly arrived mothers are from same newcomer/refugee general peer community (i.e., other low-income immigrants and refugees) reach out to them in their own homes with practical information and structured lessons that enable the newcomers to gain confidence in their own capacity to help prepare their children for entering school with the skills they need to succeed. HIPPY provides newcomers with information that helps reduce language and cultural barriers (largely, but not exclusively related to education), helps inform participants of other services in the community, raises awareness of “how things work” in Canada (again, with a particular emphasis on school), and encourages newcomers to actively participate in the community and in the school. HIPPY also provides many newcomers with their first Canadian work experience, and as a result of participating in the program, many HIPPY parents report that they have decided to go to school themselves to achieve literacy or career goals (in a study of the impact of HIPPY in New Zealand).


How HIPPY Works

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;
  • Recognizes role-play as an important method of teaching the skills needed to

implement the child-centred curriculum;

  • Features a peer home visitor system that enables mothers, who may be hard to

reach due to social isolation, poverty, language, or other cultural issues, to feel comfortable participating in the program; and

  • Well-trained peer Home Visitors deliver books and 30 weeks of high-quality

curriculum activities directly to parents, who then work 15 to 20 minutes a day with their own three-, four-, and five-year-old children.


Benefits of the Multicultural HIPPY Program

The HIPPY program breaks the cycle of poverty and low-level literacy by providing employment and training to multi-barriered individuals, improves adult literacy, prepares children for school, reduces social isolation and increases parental involvement in school. The model has been tested and demonstrated effective in several countries around the world in a wide variety of settings over a long period of time. The HIPPY program produces results!



Multicultural HIPPY is an evidence-based program that utilizes a performance management system referred to as “Efforts To Outcomes”. This system consists of a framework of tools, processes and training to help Site Coordinators and Home Visitors record and assess their families’ progress, challenges and successes.

Mothers Matter Centre is a high-performance organization committed to a comprehensive performance management process (PMP) that holds itself accountable to its stakeholders, funders and, most important, to the families it serves. We have moved beyond counting outputs. We are all about change – about social impact – about ensuring the lives of the families with whom we work are, in fact, better than before we started working together. This tool gives Coordinators real-time data they need to adjust programming strategies to better serve their clients. Most important, the performance management approach helps Mothers Matter Centre measure and understand the process of change.

HIPPY Children Demonstrate:

  • Improved academic performance in comparison to similarly situated children with positive outcomes for school readiness, reading ability and school behaviour.
  • Improved school readiness skills, school performance, English skills, self-esteem and self-confidence.

HIPPY Mothers Report:

  • Improved parent-child relationships, greater self-confidence, reduced isolation, and improved opportunities for expanding social networks and social support.
  • Acquisition of skills necessary to work with their children, confidence in their role as their child’s teacher, improved language skills, greater participation in their children’s school, and more time spent with their children on learning activities.

HIPPY Home Visitors Benefit from:

  • Employment (often first-time)
    for mothers who typically experience multiple employment barriers.
  • Workplace training on HIPPY curriculum, community resource network systems, rights and responsibilities of Canadian citizenship, and employment skills.
  • Goal-setting and job-search support to transition Home Visitors to other jobs and / or higher education following their three-year work / learn position.
  • Home Visitors, once isolated mothers, are now highly employable members of society who contribute to the economic well-being of their families and communities.


508-1190 Melville Street Vancouver, BC. Canada