HIPPY Meets the Needs
The HIPPY program addresses many of these issues: home visitors from the newcomers general peer community (i.e., other low-income immigrants) 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).
We believe that the process of integration is a slow and iterative; it requires a careful systematic consistent approach. It is our experience that attempts to shortcut a process of social and cultural adjustment particularly for families living on low-income, reach less than desirable results. Rather, meaningful inclusion requires us to address its complex, multifaceted nature through a more holistic process. The HIPPY program provides that. The program itself is three years, working with families who have three, four and five year old children. We consistently work with the families for thirty weeks for each of those three years. In one package, HIPPY is providing employment for new comers, developing parental agency, breaking social isolation and supporting parents to support their child’s inclusion.
The activities described in this proposal directly support HIPPY Canada’s mandate to support Canadian families, otherwise thought to be at risk (in this case low-income newcomers) to reach their fullest potential. Together the proposed activities comprise the HIPPY program’s existing programmatic structure – the recruitment of isolated, low-income, newcomer families to participate in the program, the home visits by someone from their peer community as a strategy to reach out to these families, the group meetings as a means to increase social inclusion, the employment of newcomer parents in the program as home visitors, the provision of a parent-led preschool curriculum to improve the success of their children in schools and the training of parents to develop the skills needed to guide their children through the curriculum and prepare them to start school successfully.