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“Getting the family involved in the educational process is a great opportunity.”

Five new sites are working on rolling out the HIPPY program this fall. All sites have successfully completed the Mothers Matter Centre’s pre-service training. Today, we are introducing our new partner organization Somali Canadian Women and Children Association (SCWCA) in Edmonton. We asked Executive Director Sahra Hashi to share her plans and hopes for their first HIPPY year. 

Tell us about your new HIPPY site.

SCWCA offers different programs that use a holistic approach to service delivery in the areas of settlement and integration, literacy and language, and employment support and bridging programs, to name a few. The HIPPY program in Edmonton will be diverse. SCWCA approaches families in their own languages, such as English, Arabic, Somali, Oromo, and tongues spoken in Eritrea. One central site has been assigned to cover all geographical areas and serve newcomer and refugee families. We hired one Coordinator and four Home Visitors.

How many mothers and children will participate in the first year?

The target number in the first year will be 30 mothers and 60 children aged 3-5 years old.

How has COVID-19 affected the start of the HIPPY program?

Before COVID-19, we planned to meet our HIPPY program clients in person and invite them to our Centre. Like the rest of our educational programs, this won’t be possible, given the current social restrictions and mitigation measures. Therefore, the program will be delivered online. SCWCA intends to provide tablets, software, and other communication means to families to ensure smooth communication and teaching. Group meetings with families will be carried out online until otherwise recommended by Alberta Health.

How will the HIPPY program benefit the families you are working with?

Most newcomer and refugee families do not send their children to early childhood development programs. Instead, they keep them at home until they start grade one. Assuming that there is no more powerful education institution than the family, getting the family involved in the educational process is an empowering opportunity for families. HIPPY prepares parents for educational activities with their children and gives mothers the skills they need to be successful teachers. Role-play adopted in HIPPY is an efficient teaching methodology.

What are you looking forward to?

We’re excited that mothers can use the curriculum most suited to their child’s developmental needs without the stigma associated with using a lower age group. Mothers will be able to see themselves as successful teachers by adopting efficient methodologies. They will get to know the Canadian educational system and pre-school preparation curriculum and requirements. Lastly, newcomer and refugee mothers can get involved in Canadian society and prepare to enter the job market.

Anything else you would like to add?

SCWCA will address any problems that targeted families may bring to the table during group meetings. We have the resources to tackle these barriers through other SCWCA and partner programs.

Thank you for your time, and welcome to the HIPPY family!


The Mothers Matter Centre is the national licensing and monitoring body for all HIPPY sites in Canada. It ensures that all program staff are provided with the monitoring and support, professional education training (in a train-the-trainer format), and performance management processes that contribute to better operations, service, and outcomes for HIPPY participants.

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