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HIPPY – Meeting the Needs of Already Isolated Families During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The new lifestyle that COVID-19 has imposed on many families across the globe – one of isolation and limited social interaction – gives us an opportunity to reflect on the tens of thousands of vulnerable mothers and families who already live in isolation in our country. Their reasons might be different – language and cultural barriers rather than health precautions – but there is a shared feeling of anxiety and instability.

The Impact of Social Distancing on HIPPY Families

At the Mothers Matter Centre, we know that isolation takes a toll on families and the isolation precautions have escalated the necessity for human-centred connections and tactical support services between already isolated mothers and their families and HIPPY Home Visitors. While many of our lives have been impacted by the changing public health guidelines, the impact on the lives of some HIPPY families can be more pronounced and has led to added vulnerabilities including concerns for food security, lack of access to information, and overall mental health and wellbeing. Without the continuation of support in critical time like this, some may face added challenges as they navigate the pandemic, particularly for newly settled families. 

Virtual HIPPY – Our Response to the Pandemic

Recognizing the urgent need to sustain contact and support HIPPY families,  the Mothers Matter Centre and HIPPY staff around the country have responded with a creative suite of materials. This includes hard and virtual copies of the parent child curriculum, instructional tools, tutorials on virtual home visiting, and extension parent-child activities (‘Stay ‘N’ Play Series’). The Mothers Matter Centre has provided several options to ensure that Home Visitors have the flexibility to respond to unique family situations regarding access to technology, literacy, and home situations. To access the Stay ‘N’ Play series, please click here.

The Approach

Our approach to delivering Virtual HIPPY has several core features designed to ensure its success.

→ Home Visitors maintain weekly check-ins with families;

→ Ensure Home Visitors have access to critical  information about emergency government and local aids to support to families;

→ Home Visitors receive training in using a variety of conferencing platforms including Zoom, Google Hangouts, and WhatsApp;

→ The parent-child curriculum is distributed using a number of different formats, including a) delivering hard copies prior to pandemic distancing regulations; b) providing access to weekly packages online; c) mailing activity packages directly to families’ homes where preferred; d) publisher of HIPPY books, Groundwood Books, releasing all of the HIPPY books in PDF version; and e) developing HIPPY ‘Biteables’  for families for whom the other delivery modes remain inaccessible. HIPPY Biteables are single, easy-to-follow activities that can be sent out on a daily basis to families through text.

Way Forward

As countries around the world continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, the Mothers Matter Centre remains committed to innovating solutions that ensure the most vulnerable communities in Canada receive the support and resources necessary to maintain the wellbeing and health of their families. 

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