The Working Women Centre of Toronto has the distinguished honour of hosting the oldest and largest site in Canada. In 2003, HIPPY Toronto opened its first site in the Jane and Finch community, a Toronto neighbourhood known for youth violence and troubled schools. After the news got out about the success of that first HIPPY site, it did not take long for Working Women’s entrepreneurial executive director, Marcie Ponte, to secure funding for an additional three sites.
Working Women has continued to sustain its program and innovate others, such as the Young Moms HIPPY program and the Refugee program. They now serve more than 300 families at six sites. Working Women is the home of five HIPPY programs and the AFIP project (Accelerated Family Integration Project) dedicated to refugees in the Toronto regional district.
The HIPPY site for Young Mothers in Toronto has operated since 2013 at the Working Women Community Centre. Three Home Visitors serve young mothers under 29.
The HIPPY Program works because it provides mothers with the tools and confidence to teach their children. We are looking forward to our fourth year as we hire three moms from the program as new Home Visitors. Other young parent service agencies are impressed that we can engage and keep more than 30 young women in the program for 30 weeks. We can – because our Home Visitors and mothers believe in HIPPY and its benefits.
A mother joined the HIPPY for Young Mothers program and finished the age-five curriculum. Thanks to that curriculum, she learned the importance of parent engagement in her child’s school. She has since joined the parent council at her daughter’s school and raised her hand to suggest a tutoring program for parents and children. There is now a tutoring program on site because of this awesome HIPPY mother!
The Thorncliffe / Flemingdon site started providing services in 2005 and now serves more than 100 families. It employs nine HIPPY Home Visitors.
Charmaine’s insight into the HIPPY Program:
I’ve been part of the HIPPY community for the past 12 years and it certainly has changed from when I started – and it is ever-changing. ‘Changing’ may be the wrong word…’Refining’ would be more appropriate. Home Visitors are trained to gather data on all participant efforts every year, and we draw clearer perspectives on how HIPPY positively affects its community.
How do we measure the wonderful bond that is created when families get together for group meetings and field trips, where they feel comfortable to laugh and share their ups and downs, and discovery of new spaces and places? Where they discover a city that was foreign and intimidating is now is a source of belonging? It’s great to be part of the settlement process where success is simply measured by a family opening their door to a HIPPY Home Visitor.
I cannot say enough how much the HIPPY program has changed me and my child. Eva is becoming a book fan in the whole year with HIPPY. At nights, without me reading a story book to her, she will not get to sleep. It strengthens my relationship with my child as a single mom. I was fortunate to enroll into this HIPPY program. It gave me and my child a structured learning guidance and being together time. I can see that my child is so happy with me while following the HIPPY homework. The HIPPY Home Visitor is very nice and always encourages me and helps me when I have any questions. This Program is so great, I am so happy and lucky to find you, your program, and your team. I definitely will want more people to benefit from this.
The HIPPY Downtown West, Francophone and Karen Communities Site in Toronto has operated since September 2008. Six Home Visitors serve 70 newcomers, immigrants and protected refuges
Stefania’s insight into the HIPPY Program:
Stefania uses a specific example of a mother who found that the HIPPY Program positively changed both her and her child’s life.
Jeanett was one of our first HIPPY moms when we started HIPPY in this community nine years ago. She successfully completed all three ages of the program with her autistic son, Alejandro, within almost four years in her own moderate pace, accustomed ways of playing and with the caring support from her Home Visitor and Coordinator.
Summer 2014, a year and a half after she completed the HIPPY program as a mother, Jeanett walked into the office to ask me if we had an opening for a HIPPY Home Visitor position, as she wanted to apply and give back by helping other moms. Sure enough, we did have an opening that year and I invited her to interview. Jeanett was a successful candidate and became involved with HIPPY again, this time as a HIPPY Home Visitor.
During her time with HIPPY, Jeanett completed an early childhood assistant college diploma. She also found another part-time position in a daycare and worked two part-time jobs for a couple of years. Just a couple of weeks after HIPPY graduation on June 3, 2017, her last day as HIPPY Home Visitor, Jeanett was offered a full-time position in the same daycare where had been working as an early childhood assistant.
When I was a HIPPY mom, I had become very passionate about the HIPPY program and I applied to be a HIPPY Home Visitor. I started to work in the fall of 2014 and today, June 3, 2017, is my last day. I would like to thank all my HIPPY moms for letting me into their homes and into their lives. I bonded with and learned from everyone. I became friends with many and I always will feel close to all. I have learned a lot as a HIPPY mom and as a HIPPY Home Visitor. Thanks to the program, my English, and my personal and my professional skills have improved greatly. I will miss my team of three years: Tina, Yahi, Nancy, Eh paw, Cherry, Patience, Sonia and Yan. I’d like to thank you all for making me each week a better person.
The HIPPY site in the Malvern community in Toronto has operated since 2008 at the Working Women Community Centre. Three Home Visitors serve 42 newcomer and citizen families.
Angela’s insight into the HIPPY Program:
The opportunity to interact and work with young children and adults is an honour. We have learned from each other, and grown.
HIPPY showed me first steps in working life and I’m so happy and proud of myself.
Former Home Visitor and HIPPY Mother