From the Field: HIPPY’s Firsthand Impact
Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY) is so much more than a program that delivers preschool curriculum to mothers. It meets the varying needs of mothers who have been socially and economically excluded by providing access to social services and resources, a community for women to share their experiences and support one another, and opportunities for mothers to enhance their English language skills, develop professionally, and even find employment.
No one can describe the benefits of HIPPY better than those who deliver the program. We recently heard from Richa, a Manger at the HIPPY program offered at Immigrant Services Society of B.C. (ISSofBC). Her thoughtful words do an excellent job of describing the impact that HIPPY has on families.
In Her Own Words
I recently attended a community forum with newcomer women, and I wanted to share some of my observations and thoughts with you.
The thoughts that were shared in the space made me think of how well the HIPPY program addresses the challenges many of the parents, particularly mothers, face during their settlement journey… beyond child development and literacy. The impact can be seen not just in mothers and HIPPY children, but in all family members including fathers, other children and at times, even the in-laws.
One of the challenges that was identified during the community forum was the need for spaces for newcomer women to connect with one another, and to share resources. I feel that the HIPPY group meeting does a great job of creating this space where our HIPPY moms connect with another, share resources and parenting tips – and help one another. We have seen instances where some of the HIPPY moms took the leadership roles in helping other moms take public transportation, attend appointments, or to get to know their communities in general. Some HIPPY moms also support one another with childminding when needed, so they do not miss urgent medical and non-medical appointments.
I have observed incredible changes in HIPPY moms, particularly concerning their confidence and comfort level with communicating in English over time. For example, a mom was not able to even say hi to me in the beginning of the HIPPY program is now comfortable communicating with me using various tools including some English words, sign language and lots of laughter. This change in HIPPY moms are often reflected in her family – and we are seeing more and more HIPPY families accessing support through the Surrey office. It has become somewhat of a community space for our families!
HIPPY home visitors truly play a vital role in the dissemination of settlement related information, referrals and making key connections for truly isolated families. This addresses another challenge newcomer women face – that for mothers, it is very challenging to go out and access resources. For mothers who have multiple children, getting to a settlement office through public transit can be quite taxing. By bringing the settlement information directly to her, we can lesson her isolation and provide her with the ability to support her family even better.
During home visits, our home visitors do an incredible job of assessing not just the need of mom and HIPPY child, but of everyone in the family. For example, we have seen an increased need for youth programming and have made efforts in connecting to appropriate youth-related resources within the Lower Mainland. This helps us create responsive approach to service and provide truly holistic care to our families.
This year, we had 3 HIPPY moms who joined our team as HIPPY home visitors. I am always amazed at how empathetic and passionate they are about supporting families as peers and as support person. It has been an absolute honour to witness the progress each HIPPY team member has made – and how this program has been an integral part of their settlement journey as well.
Thank you for giving me an opportunity to grow and learn from such an extraordinary team
Thank-you Richa for the incredible work you and the Home Visitors do to deliver the HIPPY program and support women in your community!
ISSofBC has three of the 18 sites sites offering the Multicultural HIPPY program to low-income, newcomer, and refugee mothers. Learn more about Multicultural HIPPY.