Q. What is HIPPY?
A. The Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY), formerly Home Instruction Program for Preschool Youngsters, is a home-based, early intervention program that helps parents create experiences for their children that lay the foundation for success in school and later life. The program is designed specifically for those parents who may not feel confident in their own abilities to teach their children. In the United States, HIPPY is a two or three year program for parents with children ages three, four and five.
Every other week home visitors, who are also participants in the program, make home visits to role play HIPPY activities with parents. On alternating weeks, group meetings are held. During group meetings, home visitors and parents role play the week's activities and an enrichment activity is offered, including issues of parenting and family life and often addressing parents' interests in improving their own situation through further education and training. Parents spend approximately 15-20 minutes a day, five days a week, doing HIPPY activities with their children.
Q. How does the curriculum work?
A. HIPPY activities are written in a structured format comparable to a well-designed lesson plan for a novice teacher. The purpose of the structure is to assure that activities will be easy and fun for parents to implement and to create a successful learning experience between the parent and child. The curriculum is primarily cognitively-based, focusing on language development, problem solving and discrimination skills. Learning and play mingle throughout HIPPY activities, as parents help children build school readiness skills. HIPPY utilizes role playing as the method of instruction when training home visitors and parents. Role playing promotes a comfortable learning environment in which there is always room for mistakes. In addition to maximizing parent's understanding and facility in doing the activities, it promotes parental empathy for the developmental capabilities of young children.
Q. What are the staffing requirements?
A. Each program has one full-time, professional coordinator who is responsible for all aspects of program implementation and management. This includes recruitment, training and supervision of home visitors, administrative tasks, working with the advisory committee and fund raising. Coordinators have backgrounds in early childhood education, elementary education, adult education, social work and community development. Home visitors, who are members of the participating communities and themselves parents in the program, conduct the home visits. They work part-time with 10- 15 children. Becoming a home visitor is often a first job and a first step out of dependency.
Q. Where is HIPPY implemented?
A. HIPPY is one discrete component of a comprehensive approach to supporting families. As such HIPPY is operated within the context of larger organizations that offer an array of services for families. Successful HIPPY settings include schools, public housing, family support centers and community-based agencies.
Q. What does HIPPY cost?
A. Costs are approximately $1500-$2000 per child, per year over two years. This is based on an average program size of 60 children in the first year and 120 children in the second year, a full-time coordinator and one home visitor for 12 families. Costs include staff salaries (the largest and most variable component); curriculum materials; fees for training and technical assistance, program development, and license and affiliation; and other direct costs.
Q. How are HIPPY programs funded?
A. While funding is frequently the greatest obstacle to starting and maintaining a HIPPY program, programs around the country have been successful in securing support from public and private sources at local, state and national levels. Funding has been provided through early childhood education initiatives including Title I (Chapter 1), Even Start, Head Start, job training programs (particularly JTPA), public housing initiatives, a myriad of prevention and early intervention programs (such as child abuse prevention, teen pregnancy prevention, and crime prevention) and foundations, businesses and civic organizations.
Q. Is there research on HIPPY?
A. Extensive research in Israel, HIPPY's country of origin, indicates that HIPPY benefits children by improving academic achievement and adjustment to school, reducing the need for children to repeat grades and increasing the rate of school completion. Positive impacts on parents include increases in involvement in their children's education, higher self-esteem and further education for themselves. The first systematic evaluation of HIPPY in the United States, funded by the U.S. Department of Education,was conducted by the NCJW Center for the Child. Preliminary findings of first grade teacher ratings suggest that participation in HIPPY may have a positive effect on children's classroom adaptation, an important component of school success (Baker and Piotrkowski, 1993). Other United States research includes several case studies that focus on implementation.
Q. How do I get started?
A. The development of a HIPPY program combines strong grassroots community collaboration, securing funding and ongoing dialogue with HIPPY USA. The HIPPY USA Start-Up Manual provides a step-by-step guide to beginning a program. It includes information on conducting a community needs assessment, developing and convening an advisory group, submitting an application, preparing a budget and hiring staff. HIPPY USA's Guide to Fund Raising describes potential funding sources and provides "cut and paste" proposal elements. A variety of outreach and public relations materials are also available.