Saturday, October 28, 2006

One step closer

(The Texas HIPPY Team, August 2006 Coordinator Retreat)

This week I learned that our concept paper for 3 more years of AmeriCorps funding was approved and we have been invited to submit a full proposal. I'm not sure how many people were turned down, but it's a good feeling to know we have a chance. Next week we'll receive the full instructions and application and begin working on it.

It's always a busy time to add this monumental task, but this is as good a time as any. Most of the begining of the year training has already happened and the year is well underway. We'll also be applying for money to other funding sources because if we don't we'll have to close our doors!

In all my years in education, going on 20, I've always operated on "soft monies" ie. specific grants that could and do disappear. When the grant is over, your services are no longer needed, you don't have a job, the program is over!! That's never happened to me, there have always been other sources of funding that came in, but nevertheless there's always a scary moment when you are very unsure about your future and the future of everything you have built. I'm there right now.

I think the important thing is not to let that immobilize you. My focus is not only to get the AmeriCorps funding but other, additional money so that we can grow and expand. That's why having the new program in Laredo is so exciting and affirming. Knowing that we can continue to grow and to make an ever increasing difference. So, with the end of our 3 year grant cycle, I'm focusing on being one step closer to growth, not closure.

Wish us luck!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Changes at HIPPY USA

Today I learned that the Board of Trustees at HIPPY USA has decided to move the national office from New York City to Little Rock Arkansas! Elisabet's resignation, taking effect in September, was the begining of major changes. I am relieved that a decision has been made and we can move forward. The sad thing is that there are many staff members who will probably decide to not make the move because of their ties to NY.

I have no doubt that in the long run the national network will greatly benefit from the resources and support available from Arkansas Children's Hospital where HIPPY USA will be located. I'm sure we will all have to be flexible and creative in the interim as the transition happens. There are so many things that are always in process that will be affected: new program development, national conference planning, support to local programs, contracts, MIS questions, etc.

My hope is that this move will bring a new era of revitalization, growth and success to HIPPY.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

How much more convincing do we have to be?

I've been working on the Case Statement today, that means reading through reams of studies, cost-benefit analyses, research summaries. It's so overwhelmingly clear that involving parents of young children in specific and intense school readiness activities makes a huge difference. A difference that lasts and that saves society money and heartache. I feel happy and sad, vindicated and defeated, optimistic and exhausted...The good thing is that the evidence is so clear and compelling. I am having no problem whatsoever finding research and data to support HIPPY.

For example:

  • Poverty in Texas increased from 42% in 2000 to 56% in 2005
  • Preschool services for 3 year olds in Texas went down by 24% last year, with only 4.1% of children served, and only 46% of 4 year olds served
  • Cost of Pre-K in Texas is $2,707 per child
  • Cost of HIPPY in Texas is $1,050 per child
  • 66% of children were deemed "ready for school" according to Kindergarten Teachers
  • 93% of HIPPY children were rated "Ready for School" in terms of Classroom Behavior, by their Kindergarten Teachers
  • 90% of HIPPY children were rated "Ready for School" in terms of their Classroom Adaptability, by their Kindergarten Teachers
What's exhausting is that even though the evidence is there, the support still needs to be built. Oh well, making a difference, however I can....

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Trainer's Retreat

I just finished attending 3 days of meeting and training with the State Directors and HIPPY USA National Trainers. Wow! It's always so much fun to reconnect with this group of wonderful, wild and wise women (and one man, don't think I forgot you Dabaram!) who have and continue to make a difference! Change is inevitable and there are lots of them coming up! We have an interim Executive Director, Sandee Bennett, and the board is looking for a permanent executive director and mapping out the future of our organization. More than ever there are lots of questions, lots of unknowns, and many ideas of what could/should be done!

We got a lot done, although we didn't reach consensus (how could we with so many opinionated and strong personalities, myself included!). We did ALL AGREE that the only way the new process for the SAVI and Adaptations will work is if we respect each other's committment and professional judgement, go in with an open mind and communicate with each other about visits. (At least, that's what I came away with...) I really like how the three days ended, with many of us giving testimonials on our committment to HIPPY, to the national office, and wanting to do more to help and support HIPPY become stronger than ever.