Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Holiday Blessings

Everyone is accounted for
Originally uploaded by hippyprogram
This year for the first time, we were able to organize a drive to sponsor Christmas for 2 HIPPY families in great need. Both the Center for Non Profit Management and the tenants of the Meadows Executive Suites stepped up and generously fulfilled wishlists and donated money for gift cards to our two families in need. Both families were so appreciative and grateful to the generosity of strangers. Issa, pictured here, said "Now we can put a tree up. We have something to put under it." One of the donors mentioned to me "My daughter and I spent more time on that purchase than any other gift we bought this year...because we knew it would mean so much to that 11 year old little girl." This is a season of making lists, pressured purchases and overwhelming days. And yet, for too many parents, it's another in a series of disappointments and reminders that they cannot provide their children with that fairy tale holiday moment. While we adults can face "anything", there's nothing so hurtful as the disappointment of a child. As we head into 2010, I wish everyone the best in health, wealth, happiness and the ability to step back, give back and count our blessings!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Growing and Changing

When my daughter was 4 years old one time I told her "I thought you didn't like broccoli" and she answered "Mama, I'm growing and changing"! So adorable! Well sometimes it seems like we adults don't grow and change so much, but it's not true! Last year we developed an instrument to measure the growth and changes in our home visitors over their year of service with us. It's called the "Know and Grow Checklist" and it measures how comfortable they feel with various skills and knowledge at the begining, middle and end of the program year. A few posts ago I shared their gains in the areas of organizational skills and flexibility. Another area of gains was in Communication, such an important skill in any job and even moreso in HIPPY where home visitors work with a group of families with unique interests, needs, challenges and personalities. We found that at the begining of the year, only 31% of our home visitors strongly agreed that they felt comfortable effectively communicating with others, by the end of year 44% feel strongly competent in communication.

PIC: a home visitor (r) and parent (l) in Houston, 2008-2009 program year

Monday, December 07, 2009

Barnes and Noble Event

Shop for a Cause! Get your holiday shopping done and help support HIPPY all at once!

Texas HIPPY will be hosting a winter fundraising event on December 10, 2009 at the Lincoln Park Barnes & Noble in Dallas, TX. Get a jump on your Christmas shopping at Barnes & Noble, all you have to do is present this voucher


OR mention HIPPY when you make your purchase on this Thursday, December 10th at ANY Barnes & Noble store across the country! The proceeds of the fundraiser will go towards new teaching materials and program expansion to reach even more families in Dallas. The fundraiser will include winter arts and crafts, a treasure hunt, storytime with acclaimed children's book author, Janie Bynum and live music.

11:00am – Preschool Storytime

5:00pm – Meet children’s author, Janie Bynum, author of Kiki’s Blankie

7:00pm – Holiday Storytime

Join us!!!

Thursday, December 03, 2009


We're so thankful to the staff of the Center for Nonprofit Management(http://cnmdallas.org/) who generously sponsored a HIPPY family for the holidays. When they heard the plight of Alma G and her husband, they went all out and purchased gifts for the children, glasses, gift certificates for a grocery store and collected gently used clothing for all the family members. You see, Alma G. and her husband (Ernesto Sr.) have three children who are 2, 4, and 8 years old. The 4-year old, Ernesto Jr., has respiratory problems which causes him to use a breathing machine. Ernesto Sr. just lost his job and Alma is unable to work due to her own health problems (Alma is often very sick with a blood disease called sarcoidosis). The clinic where she used to receive medical treatment has recently stopped filling her medication due to the family’s inability to pay. The family has one car but it is up for sale. The 8 year old daughter, Ruby, needs glasses but Alma and her husband cannot afford them. The family lives in a mobile home that is behind in rent and have been threatened with eviction. At times, the nearby neighbors assist the family with food and rent when possible.

Thanks CNM Staff! Your generosity made a big difference in the holidays for a family who needed us!

PIC: CNM staff with their generous contribution

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Organizational Skills

One of the most exciting aspects of HIPPY has been to witness the professional growth and development of our home visitors. Part of our model is to recruit home visitors from the alumni, current parents and from the general population of the communities that we serve. HIPPY parents often make the most effective and dedicated home visitors because of their first hand knowledge of how HIPPY affected their own lives. It's quite a leap to jump from being participating parent to becoming a home visitor who works with 15 other parents. Our policy is to bring on home visitors, provide them professional development, support and training and then counsel them into other positions in the field of their choice. Many of them want to become educators, social workers and other helping professionals. Our challenge has been to capture their professional growth so we can better tell that story. Last year we piloted a "Know and Grow" checklist to measure how our home visitors grew over the course of the year with us. The area in which our home visitors grew the most was ORGANIZATIONAL SKILLS/FLEXIBILITY: "Meeting deadlines, maintaining schedules, and adapting to change". At the begining of the year 42% strongly agreed that they felt comfortable in this area; this grew to 69% by the end of the year. For many of our home visitors, HIPPY is their first "job" and this shows that they are learning some valuable skills and gaining confidence in an area that will help them in their future work.

pic: Dallas HIPPY Home Visitors during weekly training, 2008-2009 school year.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Stay at Home Moms Data

Mommy wars? Seems that's missing the point. A recent report shows that stay at moms are "disporportionately low-income, less educated and often immigrant". Our current Early Childhood Education policies disproportionately focus on providing center based services to increase preschool services to children who need it the most. These efforts miss the opportunity to provide services to young children whose parents stay home and who still need school readiness. these findings also have implications for early childhood policy, where debates tend to focus on improving access to quality child care and preschool programs for disadvantaged youngsters. This data tells us that stay-at-home mothers disproportionately include women who do not have the educational background or resources that allow better-off parents to provide more robust learning experiences for their children. If that's the case, then policymakers may need to supplement efforts to improve child care with strategies that help that subset of stay-at-home moms support their children’s early development.

View the original report: http://www.census.gov/population/www/socdemo/hh-fam/p20-561.pdf

Read a policy summary from Ed Watch: http://www.newamerica.net/blog/early-ed-watch/2009/closer-look-stay-home-moms-15067
pic: a HIPPY parent reading to her child during a literacy event hosted by HIPPY Texas and Earning by Learning.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Health Bill Includes Home Visitation

US senate
Originally uploaded by Bo Gr├╝nberger
The US Senate Finance Committee released the legislative language on the Healthcare Reform Bill - a whopping 1,502 pages! They call it "America's Healthy Future Act of 2009". The purpose is "To provide affordable, quality health care for all Americans and reduce the growth in health care spending, and for other purposes." Deeply embedded in there (Section 1801, pp 453-480) is a section on home visitation, I guess that's one of the "other purposes" referred to. You can imagine the excitement in the field of home visitation that there might be some resources finally put into our work. However!... the fact that we're looped into such a contentious bill is a little nervewracking. Anyway, here's the overview of what they wanting to do about home visitation programs:

15 ‘‘(a) PURPOSES.—The purposes of this section are—
16 ‘‘(1) to strengthen and improve the programs
17 and activities carried out under this title;
18 ‘‘(2) to improve coordination of services for at
19 risk communities; and
20 ‘‘(3) to identify and provide comprehensive
21 services to improve outcomes for families who reside
22 in at risk communities.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Sky Ranch

Sky Ranch
Originally uploaded by hippyprogram
It's almost time again! It was only a few short months ago that the HIPPY Coordinators met for 2 days of training and networking at Sky Ranch in Van TX. It's almost time for us to get all our home visitors together for our annual Kick Off. This gives us an opportunity to work as a statewide team and provide training and support for our home visitors. Pray for nice, dry weather for our 70+ participants next Thursday and Friday. I'll keep you posted on how it goes.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Corpus Christi HIPPY!

We're so pleased to have another new HIPPY site starting up this fall! Corpus Christi HIPPY is being implemented by the Holy Family Catholic School. New coordinator, Teresa Koehler, went to preservice this summer and hit the ground running. According to Teresa, "The preservice training helped me to understand how the HIPPY model works and gave me the self-confidence to implement it at our school."
She's now back in Corpus starting up HIPPY as a pilot with 2 home visitors (AmeriCorps members) each serving about 15 families. Corpus Christi HIPPY is a collaboration between the Diocese of Corpus Christi and Corpus Christi Independent School District. Title I funding will be provided by CCISD to implement the program at Holy Family Catholic School. Says Teresa, "It is my hope that the parents will learn skills that will give them self-confidence and self esteem." Within the next 4 weeks a HIPPY USA trainer will come onsite to provide Teresa and her team with an orientation site visit and get them started!

(Holy Family Church, Corpus Christi TX pictured above)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

My Civic Duty

Recently I was called to Jury Duty for the Federal Court. Even though these things are never convenient it was an interesting experience when I got selected as a juror. The alleged crime took place in my neighborhood and several derogatory remarks were made by police and attorneys about my neighborhood of "Oak Cliff" Texas, which I totally did not appreciate! It reminded me that that the neighborhoods we generally serve in HIPPY are saturated with negative self images and stereotypes that are perpetuated both by those within and outside of the community. What's it like for a child growing up hearing that their neighborhood is "the bad side of town", and their school is "a bad school"? How does that affect their own self image and their hopes and dreams? Yes, we hear a lot about the kids that break out of their humble roots. What are we supposed to do with those who don't, those who stay in the neighborhood and raise children of their own there? We have a responsability to all children, those who stay and those who go. One of the strengths of HIPPY is that it builds upon the leadership and positive aspects of every neighborhood and every school. That's something that will make lasting change from the inside.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Curriculum Crosswalk

HIPPY curriculum used in a home visit in Houston

This semester we are lucky to have a wonderful intern, Jamesia Johnson, who is taking on an important and difficult task for us. The TEA (Texas Education Agency) changed the PK curriculum guidelines last school year and we need to measure how the HIPPY 4 year old curriculum stacks up to these new standards. Jamesia is taking on the meticulous job of cross checking each of the skills developed in HIPPY with the skills outlined by TEA for preschoolers. TEA has identified 9 learning domains, the first of which is the Social and Emotional Development Domain. There are 21 learning goals in this domain. The first is for the child to be"aware of where own body is in space and respects personal boundaries". How does HIPPY address this? Children are given the opportunity to practice these skills 139 times in Age 3 and 136 times in Age 4. Some of the ways they practice these skills are:
  • Identifies & names body parts & their functions
  • Moves body according to directions given
  • Uses the body & senses to explore their environment
  • Discriminates between a variety of sights, sounds, textures, smells, & tastes

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Helen is Helping!

Thank you so much again to AARP for bringing us a wonderful opportunity, in the person of Helen H. She is our AARP volunteer and is such a thoughtful and hard working addition to our team. As we can all get quite noisy here in this little office, Helen's quiet and dedicated work ethic has had a calming influence. Thanks Helen!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Mentor Connect

Two of my former home instructors, Zulema on the left (me in the middle) and Cecilia on the right, they are now full time early childhood educators with the family literacy project

At the end of May we held a HIPPY Transition Fair to introduce our HIPPY Home Visitors / AmeriCorps Members to a variety of career opportunities. Members had an opportunity to meet with representatives from a variety of careers, as well as brush up on their interviewing skills and get feedback on their resumes. We also inaugurated the HIPPY Mentor Connect program. The purpose of Mentor Connect is to ensure that members successfully transition from their position as Home Instructor into college and a successful career.

HIPPY Mentor Connect is an informally structured program focused on connecting HIPPY home instructors or alumni with individual mentors that can add insight and guidance as home instructors/alumni strive to reach their education and career goals. Recognizing that one of the primary factors toward achieving success is access to information, HIPPY Mentor Connect will assist HIPPY home instructors in their personal and professional development by providing a valuable resource to bridge the gap. HIPPY Mentor Connect volunteers will serve as a support and resource for HIPPY Home Instructors/Alumni. Each mentor will be assigned a home instructor with aspirations of joining the mentor’s career field. The mentor will assist the home instructor navigate toward reaching their professional goals by offering their expertise of the field and providing the home instructor with guidance, advice, and support as needed. Each mentor will commit to assisting in the personal and professional development of a home instructor. The primary way that a mentor will keep their commitment is by making themselves accessible to their mentee via phone, e-mail, etc. HIPPY Mentor Connect will host two formal events. Other relationship development will be conducted via the mentor relationship at the leisure of the mentor and the mentee.

Are you ready to connect?

Friday, August 28, 2009

Parenting Education is Economic Development

Sibling of a HIPPY child at a family meeting in Dallas

"The impact of good parenting goes far beyond its influence on individual children." according to a June 2009 report from the Partnership for America's Economic Success. We all know that our economy is in a slump and HOPE that it is bouncing back. Faced with doom and gloom predictions and conflicting advice from economists, what can one person do? Well, parenting or supporting parent education is something we can all do! Research irrefutably demonstrates that children whose parents interact with them positively from birth onwards develop into more successful students, adults and ultimately parents themselves. The report identifies HIPPY as one of 10 programs that can "sharply increase the odds of healthy social, behavioral and cognitive development, helping them become the engaged citizens and productive workers our country needs." Who said we work in the "non-profit" arena? What better profit could there be?

Check out the full report: http://www.partnershipforsuccess.org/uploads/20090708_PAESParentingBriefFinal.pdf

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Social Networking

My "real" friend Sophana Kim and I, we met the old fashioned way, at work 20 years ago

I recently joined Facebook--will you be my friend? So far we people can join our group (HIPPY Texas) and donate to our cause (School Readiness and Parent Involvment). There's something vaguely strange about the mish mash of information I learn everyday about such a vast spectrum of friends, family, co-workers and contacts! For example, I learn when my friend Lisa Markley will be playing live at a local venue, and then learn what the AmeriCorps Alums are up to, followed by my colleague's post on a quiz she took which rates how latino she is (47% which is surprising since she's Mexican). I'm going to hang in there for a while and see if I can figure this thing out. I'm still holding out on twitter, linked in, myspace...by the time I figure facebook out, something else will be taking over! Meanwhile, I'll see you on Facebook...

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Dallas HIPPY Spotlight

Dallas HIPPY Team 2008-2009

Last year I was asked by HIPPY USA to serve as the external monitor visiting Dallas HIPPY. Usually other HIPPY USA trainers are brought in to evaluate Texas sites, but I quickly agreed because I felt it was an opportunity to provide in depth technical assistance to our original Texas HIPPY site and work in my home turf. Each site is assigned a national trainer for a 2-3 year cycle, and last year our “visit” began with an assessment of program strengths and challenges and identification of areas in which staff wanted technical assistance and support. We developed a plan together and this year I have followed up with in depth observations of home visits, a file review and observation of parent group meetings to see how the plan has been implemented. As I zoomed around town from one home visit and school to another I was suddenly reminded that this little corner of the world is abuzz with HIPPY! Right in the neighborhood where I live (Oak Cliff) there are several “HIPPY Schools”. Indeed, this is one of our challenges; HIPPY can often seem invisible because it’s happening in the privacy of family homes and in remote corners of school campuses. On my first home visit, the parent recognized me from 20 years ago when she was first in HIPPY with her oldest son and I was the HIPPY coordinator! She said that when she had her youngest daughter, now 4, she sought the program out even though she had moved to a new neighborhood. She wanted to ensure her daughter had the same opportunities she had given to her oldest son. At the parent meeting in another neighborhood the coordinator started the meeting with a quick warm up that resulted in parents identifying the skills that children were learning in the HIPPY activities. To have a group of parents of preschoolers engaged in “teacher talk” about vocabulary development, logical thinking and eye hand coordination caught the attention of nearby teachers who weren’t sure if this was a staff development or a parent meeting! Later, back “at home” in the Dallas HIPPY office, I was so impressed by the intensity and level of the home visitor training; the coordinators have developed a series of interactive and engaging training activities that prepare home visitors for enriching conversations with parents about the development of their children, the skills they are practicing and the instructional techniques used in HIPPY. Each component that I observed brought home the realization that we need to bring HIPPY into the public eye! We have some really great things happening!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Dallas HIPPY Board of Friends

Off to a great start! The Board of Friends (known as Advisory Council at other sites) had the first meeting of the year on March 10th. Our format for the first meeting was a program crosswalk, giving all partners the opportunity to share what's upcoming in their organization. Information was shared that HIPPY staff will take to their HIPPY parents, such as:

  • Dallas Recreation Center resources

  • Dallas Public library, Every Child Ready to Read activities

  • Injury Prevention Center planning activities

  • Boys and Girls Club of Dallas initiatives

We were so pleased to have Irma Vela, retired HIPPY coordinator joining us and sharing her expertise and support for HIPPY. Thanks to her, Dallas HIPPY has since received a gift of various household items to be used as door prizes for parent meetings.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Starting a New Program

One of the most challenging, and rewarding, parts of my job is supporting organizations that want to bring HIPPY into their community. Each start up is different, but in my experience all of them have the following similarities:

  • Need for school readiness and parent involvement - once the organization recognizes this need they see HIPPY as a viable solution that is cost effective and has the desired outcomes.

  • A champion, who advocates for the program until it becomes a reality! This person is a leader who is often within the organization that eventually hosts the program, although sometimes it's a dedicated volunteer or other member of the community.

  • Innovation culture in the organization - HIPPY often takes a change in perspective from seeing parents as a problem to recognizing them as powerful advocates and partners in their children's education. While home visitation has a proven track record, it is often perceived as risky or outside of the normal operations of an organization and it takes an innovative organization to recognize the power of this method.

  • Funding, this is what it all comes down to--finding that funding means grant writing, pulling together collaborations and partnerships and building HIPPY into existing resource streams.

Over the years I have witnessed so much interest in HIPPY, but unless all these aspects are in place, that interest does not gel into a new program starting up. It takes between 8 months and 3 years for that original interest to coalesce into a real program. This is a long and arduous process that can be compared to starting up a new business. The other day I found a website that helps non profits develop new parent education programs and identify what needs to be in place for a program to be successful. I thought it was interesting and an excellent resource for new programss to be developed so I'm sharing it here: http://www.cyfernet.org/pdpe/

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

RCT or die?

How do we prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that HIPPY
has made a significant difference in the futures of these children?
OK, that headline sounded a bit dire and dramatic I know but my mind keeps wandering back to the heated discussions we had on RCTs during the National HIPPY Evaluation Summit. Randomized Control Trials (RCTs) had everyone avidly sharing their opinion both for and against. Let's see if I can outline some thoughts while still maintaining some neutrality. Almost all of social science is built on quasi-experimental designs as well as in depth qualitative studies (such as case studies). RCTs follow the medical model for studying the effectiveness of drugs or medical interventions. In an RCT, participants are randomly assigned to a control group or an intervention group and evaluation is done on both groups throughout and/or after the intervention. Recently this approach is being discussed among legislators and policy-makers and held up as the “gold standard” of social science research. Why aren’t we hopping quickly onto this bandwagon? Why haven’t we done this already? First of all, it’s a very expensive evaluation design that requires serious resources in terms of expertise and staffing that makes it inaccessible to most programs—it necessitates a separate source of funding for the evaluation component alone that is most likely more expensive than the cost of the program it evaluates. Second, it works best in the initial implementation phase of a program, not as an ongoing program evaluation design. This reduces the opportunity to implement RCT to new programs, which may be at their most vulnerable in terms of fidelity to the model due to the inexperience of staff. The third and last reason why we’ve been hesitant to implement RCT is the nature of the HIPPY intervention. As a voluntary program being offered to vulnerable populations we are recruiting families based on relationships we’re building with them. During this recruitment phase we discuss with parents how their child will benefit from the parent’s commitment to the weekly visit and to working with their child daily. We discuss the materials they will be provided and the support they will be offered through home visits and group meetings. In an RTC model we would then have to randomly assign parents to the HIPPY and control groups. While this is common practice in drug trials, it’s not common in social services and could be damaging to the credibility and standing of the sponsoring organization if not handled in a socially responsible and positive way. If we could work out those three “little details” we would consider hosting a HIPPY RCT.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Creating Intelligence

In "Rising Above I.Q." a June 7th, 2009 NY Times op ed written by Nicholas D. Kristof, he says that by studying the "the success of Asian-Americans, Jews and West Indian blacks...there may be some lessons for the rest of us." What makes individuals in these groups rise above the norm? He scratches off higher intelligence and genetics as possible reasons. He recognizes diligence and hard work as factors. But ultimately the solution is...EDUCATION, EDUCATION, EDUCATION! Being read to and having parents regularly speaking to their young child are simple ideas that work. He cites research demonstrating that the average child of professional parents have heard 30 million words spoken by age 3, compared to a child who was raised "on welfare" (therefore the parent is presumed to be low income) has heard only 10 million words.

HIPPY gives parents words, so their child does not enter school with a 20 million word disadvantage.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Argentina HIPPY

Argentina HIPPY Team
Originally uploaded by hippyprogram

I had the fantastic opportunity to be part of the founding of HIPPY Argentina. This program is the newest international site and has some unique aspects I’d like to share. The sponsoring organization is AMIA—the most important and largest Jewish community organization in Argentina, a country that is said to have the third largest Jewish population after Israel and the US. Their services are vast, ranging from social services, religious education training, elder care, employment services and cultural exchange among others. Their history unfortunately includes a tragically brutal bombing in 1994 in which 85 casualties died. My daily visit to AMIA had me approaching what is currently the most fortified building in Argentina, moreso even than the “Casa Rosada” where the Argentine president’s offices are, yet planted in the middle of a bustling textile and warehouse district. I had been pre-cleared (my name was given in advance to security) and given the go-ahead to walk through a door the thickness of a bank vault, then a metal detector and through another bank-vault like door. Once inside I walked up a flight of stairs and into busy maze of the Department of Social Services of AMIA. There, HIPPY falls within the area of social services provided to young Jewish families. Other programs include food distribution, counseling and childcare. HIPPY will be working within this structure to provide school readiness and parent education to low income Jews in various areas of greater Buenos Aires. This in itself makes it unique, as the first program outside of Israel to focus on services to Jewish families. I spent three days training the home visitors and coordinator and then another two days in meetings with the team of social workers and other leaders in the community. Before leaving I had the opportunity to share the HIPPY story with officials from the City of Buenos Aires in the hope that at a future date HIPPY services could be expanded into other communities. I was inordinately pleased to be given this opportunity to start HIPPY in Argentina because I’ve periodically visited since early childhood since my Aunt and later my grandmother moved to Buenos Aires. It was such a treat to be able to see family again and also to have a chance to share what I’ve learned in HIPPY with one of the communities of my heart.

For more pictures of the training, see our flickr site:


Thursday, June 18, 2009

National HIPPY Evaluation Summit

Miriam Westheimer, Director of HIPPY International at the Evaluation Summit

Research and evaluation on the effectiveness of HIPPY has many different permutations across the US and internationally. In early May, Texas HIPPY in partnership with Colorado Parent Child Foundation, HIPPY International, HIPPY USA and Intercultural Development Research Association (IDRA) sponsored the first HIPPY Evaluation Summit. Evaluators and invited guests from outside organizations spent two days discussing the cumulative lessons learned from HIPPY research and plotting a path for collaborative and strategic evaluation work across the country. It was fascinating to hear from our “outside” experts what, in their opinion, our strengths are, and identification of do-able and worthwhile next steps. One big “aha” moment for me was the realization that our evaluation strategy should focus on the strongest and most faithfully replicated aspects of our program model. To me this means that evaluation that measures primary effects of HIPPY (school readiness and parent involvement) should be our main focus. Evaluations on secondary effects of HIPPY (child abuse prevention, nutrition/obesity prevention, civic engagement) are tempting but less desirable. One exciting opportunity that I can see is to use our online MIS in conjunction with the relationships we’ve built with school district evaluation departments to identify the critical dosage at which HIPPY makes the greatest impact. I’ve always been curious about which point in our 90 week program is the watershed for change to take hold. Knowing this can help us know how hard to push for families to complete the curriculum.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Houston HIPPY Hosts

Last Friday at Brookline Elementary, the Parent Engagement Department’s Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY) program, in collaboration with the Houston Women's Center and The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) kick off an eight week workshop series for HIPPY parents. The purpose of this project is to inform parents about Domestic Violence and Sexual Abuse prevention. Parents from the East, North and South regions of HISD are participating. In support of the HIPPY goal to empower parents to become leaders in the community, this preventive education will enable HIPPY parents to lead others and to disseminate information to prevent abuse at home and in the community. In the last of two sessions, parents will be working on a special project to present to the community by creating a visual symbol that will deliver of the message and advise the community about the importance of being informed and proactive in the prevention of violence. Participating parents will became part of the “Primary Prevention” team with Texas Association Against Sexual Assault (TAASA).

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Strong Families Needed in View of Economic Crisis

AP photo: http://blog.pennlive.com/thrive/2007/05/the_dalai_lama_coming_to_the_l.html

The May 18, 2009 edition of Business Week magazine had a short article on the Dalai Lama’s reflection on the current economic crisis. His take? There are three underlying causes of the economic collapse: greed, lack of transparency and speculation. He goes onto say that our society’s obsession with “money, money, money, money” is not right. While recognizing that, of course, money is needed to live, “it is not the only measure of value” and that our focus should be on other metrics which include the “happy family, compassionate family, the family full of affection and the compassionate community.” This brief interview gave me much to reflect on and connects viscerally to our work in HIPPY. How does one go about supporting the development of such a family? HIPPY does through concrete tactics that provide parents with tools to work daily with their children in a loving, nurturing and compassionate way. Our home visitors act as conduits, bringing positive parenting techniques into the home in a supportive manner. Our HIPPY children are given opportunities to have school readiness experiences in the nurturing support of their family home. And once they transition their children into full time school, HIPPY parents become a part of a compassionate community of parents who support their children’s education, empathize with and support their children’s teachers, and exercise their leadership either as home visitors themselves, or among other parents in the community. I think the Dalai Lama would approve.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Shapes and colors

Shapes and colors
Originally uploaded by hippyprogram
Part of the HIPPY curriculum is a set of plastic shapes. These are introduced in the 3 year old curriculum and used throughout the 4 year old curriculum in a variety of activities. They are used to teach...

* shapes
* colors
* pattern / sequencing
* counting
* vocabulary

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

El Paso HIPPY on the Horizon

New programs usually start small, not so in El Paso! We are thrilled to announce that El Paso HIPPY will begin in Fall 2009 with 400 families! El Paso United Way has received an AmeriCorps grant from the Texas OneStar Foundation to have 38 AmeriCorps members who will serve as home visitors, and two full time coordinators to supervise, train and support them. HIPPY is returning to El Paso, having been there in the early 90's, through 1999, at Regionl 19 Education Service Center. We are looking for program partnerships, collaborations, donors and volunteers to further strengthen our new program in El Paso. Please contact me if you would like to get involved!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Our long planned for and much awaited HIPPY*VISTA initiative is coming into full swing! New VISTA members Luis Rocha, Cherri Dehart and Amanda Sims went to Preservice Orientation in Albuquerque and then started as VISTA members at their sites on Monday February 16th. They have hit the ground running, with meetings at their sites, getting to know their host organizations and settling in to their new assignment. Luis Rocha will be working statewide, supporting the overall development and expansion of HIPPY in Texas, he is placed here in our office (Texas HIPPY Center, UNT). Cherri Dehart is working to bring HIPPY to the Maypearl / Venus / Grandview areas, and is located at Lorene S. Kirkpatrick Elementary School in Maypearl. Amanda Sims is housed on campus at the University of North Texas in Denton, and is focused on bringing HIPPY back to the Denton area. I think the most excited member of the HIPPY*VISTA team is Sarah Thorne, who started as a member back in August, and finally has colleagues to work with! Follow the challenges and victories of our newest team on the HIPPY*VISTA blog: http://texashippyvista.blogspot.com/

Our program was highlighted in a recent Dallas Morning News article on news that President Obama signed the Serve America Act into law:


Wednesday, April 22, 2009


HIPPY was featured on the news, Univision here in Dallas (link below). We've received a wave of emails and phone calls from parents following the story! Many people have been connected with their local HIPPY site. It's always disappointing to tell parents that we don't have a program in their area. For those parents I've sent them a packet of information to share with their local principal or school district.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Where are they now?

Gina helped us out on the HIPPY USA video production whenshe was HIPPY Grand Prairie Corodinator

Those of you who are "insiders" here in Texas HIPPY may be wondering about some of the friends we've made along the way who are no longer with the HIPPY program, where are they now?

  • Joe G. who was a coordinator in Irving HIPPY, is now a teacher at Everman ISD--first grade I think! He's still big into kickboxing but goes easy on the kids!

  • Alicia Yaliweisei, was a Dallas HIPPY coordinator and is now assistant principal in a Dallas elementary school

  • Gina E. who was a coordinator in Dallas HIPPY, then moved to Grand Prairie and started HIPPY there is now an assistant principal in Eisenhower Elem, GPISD. She still has HIPPY in her heart, and in her school.

  • Irma V. who was a Dallas HIPPY Coordinator and retired several years ago is still working along with her husband Roberto in education. They mentor teachers, consult on projects, are active in their church. We are happy to welcome Irma back to HIPPY as an advisor in the Dallas HIPPY Board of Friends!

  • Melanie W.M., Austin HIPPY Coordinator, now works for another Austin non profit organization that works with parents of young children. She and her family recent downsized to a smaller house in Austin in a new development where houses were built to be very energy efficient and green.
Wishing you all the very best! Thanks for supporting HIPPY!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Effects of HIPPY on Pre K Students

One of our HIPPY Graduates, Lluvia from Richardson ISD HIPPY

Part of our internal collaborations within the University of North Texas includes providing graduate students with the opportunity to conduct evaluation on the HIPPY program. Recently Veronica Martinez-Cantu, completed her Master's Thesis in Sociology, December 2007. She completed an independent study with Dr. Angela Nievar of UNT College of Education, and now works at Dallas ISD in the Research and Evaluation Department.

Together with Dr. Angela Nievar, Veronica completed an evaluation of HIPPY children in Pre-K. They have been accepted to present findings to the American Educational Research Association Annual Conference. Below are some excerpts of their findings:

"Early childhood intervention programs in this study are significant predictors of reading scores for low-income bilingual students. More specifically, participation in the HIPPY program predicted significantly higher reading scores; there were no effects for students who participated only in prekindergarten. This may suggest that the parental involvement curriculum in HIPPY programs helps bilingual students to overcome the barriers they face when ecological factors are in place, supporting the theory of developmental contextualism (Lerner, 1991)."


"It was of particular interest that prekindergarten alone was not an effective intervention for this group. The HIPPY program predicted higher scores on TAKS reading when combined with prekindergarten. A test of the HIPPY program, including students who were only in HIPPY and in both groups, was also significant."

It makes so much sense to me that HIPPY children in Pre-K do even better than their peers. That first year of school is such a huge transition for children. If they enter school well prepared, with parents who clearly understand their role and how to support their child's education, they are able to fully benefit from high quality classroom experiences. The evidence is clear...children need both quality pre-school classroom experience AND support at home!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Laredo HIPPY Closing

Families celebrating the completion of the 2nd year of HIPPY in Laredo
Unfortunately, a sad announcement to make about Laredo HIPPY. Due to unexpected lack of funding this year the program will not be able to continue into the third year as planned. We are saddened with this abrupt change in plans. Unfortunately, this is happening in a community that needs it the most--in the outlying colonias of Laredo (Rio Bravo and El Cenizo). We would like to thank the Laredo Community Foundation, Texas A&M International University and the many parents, home visitors, school staff and others that made HIPPY such a success for 2 years. We hope that future education funding can make HIPPY possible in Laredo again. I wish Esther Hernandez and all the wonderful people we met in Laredo the very best.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Take Home Information

Take Home Information
Originally uploaded by hippyprogram
HIPPY provides a necessary link for our parents to the resources and information available in the greater community. Home visits focus on preparing parents, one on one, to work with their child that week. During parent meetings we try to bring in community resources and provide parents with the opportunity to ask questions and learn from each other. In light of the recent focus on the problem of obesity among children, all of our programs have made sure to bring in nutritionists and nutrition information to their parent meetings at least once a year. This picture shows the resource/information table provided to parents at a HIPPY parent meeting in Houston. The door prizes for this meeting were nutrition related such as healthy snacks and children's vitamins. All parents took home healthy recipes and had the opportunity to sample healthy snacks.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

DARTing Around

DART Transit Bus
Originally uploaded by wandrson
We're trying to be all urban and hip around here at Texas HIPPY...it all started with David when he bought a house in Richardson, and started taking the train in to work. Recently Susan and I have both had to start sharing our cars with our respective teenage daughters, who are now drivers (eek!). Susan takes the train in to Pearl Station a few times a week and walks a few blocks up to our office, and usually has a story to tell! Me, it's all a very intellectual concept still--I like the idea but haven't made the move. I'm thinking about buying a scooter, yeah gas/mileage etc...mostly because I think they are so cute!!! Then there's light rail...DART is going to be able to bring us within a block of our office. We're actually in between TWO stations, both of which will be opening September 2009. Once THAT is done, I'll be able to DART up to the airport, to Carrollton, everywhere!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Challenge of History--Welcome New HIPPY USA Executive Director

I had the priviledge of being part of the HIPPY USA Executive Director Interview Committee earlier this year. We had the opportunity to interview three really really good candidates. I walked away knowing that, regardless of who was selected, HIPPY USA would be in good hands. I was pleased with the final selection of Marvin Schwartz who I believe has a great combination of skills and experiences and will help us take HIPPY to the next level nationally. One of the things that impressed me about Marvin was the research and legwork he did BEFORE the interview. He went on multiple visits to HIPPY programs and obviously did a lot of homework on our organization. Even I, a 20 year veteran in HIPPY, learned something new about HIPPY during the interview process. This revelation (the Hebrew translation of our original program name) was later shared in a letter from Marvin to the field, which is excerpted below: "I bring to HIPPY a diverse professional background in communications and development for the nonprofit sector. I also place great value on understanding history, and I urge each HIPPY program to preserve its unique heritage. Our program origins offer an inspirational example in this area. Many of you know that HIPPY was created in Israel by Avima Lombard in 1969. But, do you know that the translation of the program’s original Hebrew name (Ha Etgar) is THE CHALLENGE? Forty years ago, an innovative educator was challenged with the task of preparing immigrant children for educational success. Today, that challenge is repeated thousands of times every day as HIPPY program administrators balance the complex demands of funding, staffing, accountability, and much more. I am very anxious to meet you, to hear about the experiences you face on a daily basis, and to help all sites share the ‘lessons learned’ that have made HIPPY such a successful program. Together, we will continue to make history, and together we will bring HIPPY into the national prominence it so rightly deserves!"

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

A Principal Shares

If you ever get a chance to be "Principal for a Day", do it! Take your vitamins, get some extra sleep and then prepare for a heckuva day! I hear the stories every day (my husband Ricardo is principal of Hope Medrano Elementary in Dallas ISD). That's why it's so gratifying to hear from principals that value what we're doing at HIPPY. Recently, Jose Munoz, Principal at Cesar Chavez Elementary in Dallas ISD told us "Students who complete this program are better prepared for school, and the parents receive good training on how to help in the developmental stages of their child." Thank you Mr. Munoz, we couldn't have put it better ourselves!

Cesar Chavez Elementary:

Thursday, February 26, 2009

UTD Center for Children and Families

I have had UT Dallas on my mind a lot lately. My daughter Hannah is a senior in High School, and while she hasn't made her final decision, she's seriously considering UT Dallas. You know how it is when you are considering buying a certain car you suddenly start seeing it everywhere! That's how UTD has been for me lately, with good reason! UT Dallas has just opened the Center for Children and Families, http://ccf.utdallas.edu/. The center is part of the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences. I had the pleasure of meeting staff member Emily Touchstone over the phone the other day. It sounds like they have hit the ground running! Their inaugural initiative is the Spring 2009 Lecture Series: "Helping Children Succeed". They are going to be addressing some topics that you usually have to pay good money for at a conference, things such as social aggression among children and helping families cope with chronic illness. They are a great addition to the professional community here in North Texas...and would make a great place for a young college student who might be studying special education to do an internship with :)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Texas Teaching Fellows

We’re pleased to have recently met some new colleagues over at Texas Teaching Fellows (www.texasteachingfellows.org), particularly Mike Burlett and Melanie Moore. We found out that we’re working on some of the same issues, from different angles. Their work is to increase the workforce of quality, dedicated teachers in Texas and to improve education for all children in Texas. They do this by providing alternative certification training and ongoing support to their teaching fellows. Their fellows transfer into education from other fields, become alternatively certified teachers, and work in high-need schools. Well, HIPPY also wants to increase the workforce of quality, dedicated teachers, and we work toward improving education for all Texas children. How? Many of our HIPPY home visitors want to go into education, and they use their AmeriCorps education award to get their degrees. Their experience in HIPPY makes them passionate and dedicated teachers, as evidenced by several home instructors who became first time teachers this year. How do we improve education for children? Our HIPPY parents receive weekly home visits that provide them with the curriculum for them to work with their child for an hour a week, getting them ready for school. Students who were in HIPPY have demonstrated statistically significant higher test scores than children who did not benefit from the program. By forging a partnership with Texas Teaching Fellows it allows us to create a better support net for teachers, home visitors, parents and children. We are especially eager to create a partnership that can help bring HIPPY to Carrollton Farmer’s Branch, and create a pool of future teachers for the region.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Coordinator Spotlight - Esme

Monica (l) and Esmeralda (r) at the Kick Off

Esmeralda Rodriguez is new to HIPPY but has years of experience in the field of parent education. After the founding coordinator, Gina Esparza, was promoted and left HIPPY we were lucky to have HIPPY transferred into Esmeralda’s Parent Involvement Department at Grand Prairie ISD. I had a chance to get to know Esme in Little Rock when she attended the New Coordinator Preservice, and then again when we were assigned to the same cabin during the Kick Off (you really get to know someone when you see each other first thing in the morning before you get your game face on!). I recently had a chance to ask her the following questions:

What brought you to the field of parent education?
I was interested in providing prevention assistance and community resources to the students and families in order for them to be academically successful and make informed decisions that would benefit the student and the families.

What is your philosophy when it comes to involving parents?
All parents need be valued and given respect. We need to provide them a variety of opportunities to share their talents and gifts at our campuses.

Could you share a HIPPY success story from Grand Prairie?
Florina Montenegro had her sons Washington and Irving in our HIPPY program. Florina was shy and quiet. Her involvement with HIPPY has helped her to be one of our best parent volunteers at the Parent Involvement Center. She has learned to be very involved with the teachers of her children. She is awesome and is trying to continue to learn English to help her kids in school. She attends our parent workshops consistently.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Pre K Now

HIPPY Parent and Child, Houston ISD

There's a national movement underway to provide universal pre-Kindergarten, or at least full day PreK to elegible children. I fully endorse and support this movement. I also sometimes feel like the role of parents is getting a little lost in this effort. I've had the opportunity to review a lot of research regarding school readiness and it often seems like children are viewed as empty vessels that need to be filled as young as possible by professional educators. NO! Children enter school the very first day with experiences and skills thanks to their parents. Those of us in the field of parent involvement and education know that the research on the value and importance of getting parents involved early and keeping them involved is indisputable. It just makes sense that if parents work with their children at home (reading, playing, singing and conversing) and understand their role as first teacher...their children will do better in school. We KNOW that, but often don't know how to turn that into a reality with parents who are unsure about how to teach their child. I believe that what is BEST for young children is a high quality preschool with an excellent teacher who is well trained and compensated, AND with their parents' consistent and focused support at home. Schools and families are the "village" that raises today's children. If we don't invest in high quality, research based parent involvement for school readiness, we are missing out on an often untapped resource: parents.

For more information on the PreK now movement: http://www.preknow.org/

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Coordinator Spotlight - Yolanda

Yolanda Smith, Dallas HIPPY Coordinator

aka "HIPPY Cheerleader", encouraging everyone as they scaled the rock wall at our Kick Off!

Each of our coordinators brings special talents and gifts to our team. I'd like to share Yolanda's HIPPY story! When Yolanda and I first met it was her first week on the job as a Home Instructor in Fort Worth HIPPY. She had been recruited as a parent in the program, and quickly became interested in the position of home instructor. As a former teacher in New Jersey, Yolanda wasn't our typical parent nor home visitor in that she already had her degree, but she was at a crossroads in her life and as a member of the target community in Fort Worth she was elegible for the position. She quickly took to the HIPPY philosophy and by the next year she accepted the position of HIPPY coordinator when it came open! Over the next few years Yolanda grew and expanded the Fort Worth HIPPY program, doubling it in size. Again, she was ready for a change but didn't want to leave HIPPY. When she heard of an opening in Dallas HIPPY she seized the opportunity and was accepted for the position. Once she settled in Yolanda decided to use her AmeriCorps education award she earned while a home instructor and enrolled in college again to work on her MSW degree. With her positive attitude, motivation and sense of humor she has served as an inspiration to parents, home visitors and other coordinators in Dallas, Fort Worth and beyond! She's always ready to help out with trainings and presentations, she is insightful and is one of our strongest HIPPY Cheerleaders!

In her own words, when asked what HIPPY has meant to her, "HIPPY is the most fulfilling job I have ever had. Over the years with HIPPY I have had the pleasure of meeting such a wide variety of magnificent people such as Hilary Clinton and Dr. Ruth to name a few. I have also had the pleasure of developing wonderful relationships with my colleagues and the families we serve. HIPPY has been and continues to be a blessing to my family and me."

Thursday, January 15, 2009

College Forward

College Forward facilitating a team building activity during the Kick Off

One of our newest collaborations has been with a program in Austin called "College Forward". They offer college information and preparation to economically disadvantaged Texans. One of our funding partners, Texas Pioneer Foundation, put us in contact with them which has resulted in some great opportunities. Two of their VISTA members came out to our Kick Off and presented timely information to our HIPPY Home Instructors, on how to best use their AmeriCorps Education Award. We even went through the FAFSA together just in time for them to complete them in January when their tax information arrives. Our goal is to increase the number of home instructors who immediately put their education award to use. Even though they have 7 years to use the award, we know that time slips by quickly and there's never a perfect time to make the life changing decision to enroll in college as an adult!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Parents Volunteer

Our primary focus is to teach parents of preschoolers (age 3, 4, 5) how to get their children ready for school. Home Visitors first establish a relationship with parents, and train them to work with their children. Once parents feel comfortable with teaching techniques and their own skills they are challenged to give back to the community by volunteering. Home visitors are the link between the community and the school. They bring volunteer opportunities from the school to parents and support volunteering and parent involvement in the schools. Principals like Kay Reynolds at Richardson ISD Dobie Elementary have expressed the wide-reaching effects HIPPY has on volunteerism in their school, “My Pre-K teachers comb through their class roster at the beginning of the year looking for HIPPY kids and their parents! They know that these parents are motivated, anxious to help their child and willing to volunteer. HIPPY helps parents understand they need to be involved and to look for new ways to be involved.” We challenge parents to volunteer 20 hours per year through bringing opportunities into the home visit, hosting volunteer events at the school, and presenting volunteer opportunities during the monthly parent meetings at the school. This year the Texas HIPPY Center has developed a 15 hour curriculum for program coordinators to provide home visitors with training on how to develop leadership and volunteerism among parents. This curriculum is available online at http://www.hippymis.org/ (click on backoffice). Once activated, parents have engaged in the following volunteer activities: reading to children in the classroom, supervising field trips, overseeing the lunch room, making classroom supplies for teachers, establishing a community garden, participating in PTA, and special projects such as painting a mural at a school cafeteria. As a result of our Home Visitors efforts (HIPPYCorps Members) 80.6% of HIPPY parents increased their level of parent involvement with their children’s school. At the beginning of the year 47% of parents had volunteered or otherwise supported their child’s school. By the end of the year, 65% were involved monthly or more often. Thanks to the continuous support and motivation from the HIPPYCorps Home Visitors 1,590 HIPPY parents volunteered a total of 25,110 volunteer hours!