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.