Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Little Kids Counting

Early Ed Watch had an article about the important of developing children's math skills. While HIPPY is often cited as a literacy development curriculum (it is!) we often see strongest gains in children's math skills. In Dallas, across grade levels, 79% of HIPPY students met the TAKS Math Standards, compared to only 68% of non-HIPPY students. In Irving HIPPY, more students were found to have gained sufficient mastery in English to be able to take the TAKS Math administration in English, compared to non-HIPPY students. (This is significant because these second language learners completed the HIPPY curriculum in their native language of Spanish, but once they learned the concepts it was more readily transferred into their second language of English). These gains are attained because the HIPPY curriculum exposes children to math concepts such as counting, one to one correspondence, patterning and number recognition as early as age 3. According tot he Committee on Early Childhood Mathematics, 60% of 3 year olds receive no math instruction at all! For more information about the importance of early math experiences, check this out.

(pic below, Dallas home visitors preparing and role playing HIPPY curriculum, including Math activities (!), for the week.)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Maternal Depression

Being a parent isn't easy, but for parents who face economic, social, cultural and personal hardships, it's an even more daunting task. That's why programs like HIPPY, that provide in-home support and information from a caring, trained peer can have such a positive effect on families. In Mental Health Needs of At-Risk Families, a report by Dr. Angela Nievar of UNT, she found a positive significant difference between HIPPY parents and non-HIPPY parents in the HOME (Bradley & Caldwell, 2000) score, which includes observations of parenting and survey questions.  The HOME measures actual parenting, including appropriate responsiveness of parents, responsibility parents take for their children, and the type of environment that parents provide for their children. Parents who did not participate in the HIPPY program reported significantly more attachment-related stress on the Attachment subscale of the Parenting Stress Index (Abidin, 1994) than HIPPY parents.    Results of the parent interview are reported below by group.  Higher percentages of HIPPY parents:

1.       Thought that parents should quickly develop close, warm feelings for their child.
2.       Reported having close, warm feelings for their child.
3.       Did not describe their child as “mean.”
4.       Felt more comfortable holding and taking care of children.
5.       Said that their child knows them and wants them.

I was reminded of this recently when I read about a February 15th study published online in Pediatrics, which found that post-partum depression occurs at an elevated rate among low income women. Linda H. Chaudron, M.D., and colleagues studied 198 low-income mothers and found that 56% met criteria for minor or major depression, compared with a rate of 14% in the general population. Three routinely used depression screening tools proved to be effective in identifying post-partum depression in this low-income group, but the authors caution that scores two or three points below the traditional cut-off may require further evaluation in low-income moms. (Mental Health Weekly DOI:10.1002/mhw)  

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Children Count Too

Today I received a letter in the mail, my US Census form. It turns out the young children are the MOST UNDERCOUNTED group in the US Census. Because of that, HIPPY is partnering with the US Census to get the word out to families. According to a recent webinar I attended with the Center on Public Policy Priorities, for every 100 people not counted, a community may lose $1.2 million over 10 years. The reason behind this calculation is that opportunities for Federal funding is tied to population statistics. You can hear the whole webinar here: http://www.cppp.org/events/event_details.php?eid=239. What can you do? Everyone knows parents of young children, and knows how hectic their lives can be. You can be the friendly reminder to them to fill out their Census form, and to make sure their children are counted! If you work with parents of young children, please get Census information to them, help all Texas children be counted this year!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Why isn't "things are going great" news?

What's going on around here? Our programs have had their annual round of site visits from HIPPY USA and fared very well. Some of the national trainers pointed out that they observed some excellent home visits, home visitor training and parent meetings. Our sites are now turning their attention to end of year plans which are going to be bigger and better than ever! Houston HIPPY is having to secure a space for ONE THOUSAND expected attendees. Dallas HIPPY will be hosting 3 or 4 large events, each expected to have over 400 attendees. Grand Prairie will be receiving a visit from a local sports figure at their annual HIPPY Store event, an incentive program that gives parents points for participating daily with their child and enables them to "purchase" items such as clothes, household items and school supplies. On the funding front, Texas HIPPY received a grant from the Dallas Foundation to match our AmeriCorps and VISTA grants and will be selecting a new round of VISTA members for the fall. Business as usual? or good news? Both I guess...As an education program it's hard to get this good-business-as-usual story out there! It turns out that education stories account for only 1.4% of all national news coverage. http://earlyed.newamerica.net/blogposts/2009/ignoring_early_education-24178