Wednesday, July 27, 2011

DC HIPPY - new start up!

DC HIPPY - new start up! by hippyprogram
DC HIPPY - new start up!, a photo by hippyprogram on Flickr.

Helping new programs start up is among the favorite things I get to do in my work with HIPPY. Taking HIPPY from concept to implementation is a monumental task in any community. It requires funding, research, partnership building, hiring a coordinator, recruiting families, hiring home visitors. And, these tasks are generally done by busy people already working a full time job. In the case of Family Place DC HIPPY, a non profit organization working with Spanish speaking immigrant families in the heart of DC, it was an organization wide effort. The start up phase culminated in the 3 days I spent training the new coordinator and home visitors, followed immediately by their first week visiting families. Starting up in May is highly unusual but with some creative scheduling and a lot of hard work by staff and families, the program cycle will be complete by early Fall and ready to restart another cycle. Congratulations to everyone at Family Place in DC for getting HIPPY started!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

What a Difference a Decade Makes

Our office manager and keeper of all things fiscal for HIPPY AmeriCorps, Susan Blackburn, is retiring at the end of August. I would like to thank Susan for her hard work and dedication during her decade of service and wish her the very best in her new adventures as a retiree. I asked her to share with us her own reflections from her time with HIPPY Texas, which are below.

"Ten years ago I began working with an AmeriCorps program called 'HIPPY'. I had no idea what a life changing event I was entering and how many times I would be asked to take a leap of faith and trust the funding would be there, a place to house the project would be found and all the other challenges coming with a grant funded project. Each time the challenge was met and, with team work, the program has overcome most obstacles placed in its way. In facing these obstacles I became stronger and more determined HIPPY would persevere.

It had always been my dream to join the Peace Corps and do something special with my time on this planet. My connection to the AmeriCorps program has given me a chance to fulfill that dream and far exceeded all expectations. I have seen families change, parent / child bonds formed, learned and lived the phase “si se puede”. All of the lives I have been welcomed into have added so much to mine, there are no words to express the depth of feeling in my heart as I write these words.

I wish to thank everyone who has participated in my growing process these last ten years and my inclusion in the HIPPY / AmeriCorps family; together we can change the world one child, one parent, one teacher, one school, one neighborhood at a time. A part of me will be with you always, my role is changing, my dedication to the program is unchanged."

Again, Thank you Susan! from Carla, Keshia and all the Texas HIPPY Gang.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Giving Credit Where Credit is Due

Curriculum Training by hippyprogram
Curriculum Training, a photo by hippyprogram on Flickr.
The HIPPY model provides parents in the program with the opportunity to serve as home visitors. This is often the first work experience, or the first professional experience for our alumni parents. With training, support and supervision they provide high quality educational home visits to their peers and neighbors. Through our AmeriCorps grant they earn a scholarship which gives them the opportunity to go to college. Again, this is a first for most of our parents and home visitors. As described by Kathy White, our coordinator in Snyder, TX "Our HIPPY Home Instructors have gone from being a parent in the program, to obtaining a GED, enrolling in college and finishing two years with future plans of becoming teachers!” Their experience as home visitors provides them with marketable skills. One of my dreams is to be able to package these experiences into college credit. Their weekly training, 2-3 hours of examining the skills taught in the HIPPY curriculum that week in the context of child development, along with periodic trainings add up to over 100 hours of "classroom" time a year. CLASP, a national research and policy organization that focuses on education, employment and poverty issues, recently published their recommendations to create a national "competency based qualifications framework for post-secondary education and training". The report is Giving Credit Where Credit is Due and if realized it would create exactly the right system which would recognize on the job work experience such as HIPPY!

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Common Core and HIPPY

(HIPPY Curriculum used in a home visit)

The Common Core is a new set of national education standards that have been coordinated by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). It details grade by grade knowledge and skills that America's children should learn. It begins in Kindergarten (wish it were Pre-K!) and focuses on Math and English throughout all grades. The general public might be surprised that we don't already have national standards. For parents, the big question is "what does my child need to know?", and the National PTA has a guide for us.

We recently had a meeting in Little Rock to review the HIPPY curriculum and outline criteria for changes and upgrades to the Age 3 and Age 4 materials. We used the Common Core to guide our discussions and ensure that any changes we suggest are made in accordance with these new national guidelines.