Families & Communities


Texas IDRA PIRC Connections: Home Instruction Program for Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY)

The Home Instruction Program for Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY) is a home-based, early intervention program that helps parents create experiences for their children that lay the foundation for success in school and later life. The program is designed specifically for those parents who may not feel confident in their own abilities to teach their children. In the United States, HIPPY is a two-year or three-year program for parents with children ages 3, 4 and 5.

Every other week paraprofessionals who are also participants in the program make home visits to role play HIPPY activities with parents. On alternating weeks, group meetings are held. During group meetings, paraprofessionals and parents role play the week’s activities, and enrichment activities are offered, including issues of parenting and family life and often addressing parents’ interests in improving their own situation through further education and training. Parents spend approximately 15 to 20 minutes a day, five days a week, doing HIPPY activities with their children.

How does the curriculum work?
HIPPY activities are written in a structured format comparable to a well-designed lesson plan for a novice teacher. The purpose of the structure is to assure that activities will be easy and fun for parents to implement and to create a successful learning experience between the parents and the child. The curriculum is primarily cognitively-based, focusing on language development, problem solving and discrimination skills. Learning and play mingle throughout HIPPY activities, as parents help children build school readiness skills.

HIPPY utilizes role playing as the method of instruction when training paraprofessionals and parents. Role playing promotes a comfortable learning environment in which there is always room for mistakes. In addition to maximizing parents’ understanding in doing the activities, it promotes parental empathy for developmental capabilities of young children.

What are the staffing requirements?
Each program has one full-time, professional coordinator who is responsible for all aspects of program implementation and management. This includes recruitment, training and supervision of paraprofessionals, administrative tasks, working with the advisors and fund raising. Coordinators have backgrounds in early childhood education, elementary education, adult education, social work and community development.

Paraprofessionals, who are members of the participating communities and themselves parents in the program, conduct the home visits. They work part-time with 10 to 15 families. Becoming a paraprofessional is often a first job and a first step out of dependency.

Where is HIPPY implemented?
HIPPY is one discrete component of a comprehensive approach to supporting families. As such, HIPPY is operated within the context of larger organizations that offer an array of services for families. Successful HIPPY settings include centers and community-based agencies.

What does HIPPY cost?
Costs are approximately $1,000 to $1,500 per child per year over two years. This is based on an average program size of 60 families in the first year and 120 families in the second year, a full-time coordinator and one paraprofessional for 12 families. Costs include staff salaries (the largest and most valuable component); curriculum materials; fees for training and technical assistance, program development, and license and affiliation; and other direct costs.

How are HIPPY programs funded?
While funding is frequently the greatest obstacle to starting and maintaining a HIPPY program, programs around the country have been successful in securing support from public and private sources at local, state and national levels. Funding has been provided through early childhood education initiatives including Title I (Chapter I), Even Start, Head Start, job training programs (particularly JTPA), public housing initiatives, a myriad of prevention and early intervention programs (such as child abuse prevention, teen pregnancy prevention, and crime prevention) and foundations, businesses and civic organizations. Also, the federally-funded RE-CONNECT parent information and resource center at the Intercultural Development Research Association will establish and expand upon parent support services provided through HIPPY in Texas.

Is there research on HIPPY?
Extensive research in Israel, HIPPY’s country of origin, indicates that HIPPY benefits children by improving academic achievement and adjustment to school, reducing the need for children to repeat grades and increasing the rate of school completion. Positive impacts on parents include increases in involvement in their children’s education, higher self-esteem and further education for themselves. The first systematic evaluation of HIPPY in the United States, funded by the U.S. Department of Education, is currently being conducted by the NCJW Center for the Child. Preliminary findings of the first grade teacher ratings suggest that participation in HIPPY may have a positive effect on children’s classroom adaptation, an important component of school success. Other U.S. research includes several case studies that focus on implementation.

How do I get started?
The development of a HIPPY program combines strong grassroots community collaboration, securing funding and ongoing dialog with HIPPY USA. The HIPPY USA Start-Up Manual provides a step-by-step guide to beginning a program. It includes information on conducting a community needs assessment, developing and convening an advisory group, submitting an application, preparing a budget and hiring staff. HIPPY USA’s Guide to Fund Raising describes potential funding sources and provides “cut and paste” proposal elements. A variety of outreach materials are also available.

 For more information contact hippy@unt.edu.
HIPPY in Texas