• IDRA Newsletter • November- December 1999

Reform in Education: Communities Organizing Networks for Emerging Collaborative with Teachers

Through the national Goals 2000 Initiative, the U.S. Department of Education has established parent information and resource centers (PIRCs) across the country to bring together parents, schools, universities and community organizations as well as businesses to support under-served student populations.

The Intercultural Development Research Association (IDRA) is proud to announce that it will establish Reform in Education: Communities Organizing Networks for Emerging Collaborations with Teachers (RE-CONNECT), the center that will serve Texas.

What are the goals of RE-CONNECT?


  • Providing training and technical assistance to parent educators,
  • Establishing new preschool program sites that will serve as model sites,
  • Assisting existing preschool program sites to improve the quality of their services, and
  • Building a state-wide network of parents who will serve as parent leaders.

What is the basic principle of RE-CONNECT?

RE-CONNECT’s work is based on the valuing principle that recognizes all parents as teachers and leaders regardless of economic condition or background.

What is the model of parental involvement RE-CONNECT will use?

RE-CONNECT will follow an innovative model of parent involvement developed by IDRA that goes beyond the standard approach to parental involvement. National studies and research support understandings of parents as teachers, parents as resources, and parents as decision-makers. IDRA builds upon these and expands upon traditional approaches by emphasizing parents as leaders and as trainers of other parent leaders.

Who does RE-CONNECT serve?

RE-CONNECT serves parents of children age birth through 5 and parents of school-age children.

What does the program emphasize?

A primary focus for RE-CONNECT is families of pre-school children ages birth through 5 and parents of school-age children. Also, the center will make special efforts to reach low-income, minority and limited-English-proficient parents. Some of the tools to be used by the project for its support activities will include: parent-to-parent training, a hot line, an interactive web site and a referral network for parents based upon local priorities.

As a result, RE-CONNECT will do the following:

What impact will RE-CONNECT have?

RE-CONNECT expects the following results:

  • Improved levels of parent involvement in their children’s schools.
  • Increased support to schools to develop strategies for encouraging ongoing parental involvement.
  • Increased numbers of parents participating in training sessions.
  • Increased parent involvement in educational decision-making.
  • Increased parental awareness of education issues.
  • New and strengthened partnerships between school, home and community.
  • Greater access to information for parents.
  • The development and use of materials that are culturally and linguistically appropriate.

How can I learn more about RE-CONNECT?

Additional information about RE-CONNECT is available through IDRA:

Intercultural Development Research Association
5835 Callaghan Road, Suite 350
San Antonio, Texas 78228-1190
phone 210/444-1710
fax 210/444-1714

The project directors at IDRA are Aurelio M. Montemayor, M.Ed., and Frances M. Guzmán, M.Ed.

Parents as Teachers: A Home-School Partnership That Works

Parents as Teachers (PAT) is an early childhood parent education and family support program designed to help all parents give their children the best possible start in life.

The Parent as Teachers Support System
This home-school-community partnership provides parents with information in child development from age birth to 5 and suggests learning opportunities that encourage language and intellectual growth, physical and social skills. Parents as Teachers is a voluntary primary prevention program that offers the following.

Personal Visits – Personalized home visits by certified parent educators, trained in child development, help parents understand what to expect in each stage of their child’s development, and offer practical ways to encourage learning, manage challenging behavior, and promote strong parent-child relationships.

Group Meetings – Parents get together to gain new insights and to share their experiences, common concerns and successes. Group meetings also provide families the opportunity to participate in parent-child activities.

Screening – Parents as Teachers offers periodic screening of overall development, language, hearing and vision. The goal is to provide early detection of potential problems to prevent difficulties later in school.

Resource Network – Families are helped to access other community services that are beyond the scope of the Parents as Teachers program.

Evaluation Findings
Numerous independent evaluations have shown the following results for families participating in Parents as Teachers.

PAT children at age 3 are significantly more advanced than comparison children in language, problem solving and other cognitive abilities and social development.

PAT parents are more involved in their children’s schooling?– parental involvement is highly related to a child’s success in school.

The positive impact on PAT children carries over into the elementary school years; PAT children score higher on kindergarten readiness tests and standardized measures of reading, math and language in early grades.

PAT parents are confident in their parenting skills and knowledge; they read more to their child – a key factor in preparing children for school success.

Adaptability is the key to the success of Parents as Teachers. While it is a national model with cutting-edge curriculum and a professional training program, it is truly a local program. As shown in the findings of Parents as Teachers evaluation studies and lessons learned from the field, the program is adaptable to the needs of broadly diverse families, cultures and special populations.

Parents as Teachers programs are part of many Even Start and other federal Title I programs, as well as Early Head Start and Head Start. Parents as Teachers in the Child Care Center enhances the quality of infant/toddler care and the parent-caregiver relationship. Parents as Teachers for Teen Parents offers instruction and guidance to help teen parents with the difficult challenge of raising a child. Corporations offer Parents as Teachers for employees as an investment in the present and future workforce.

Program funding is often a combination of federal, state, and local dollars, and private monies. Federal funds include Goals 2000, Title I, Even Start and Head Start.

Parents as Teachers National Center, Inc.
The Parents as Teachers National Center, Inc., is a not-for-profit organization that provides Parents as Teachers training and technical assistance, certification of Parents as Teachers parent educators, curriculum and materials development and adaptation, research and evaluation coordination, and international conferences. The center also engages in public policy initiatives that promote family support and parent education.

Born to Learn Curriculum
Through collaboration with neuroscientists from the Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri, the Parent as Teachers National Center, Inc., has developed the Born to Learn curriculum. Combining neuroscience information on how a baby’s brain develops and expertise from early childhood educators, the Born to Learn curriculum translates neuroscience research into concrete advice that supports parents in giving their children th best possible start in life. This neuroscience-infused curriculum includes detailed monthly, bi-weekly and weekly personal visit plans, child development information for parents, suggested parent-child activities and resource materials for parent educators and parents. It also features, for the first time, a 16-part video series keyed to specific personal visit plans. The Born to Learn curriculum became the standard PAT Prenatal to Three curriculum in 1999.

Parents as Teachers Training
The Parents as Teachers National Center, Inc., provides institutes at specified locations throughout the United States and on-site by special arrangement.

National Honors
Parents as Teachers has received numerous national honors. It received the 1997 APPLE Pie award in recognition for support of parent involvement in education from Working Mother magazine, Partnership for Family Involvement in Education and Teachers College, Columbia University. It was also accepted into the U.S. Department of Education National Diffusion Network in 1991, signifying that the program had provided convincing evidence of its effectiveness.Elaine Shiver, director, Parents as Teachers Program, Mental Health Association in Texas, 5952 Royal Lane, Suite 261, Dallas, Texas 75230, phone 214/363-8661, fax 214/363-8664, e-mail: txpat@txpat.org, web site: www.txpat.org.

HIPPY USA: Home Instruction Program for Preschool Youngsters

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.

Comments and questions may be directed to IDRA via e-mail at feedback@idra.org.

[©1999, IDRA. This article originally appeared in the November- December 1999 IDRA Newsletter by the Intercultural Development Research Association. Permission to reproduce this article is granted provided the article is reprinted in its entirety and proper credit is given to IDRA and the author.]