Journal Issue: Home Visiting: Recent Program Evaluations Volume 9 Number 1 Spring/Summer 1999
HIPPY: An Early Education and Family Support Program
HIPPY was developed in 1969 at the National Council of Jewish Women Research Institute for Innovation in Education, located at Hebrew University in Israel. Based on evidence that some early education intervention programs could help prepare children from low-income families to succeed in school, the program was created to respond to the low educational achievement of immigrant children in Israel. It was grounded in the recognition that the family plays a significant role in young children's learning. Specifically, HIPPY was developed to prepare children for school by enhancing the home literacy environment, the quality of parent-child verbal interaction, and parents' ability to help their children learn.5 Figure 1, developed by the authors, depicts the implicit conceptual framework of the program.
In addition to serving as an early education program, HIPPY incorporates features of family support programs.6 For example, HIPPY is based on an ecological approach7 that recognizes children's development as powerfully influenced by the families, communities, and societies in which they live. HIPPY therefore aims to create greater continuity between home and school by enhancing children's home learning environments. HIPPY programs are typically funded and administered by local agencies (usually public schools or community-based organizations), which work to develop community support and connections to other community-based organizations. (See the articles by Olds and colleagues, by Duggan and colleagues, and by St.Pierre and Layzer in this journal issue for descriptions of other programs that are at least partly based on ecological models.)
HIPPY programs provide support for families in a way that is designed to recognize and respect family needs and values, another common feature of family support programs.6 For example, HIPPY paraprofessional home visitors live in the same neighborhoods as the parents with whom they work, because program designers assumed that paraprofessionals who shared similar backgrounds and lifestyles with the families would be nonjudgmental of the parents, better able to deliver the program materials in a way that was consistent with the lifestyles and cultural belief systems of the families, and better able to establish rapport with families—which in turn would encourage the families to learn and use the skills that were taught.5
Finally, HIPPY, like all family support programs, respects the cultural diversity of the families it serves. HIPPY books and activity packets have been revised significantly during the past five years to make them more appropriate for America's ethnically and culturally diverse families.8
HIPPY diverges from some other family support programs, however, in using a structured approach with parents, with set lesson plans designed to enhance children's cognitive skills. This approach contrasts with the more individualized nature of many family support programs.9