Citizenship, Immigration and Multicultural Minister Jason Kenney has announced an increase in funding of 2.6 million CDN for newcomer immigrant families who participate in the Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY) program. The purpose of this funding is to help newly arriving families transition and integrate quickly and more smoothly into Canada.
“Though programs like HIPPY, our government is giving newcomers the best chance possible to integrate into Canada and contribute to a prosperous society. The government has had a strong affiliation with the HIPPY Program for many years and is proud to help immigrant parents in their vital role as their child’s first and most important teacher,” explains Minister Kenney.
The HIPPY program was first established in Israel in 1969 as an evidence-based and community outreach program. It was eventually introduced to Canada in 1999. Since the foundation of the program in Canada, HIPPY has spread to 15 different communities across the country, aiding over 6000 low-income newcomers, Aboriginals and other Canadian Families in their efforts to create a better Canada in the past 13 years.
The HIPPY program seeks to help improve the education and development of the newcomer families’ children. At present, there are still children in Canada who are at risk of not being properly prepared for kindergarten due to their impoverished living conditions and the low literacy levels of their family. For this reason, HIPPY Canada aims at providing parents with advice and resources on how to better prepare their children to profit from the Canadian education system in the future. As the program’s website reads, “the HIPPY childhood development program addresses the diverse needs of these families to maximize the educational potential of their pre-school children.”
How does the program work? Parents participating in the HIPPY program are supplied with easy-to-use activity packets to promote fun learning. Additionally, parents are further supported by care professionals who make home visits and group meetings. To participate in this program, prospective families must follow six major steps:
1) Families apply to the program, where selection is based on need (determined by income).
2) Accepted families are required to make a two-year commitment to participate 30 weeks per year, concurrently with the school year.
3) Parents are then provided with packages including materials, curriculum and books.
4) HIPPY home visitors call upon the family every two weeks and bring new materials. One hour is spent reviewing this material. If the parent has low literacy skills, an older child or friend can participate in the visit. All of the instructional materials are prepared at a grade three reading level and are available in English and French.
5) Parents spend 15 minutes each day doing activities with their child.
6) Every second week, there is a group meeting at a community center or school with enrichment activities for the parents.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s settlement allocations for provinces and territories, excluding Quebec, has risen from $200 million in 2005-2006 to $600 million in the current fiscal year. Such funding has sprouted from the Canadian Government’s interest to improve immigrant integration in order to eliminate the growing income and unemployment gap. The increase in funding demonstrates what the government is willing to do to help immigrants start a better life in Canada.
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