The HIPPY program has made a lot children happy during lockdown.
Uniting NSW.ACT's Home Interaction Program for Parents and Youngsters program - or Hippy as it is known - works to develop learning and bonding skills with parents and children from more than 100 vulnerable locations around Australia - including Fairfield.
Funded by The Brotherhood of Saint Laurence, the program is dedicated to helping and prioritising people from vulnerable communities including Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities in locations where they may not have existing support networks.
HIPPY Coordinators from both Fairfield and Bidwill have successfully pivoted to an online platform to make the program accessible to families who need the program as well as giving parents access to HIPPY tutors virtually. Before lockdown, tutors would visit parents and caregivers in their homes each fortnight and guide them through the HIPPY activities.
Coordinators created fortnightly activity packs to send to families which included the regular activities, instructions, games, snacks and Play-Doh. Parents then take the material provided by tutors and guide their children through the activities for 15 minutes each day, five days a week.
"We created a private Facebook group for the families to teach them how to do the activities and to help keep our HIPPY families connected to their educators. We wrote instructions for the packs, made videos on Facebook as well as picture-by-picture guides. The private group is also a forum where families can talk about the activities with the educators and each other," Fairfield HIPPY coordinator Tinh Thai said.
"We also have weekly zoom sessions with the Mums from both centres so they can have some 'adult time' and support one another, it has been a great way to build the HIPPY community and connect families through isolation."
HIPPY tutors - who have gone through the program as participants - in Bidwill and Fairfield support between 10-15 local families at one time with the home-based school readiness program and provide parents with the knowledge and confidence to take responsibility for their children's learning at home.
Bidwill HIPPY coordinator Emeline Kite said when NSW lockdowns started in July they needed to make sure our coordinators, tutors and families were as "connected as possible."
"We needed everyone's help so there were no language or technology barriers for new Australians to participate. This included supporting families with access to technology and translation services because without this technology we couldn't deliver the HIPPY program virtually," she said.