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HIPPY NEW ZEALAND: AN EVALUATION OVERVIEW.

INTRODUCTION

The Home Instruction Program for Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY) is a home-based intervention programme, aimed at the educational enrichment of preschool youngsters. The programme targets parents within economically stressed communities who have low educational levels. Children from financially disadvantaged backgrounds are said to be at increased risk for educational failure (Ceci 1996, Morris et al. 1996). With growing numbers of New Zealand children coming from poor homes (Hassall 1997) this issue is of increasing importance to the New Zealand community and to policy makers.

This paper reports on the findings of a study aimed at providing a rigorous evaluation of HIPPY's benefits to both children and their caregivers, as well as providing information about process issues facing the programme. The next section of the paper provides some background on the wider context of early education intervention programmes in New Zealand as well as a description of the HIPPY programme itself and its evaluation history. The paper continues with sections on the overall methodological framework, the range of methods used to measure outcomes for children, the method used to elicit information on programme outcomes from tutors and caregivers, and the methods used in the process evaluation. Further sections discuss the findings of the outcome evaluation and the themes emerging from the process evaluation.

BACKGROUND

HIPPY is a school preparation programme focused on pre-literacy and pre-numeracy skills (Kagitcibasi 1996). HIPPY centres on the parent-child dyad, with an explicit aim of increasing parents' awareness of their potential and strengths as home educators. The core aspect of the HIPPY programme is the parent-child interaction. Parents facilitate their children's learning using a structured workbook activity for 15 to 20 minutes a day, five days a week, 30 weeks a year for two years from the age of four.

The HIPPY home tutors are themselves mothers of preschoolers from the same communities (Lombard 1994). The tutors often have very little formal educational experience, and for many this is their first paid position (Westheimer 1997). The tutors meet with participating primary caregivers (who are usually the mothers) in their home every fortnight to go over the activities using a role-playing technique. In addition, parents attend group meetings every fortnight where the activities for the following week are rehearsed. The aim of this method is to ensure that all the mothers, including those who may be illiterate, are fully familiar and comfortable with the programme's materials (Lombard 1994). Furthermore, the use of the role-play enables parents and tutors to discuss issues such as the aims of specific activities, the needs of learners and the developmental capabilities of young children. The use of role-play may assist parents in learning new teaching skills (Westheimer 1997). In addition to the primary focus on children's learning, in many cases primary caregivers are encouraged to receive some kind of enhancement such as adult education courses.

HIPPY is located in areas that are considered to have a high proportion of educationally disadvantaged children. The local centres are run by a local co-ordinator who is usually a professional woman with a background in education (Lombard 1994).

The teaching technique used in HIPPY is that of programmed instruction, where the materials are highly structured to maximise children's success (Lombard 1994). Although the use of structured lesson plans has been called into question in preschool curriculum (Schweinhart and Weikart 1997), the HIPPY materials were designed to ensure that parents, irrespective of their own educational background, would be able to deliver them successfully to their children. Furthermore, the materials used in the programme are said to produce clearly visible changes in children's comprehension and ability, so that parents will consistently see a high value for their involvement (Lombard 1994).

The HIPPY materials are aimed at facilitating language, sensory, perceptual discrimination and problem-solving skills (Lombard 1994, Max 1995). The facilitation of language is seen as a key element of the programme, particularly interaction with books. The programme does not assume that parents have any prior experience in reading to their children, so every aspect of the interaction is clearly stated. It is important to note that although the programme is written in the primary language of each prospective country (e.g. English in New Zealand), the programme materials are flexible enough to enable caregivers to use their own language with the materials (National Council of Jewish Women 1993).

HIPPY originated in Israel, where it was established in 1969. Since then it has been implemented in Turkey, Chile, Germany, Mexico, the Netherlands, South Africa, Australia, in some 30 US states and, since 1992, in New Zealand (Lombard 1994). HIPPY was introduced to New Zealand by the Pacific Foundation for Health, Education and Parent Support, a charitable trust. HIPPY was identified by the Trust's Executive Director Lesley Max (Max 1990) as a researched educational strategy that might improve the school performance of New Zealand children from educationally disadvantaged circumstances. The first HIPPY programme was implemented in 1992 as part of a prototype "one stop shop" Preschool and Whanau centre in Papakura. The other components of this centre were preschool, family support and a Plunket service. Following early encouraging results, the Foundation advocated to Government that further centres should be established. The 1993 budget provided for six further pilot Family Service Centres in Mangere, Otara, Huntly, Opotiki, Porirua and Motueka, where HIPPY was included among the services. These centres were funded by the New Zealand Community Funding Agency (now part of the Children, Young Persons and Families Agency) and were subsequently evaluated (see Burgon 1997).

Six "stand alone" HIPPY programmes that do not operate as a part of a family service centre were established between 1995-1998 as a result of requests made to the Pacific Foundation by various community organisations. These "stand alone" programmes are funded by a variety of sources obtained through fund raising by both the National Director of HIPPY and the centre co-ordinators. Currently, HIPPY New Zealand is working towards the expansion of HIPPY and obtaining increased government funding (Max, personal communication).

HIPPY's Evaluation History

The programme has been repeatedly evaluated since its establishment in Israel in 1969. Since then evaluations have been carried out in Turkey, the US, the Netherlands, South Africa, Mexico and New Zealand. Evaluation designs have ranged from informal observations and interviews (Arkansas), to quasi-experimental designs (the Netherlands), and experimental design involving random allocation (Israel, Turkey) (Lombard 1994). The focus of the evaluations has been primarily on the children, assessing their cognitive ability, teachers' perceptions of their ability, and improvement in skills such as hand-eye co-ordination. In general, results showed significant differences between HIPPY and control group children (Bekman 1998, Lombard 1994), with the most notable differences being in Maths achievement (National Council of Jewish Women 1993).

In a recent government evaluation of the pilot government funded HIPPY programmes in New Zealand, it was found that HIPPY children's performance on both reading and maths was on a much higher level than was to be expected by their circumstances (Burgon 1997). Moreover, the overall academic level of progression of HIPPY children was much faster than would be expected had they not participated in the programme according to the evaluation. In particular their faster advancement was indicated by the change in their performance on a widely used standardised test of children's receptive vocabulary. Seventy-five per cent of HIPPY children improved their standard scores from baseline assessment to post-intervention assessment (Burgon 1997).

The government evaluation may have suffered from a fundamental problem of the incompatibility of the comparison group used for most of the measures. The group to which HIPPY children were compared were four to five months older on average than the HIPPY sample. In addition, the majority of the comparison group were of European origin (64%), whereas the comparable proportion for the HIPPY group was 40%. The comparison group children also came from a wider range of household incomes. Finally, all of the comparison group children had preschool education experience whereas preschool attendance information was not available for the HIPPY group (Burgon 1997).

As outlined, the emphasis in evaluating HIPPY has been on educational benefits for children. There has been some anecdotal evidence which alluded to potential benefits for caregivers, both internationally (Bekman 1998, Kagitcibasi 1996, Lombard 1994) and in New Zealand (Burgon 1997), but there has not been an attempt to quantify these benefits. In addition, given the shortcomings of the recent government evaluation of the programme in New Zealand, there was a need for a local evaluation of HIPPY that involved a more appropriate comparison group. The current study therefore was aimed at providing a rigorous evaluation of the programme's benefits to both children and their caregivers, as well as providing information about process issues facing the programme.

METHODOLOGICAL FRAMEWORK(2)

A triangulation approach was taken in the present evaluation. Triangulation refers to a research approach that uses multiple informants and multiple measures of multiple outcomes for a thorough understanding of the situation. Thus children's skills and behaviour were assessed by their teachers and independent researchers. Furthermore, archival data were obtained of children's success on standardised measures used by their schools. Primary caregivers of HIPPY children and comparison children were given a questionnaire. In order to conduct a process evaluation, semi-structured interviews were carried out with HIPPY caregivers, school personnel and co-ordinators.

Selection of HIPPY Centres and Schools

HIPPY programmes were evaluated in five locations, four in Auckland and one in Huntly. These locations were chosen to represent both the stressed urban environments as well as the poor rural areas in which the programme operates in New Zealand. In two of the five centres the population was predominantly Maori. In two others the majority of the population was of Pacific Island origin and in one there was an ethnic mix of immigrants from Asia and the Middle East as well as Maori, Pacific Island and European participants. The centres that participated in the research also represented the range of funding sources under which HIPPY operates in New Zealand. The Community Funding Agency funded three of them that were part of Family Service Centres. The remaining two centres were "stand alone" programmes that operated independently, where part of the co-ordinators' responsibility was to raise funds in order to ensure programme delivery.

The ten schools most commonly attended by children from the five centres of interest were approached to obtain their participation in the study. All schools agreed to participate. The schools were in some of the lowest socio-economic areas in the country as determined by their decile ratings. Decile ratings are provided by the Ministry of Education for funding purposes and take into account the socio-economic status and ethnicity breakdown of the population. Ratings range from 1 (low SES) to 10 (high SES). Six of the schools had a decile rating of one, two had a decile rating of two and two had a decile rating of three.

There were two main components to the evaluation. The first was concerned with outcomes for both children and their primary caregivers who had been in the programme for at least one year. There were, in essence, four sub-studies in the outcome part of the evaluation, three concerning outcomes for children and one concerning outcomes for caregivers. The second component of the evaluation focused on process issues in the delivery of the programme.

CHILDREN'S OUTCOME EVALUATION METHODS

The evaluation of outcomes for children contained three elements: school achievement, school readiness and school behaviour.

HIPPY Children's Achievement in School

The participants in the school achievement study comprised all children who turned six between 1996 and 1998 from eight of the ten participating schools. The eight schools involved in this part of the study were those that regularly administered standardised educational tests developed to assess New Zealand 6-year-olds, known as the Reading Diagnostic Survey and the Burt Word Reading Test. The Diagnostic Survey was designed for New Zealand children to assess their need for remedial reading tuition (Clay 1985)

Tests results were obtained from school records for a total of 781 children, 77 of whom were HIPPY children. In order to preserve confidentiality, children's names were deleted with teachers marking the results as referring to a HIPPY or non-HIPPY child. This meant no gender or background information was available for this sample.

The reading Diagnostic Survey consists of five sub-tests, in which a specially trained teacher rates children while observing them working on literacy-related tasks (Clay 1985, 1993). The five sub-scales are: Letter Identification, Concepts About Print, Word Test, Writing Vocabulary and Dictation.

HIPPY Children's School Readiness

The participants in the school readiness study were HIPPY children and comparison group children (i.e. children who were in the same school and class as their HIPPY counterparts) who had attended one of the ten participating schools for a maximum of six months. The children were administered a test of school readiness by senior psychology students. A total of 58 children participated in this part of the study, comprising 29 HIPPY children and 29 comparison children. Permission to assess children was obtained through their primary caregivers. In order to obtain comparison caregivers and children, an invitation to participate in the study was sent to caregivers of all new entrants and year one children at the ten schools. The invitations included a brief description of the research, as well as an offer of a $10 food gift voucher for participation.

The Metropolitan Readiness Tests (MRT) were designed in the US to assess the skills of children in their early school years (U.S. pre-kindergarten, Kindergarten and Grade one) (Nurss and McGauvarn 1986). The tests cover the four major areas that are seen to be essential for pre-reading and pre-mathematical learning. These areas are Visual Skill, Auditory Skill, Language Skill and Quantitative Skill.

HIPPY Children's School Behaviour

In the school behaviour study, the HIPPY and comparison children from the school readiness study were joined by their classmates. This was because school personnel commented that the caregivers and children who participated in the research as a comparison group in the school readiness study were not representative of the school's population. They expressed an interest in seeing how HIPPY children compared to all other children in their class, not only to the comparison sub-sample. Teachers in four of the schools who had participated in the school readiness study now completed a behavioural measure, the Behavioural Academic Self Esteem Scale (BASE) for all the children in their class. The four schools were selected because the majority of HIPPY children attended them and they were representative of the researched areas.

BASE is a behavioural evaluation scale designed in the US. The scale measures children's academic self-esteem through the direct observation of their classroom behaviour by their teachers (Coopersmith and Gilberts 1982).

TUTORS' AND CAREGIVERS' OUTCOME EVALUATION METHODS

Three groups participated in the tutors and caregivers research: HIPPY tutors, HIPPY primary caregivers and comparison primary caregivers. Nationwide, 44 HIPPY home tutors were recruited through their co-ordinators. A total of 52 HIPPY caregivers in their second year of the programme were recruited for the research, and information obtained from centres' co-ordinators indicated that no eligible caregivers refused to participate. The comparison group consisted of 38 primary caregivers whose children had been to school for a maximum of a year.

The participants in the three groups were mainly women, with average ages in the mid-thirties. Most participants were of either Maori or Pacific Islands descent, with smaller numbers of Pakeha and Asians. Over half of the participants had less than 10 years schooling (see BarHava-Monteith (1998) for more detail on participants' characteristics.)

A questionnaire was constructed in order to measure the degree of caregivers' involvement in educational activities, and their attitudes towards parenting, education and their child's school. The questionnaire was constructed following interviews that were conducted with ex-HIPPY tutors with at least two years experience in the programme, who represented the ethnic diversity of the target population. Finally caregivers were given the Rosenberg self-esteem scale. The Rosenberg self-esteem scale is one of the most well-known and widely used measures of global self-esteem in psychological research (Brown 1998)

PROCESS EVALUATION

School principals, vice principals and new entrant teachers were interviewed in all of the participating schools. Issues such as the well-being of children in their school, providing services for children in need, and the difficulties encountered by the school when interacting with parents were explored. Furthermore, personnel were interviewed with respect to their views of the HIPPY programme, its effectiveness and the degree to which they believed it reached the target population.

Co-ordinators were interviewed in all centres throughout the course of the research. The purpose of these interviews was to obtain information about the operation of the programme. Issues such as families who drop out, the extent to which HIPPY reaches isolated families and organisational/operational difficulties were explored.

Group interviews were conducted with second year participants and tutors in all of the centres evaluated. The interviews covered their perceptions of the impact (if any) of HIPPY on caregivers and their children, as well as their ideas for improvements to the programme.

FINDINGS OF THE OUTCOME EVALUATION

HIPPY children scored higher than non-HIPPY children on all of the 11 measures obtained. The difference reached statistical significance on four measures. These were three of the six New Zealand Reading Diagnostic tests, Concepts About Print (p [is less than] 0.01), Word Tests (p [is less than] 0.001) and the Burt (p [is less than] 0.05). On the measure of children's academic self-esteem (the BASE), the mean of HIPPY children was slightly higher than that of the comparison group and significantly higher than all other children in their class (p [is less than] 0.01)

HIPPY caregivers and tutors also obtained slightly higher scores indicating more positive attitudes, behavioural involvement and self-esteem than comparison caregivers on all eight of the caregivers' questionnaire sub-sections. This difference reached statistical significance on three sub-sections. HIPPY caregivers and tutors were significantly more likely to be involved in formal educational activities than comparison caregivers (p [is less than] 0.001), performed significantly more educational activities with their child in the previous week (p [is less than] 0.05) and were significantly more likely to have been involved in an adult education class (p [is less than] 0.001).

Thus, children who participated in the HIPPY scored higher on a variety of school achievement and adjustment measures than their same-school peers. It is argued that these results suggest that the HIPPY programme is effective in enhancing children's school readiness skills. Further, the results obtained for the Reading Diagnostic Survey, may suggest that HIPPY children are less likely to be found in need of Reading Recovery, a finding which may have significant resource implications.

Participation in HIPPY may have benefited children in a three-fold way. First, children's intellectual skills may have been enhanced through working on the HIPPY materials over the two-year period. Second, as a consequence of participation, these children may be more motivated to participate in educational activities and invest effort in their schoolwork. Finally, as it is the caregivers that deliver the programme, it could be the case that caregivers became more aware of the school's requirements and children's educational needs.

Caregivers in the HIPPY programme were found to be significantly more likely to be involved in formal educational activities than non-participant caregivers from the same schools and communities. Participation in HIPPY may have enhanced caregivers' confidence in their ability to contribute to their children's education, which in turn could have led to greater school involvement on their part. Participation in HIPPY is further argued to provide parents with additional sources of contextual social and emotional support (Belsky 1984) not previously available to them.

It can be suggested that this greater involvement may have come about through the confidence caregivers gained from doing the HIPPY materials with their children. While methods such as programmed instruction have been criticised on the grounds that they are culturally oppressive, imposing majority cultural practices on minority groups by invalidating their own (e.g. Pihama 1996), the use of structured methods may be appropriate for caregivers with limited experience in educational settings. Furthermore, as caregivers gain confidence they may move on to participate in a wider range of educational activities. This was suggested by caregivers themselves during group interviews.
 "If I hadn't done HIPPY I don't think I would have gone on the board of
 trustees. Before it was just school, just a school, that's it, that was
 where my kids go, that's it. But then after like seeing where HIPPY was
 going to and thinking well what else is there in the school that is
 actually happening, little did I know that it was the board that actually
 ran the school. I started to learn what was happening inside the school and
 how it works." (Maori tutor)


Thus, these findings suggest that being involved in the programme facilitated caregivers' ease in dealing with the school system and built their confidence in dealing with school personnel. Greater familiarity with the school could help alleviate the suspicion and distrust minority parents may have towards the school (Boykin 1986, Combes 1995), and result in parents' greater ability to support their children in the school system (Kagitcibasi 1996). This notion was further supported by all of the interviews carried out with stakeholders. In the words of the principal of a decile one urban school, "HIPPY helps people to take better control of the learning of their children rather than leaving it to the school."

As well as benefits to children and caregivers, the outcomes of this study suggest a generalised benefit of HIPPY to the local communities. HIPPY caregivers' and tutors' greater involvement in school activities may have helped strengthen the schools' operation and provided role models for the other parents. This notion was suggested by some of the school personnel interviewed. One commented, "There has been a flow-on effect where HIPPY parents influence other parents to become involved in the school."

THEMES THAT EMERGED FROM THE PROCESS EVALUATION

A major component of the research was the process evaluation that was carried out concurrently with the outcome evaluation. Five main themes emerged from the process evaluation. Three were programme delivery issues faced by the individual centres, specifically, coverage of the target population, retention and effectiveness. The fourth theme incorporated nation-wide organisational issues, and the third theme concerned HIPPY's place within the various communities.

Whom Does HIPPY Reach?

Although there was some variability in describing the target population between the various centres, the educational disadvantage of primary caregivers and lack of preschool experience for children emerged as the main criteria for targeting. It appeared as if the variability was connected to the location of the programme. Thus, in the predominantly Maori areas, low income, unemployment and single parent status were more consistently mentioned, whereas in areas with a high proportion of Pacific Island immigrants, being immigrants with little English was mentioned more often. Indeed, it has been argued that the combination of little parental education, absence of fathers and low income place children at particular risk for academic deprivation (Lee et al. 1990). Furthermore, it has been suggested that early interventions should target children who are particularly vulnerable, such as children of young or single parents, or of migrants and refugees with no community roots (Werner 1990).

The co-ordinators and school personnel described the programme participants as mostly meeting the criteria for targeting, although some variability in backgrounds of families was acknowledged. However, most perceived the presence of some variability in the background of caregivers in a positive light. Variability was seen to facilitate peer modelling during group meetings and positively affect public perceptions. It was commented that if the programme was solely targeting the most disadvantaged members of the community, it could result in stigma being placed on the programme which may prevent primary caregivers from joining (e.g. Burgon 1997).

Nonetheless, it is important that the majority of families on each of the programmes fall within the target criteria. According to the programme's founder Avima Lombard (1994), the way to achieve this is through "door knocking". However, most of the co-ordinators interviewed voiced difficulty concerning door knocking in the recruitment process. The difficulties regarding door knocking were again specific to local areas. It appeared that coordinators found the process most intimidating in areas with many dogs, a high proportion of recent immigrants, a transient population, and less of a "community feel". Also, families' suspicion of being approached at their homes was mentioned as a deterrent for the co-ordinators. At the same time, most of the co-ordinators felt door knocking was the best way to recruit high-need families. Suggestions have been made to the programme as a consequence of the evaluation and HIPPY New Zealand is currently looking at ways to make door knocking less difficult for co-ordinators.

Retention Issues

There were relatively high drop-out rates from the programmes. Here too there was some variability: in most centres approximately one-third of families dropped out and in one centre close to two-thirds dropped out. This high rate of drop-outs is consistent with international research on the programme. Drop-out rates internationally have been quite high, particularly in very poor areas (close to 80%). In the Netherlands around 40% of mothers dropped out from the programme, approximately the same percentage who dropped out from the pilot study in Tel Aviv (National Council of Jewish Women 1993).

In the current study, most of the families who dropped out did so due to relocation or health problems. According to co-ordinators and tutors relatively few dropped out because they did not like the programme. As the evaluation was carried out primarily in Auckland it is not surprising that a large proportion of families had to leave the programme because of relocating. House rental prices in Auckland are the highest nation wide and many families can't afford them. Indeed, many school personnel mentioned the transient nature of the population in their area as a problem. It could be the case that in other programmes national drop-out rates will be lower as fewer families are forced to move. This would need to be further investigated.

Effectiveness of HIPPY with Different Participants

On the whole co-ordinators felt that HIPPY was equally effective with the various ethnic groups which participated due to the focus on cognitive skills and the simple nature of the materials. The main notion that arose in both the interviews with the co-ordinators and with the primary caregivers themselves was that the programme was universal in its appeal as it focused on helping children succeed in school. This reflected the importance placed by parents from ethnically diverse backgrounds on children's school success, which has also been found in recent international research (e.g. Galper et al. 1997, Neuman et al. 1995).

In the group interviews, primary caregivers from a wide variety of cultural programmes expressed their satisfaction with the programme, as it enabled them to reflect on different perspectives of the educational process. In the words of one Pacific Island mother, "It's good, I got learn, and he got learn too. We can share our mistakes, he didn't know I got mistakes. We share our mistakes, that's the most important thing."

It is possible that the positive aspects of the programme may become particularly apparent to caregivers as the child goes to school:
 "At first I didn't think too much of HIPPY, until he went to school and I
 could see that the programme does work. And my son I can see that he enjoys
 the challenges -- he likes to start and always to finish. I can see the
 difference between my older one and this one. Like it's easier for the one
 on HIPPY to do things than my older one, mainly in maths and reading. HIPPY
 helped a lot with my son's maths and reading, two things that he really
 likes doing. I wish HIPPY was introduced 10 years back."


Nation-Wide Organisational Issues

Co-ordinators consistently commented on the need for HIPPY to be more standardised nation-wide and to have centralised co-ordination and increased support for local coordinators. It was emphasised that as the programme grows so does the need for a national, full-time HIPPY co-ordinator to provide standardised support, training and monitoring. Furthermore, a national co-ordinator could follow national trends, which would enable greater accountability both within the programme and to outside agencies, as well as assist in identifying problems. Since the completion of the research, the Pacific Foundation has been able to raise the funds to employ a full-time national co-ordinator.

Another issue that emerged was the need to include some New Zealand content in the materials such as changing the American spelling and terminology and including some New Zealand books. While HIPPY New Zealand indicated that they had been aware of the desirability of local content for some time, lack of sufficient funding had prevented the development of such materials. HIPPY New Zealand has now decided to include the costs related to commissioning books and translations in future funding negotiations.

HIPPY's Place Within the Local Communities

An important issue that emerged from interviews with school personnel was the need to obtain close collaboration between HIPPY and the local schools. School personnel felt that their ability to assist HIPPY to reach families in need was under-utilised. The importance of facilitating connections with the local schools was emphasised by Lombard (1994) who stated that ensuring co-operation with educational settings in the community was a major part of the co-ordinator role. The consequences of a weak programme-school relationship were evident in the piloting stage where many school personnel were unsure as to the nature of the programme. Some school personnel were under the impression that HIPPY was delivered by professionals who could identify special needs of children and some thought that HIPPY was a form of day care.

A related (and unexpected) issue that emerged from this evaluation was that a relatively small number of children from any single centre attended the same school. Each school generally had between approximately five and 15 HIPPY children a year. We see this issue as important for two reasons. Firstly, if a substantial proportion of HIPPY children attend a particular school, the presence of these children may make a noticeable impact on the school. As well as helping the teachers, this may lead to the community embracing the programme in a snowball effect. Secondly, having HIPPY children scattered throughout a large number of schools poses a problem for evaluations. However, as caregivers in New Zealand can choose the schools to which they send their children, this problem may be difficult to address.

Indeed, the importance of collaborating closely with small, decile one schools was further supported by the finding that the two centres which emerged as the most successful in the evaluation did maintain such relationships with their local schools. Accordingly, the evaluation report recommended that HIPPY New Zealand view greater programme / school co-operation as a major objective.

Another community-related issue that emerged was the suspicion shown by some minority-group educational organisations toward the HIPPY programme, primarily because the programme uses English as the main language of instruction. The cultural appropriateness of the programme was raised as an issue in a recent evaluation of HIPPY New Zealand (Burgon 1997). Furthermore, writers such as Pihama (1996) proposed that programmes such as the New Zealand Parents As First Teachers and the American Head Start are culturally oppressive as they represent a view where failure is attributed to families, and what is considered appropriate care and education of young children is defined by the dominant cultural beliefs systems.

However, HIPPY caregivers with English as a second language saw the delivery of the programme in English as a positive feature. In group interviews caregivers commented that having the programme in English enabled them to help their children with English skills as preparation for school. Furthermore, caregivers commented that the programme also helped them improve their own English. The finding that HIPPY contributes to parents' English ability is consistent with international research on the programme (Lombard 1994). Nonetheless, it is important to note that parents were encouraged to use their own language in delivering the materials.

CONCLUSION

HIPPY New Zealand emerged from this evaluation as an early education intervention programme that provides disadvantaged New Zealanders with an important and beneficial service. Further, the response of programme stakeholders to the process evaluation findings and recommendations revealed a programme that is open to scrutiny and committed to improving the services they provide. The results of this evaluation suggest that policy makers in New Zealand may find it useful to become more familiar with the services HIPPY New Zealand provides to disadvantaged families in this country.

(1) Galia BarHava-Monteith's MA thesis was an evaluation of the HIPPY programme. She is presently an associate with the Boston Consulting Group.

(2) For a more detailed description of the evaluation method see BarHava-Monteith (1998).

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Galia BarHava-Monteith(1)
Niki Harre
Jeff Field
Department of Psychology
University of Auckland
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Copyright 1999, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Field, Jeff
Publication:Social Policy Journal of New Zealand
Geographic Code:8NEWZ
Date:Jul 1, 1999
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