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Mar 29 2018

Celebrating the Wonder Women of Home Visiting

The home visiting world is full of female influence: mothers, grandmothers, sisters, daughters, nurses, home visitors, doctors, social workers. Since March is Women’s History Month, we thought it would be fitting to pay tribute to two women who had a very significant impact on the our slice of the home visiting world, Avima Lombard, founder of HIPPY USA, and Mildred Winter, founding director of the Parents as Teachers program.

The Home Instruction Program for Preschool Youngers (HIPPY) program is a two-year home-based early education intervention program designed to help parents prepare their children for school. It was developed in Israel by Dr. Avima Lombard before it was brought to the United States in the early 1980s. Dr. Lombard developed the program in 1969 at Hebrew University’s National Council of Jewish Women Research for Institute for Innovation in Education to, according to 'The Times of Israel,' “help immigrants from North Africa and the Middle East prepare for life in their new country,” as well as to get a head start in the Israeli school system.

Almost two decades later, Dr. Lombard received a grant from the Ford Foundation to expand the program to the United States, with one of the first site locations being Miami, Florida. Hillary Clinton, then Arkansas first lady, on a trip to Miami spotted an article in the local newspaper detailing the new HIPPY program. Clinton traveled to Israel to train with Dr. Lombard, and brought HIPPY back to Arkansas where then Governor Clinton signed the legislation to fund it as a statewide program. Now, HIPPY serves more than 16,000 families in almost 120 communities across the United States.

Mildred Winter’s background is quite different than that of Dr. Lombard’s. She was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. She was a self-proclaimed “product of the St. Louis Public School System,” where she got her education and began teaching in St. Louis County, in the Berkley School District. The idea to start the Parents as Teachers program came to her when she was a kindergarten teacher, as she saw first-hand that a child’s chance “for success in school, the foundation for school success, was really laid in the home in the early years, when teachers, their primary teachers, were their parents.”

Winter realized that in her classroom, and in her school, there was a great need to reduce the number of children who needed special help because of the early experiences (or lack thereof) during their preschool years. Education could, and should, begin at home, with parents as teachers. She began the Parents as Teachers program while serving as Director of Early Education in the Ferguson Florissant School District in 1981. PAT is now an international nonprofit organization that promotes early development, learning and health of young children by supporting and engaging their parents and caregivers. It currently serves more than 195,000 children throughout the United States, more than 100 Tribal organizations, schools, and communities, five other countries, and one U.S. territory.

Dr. Lombard and Ms. Winter were pioneers in the field of home visiting, and were dedicated to education and to helping children and families develop better lives. Without their visions of a better future for parents and children, we would not have these two amazing home visiting models that continue to build stronger families and brighter futures today.



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