Funding boost saves under-threat school programme

Chloe Wright. Photo: Chris Callinan

A transformative programme ensuring low socio-economic children do not start school lagging behind their peers, including in the Bay of Plenty, has been saved from cutting its services thanks to a new partnership with the Tauranga-based Wright Family Foundation.

The Great Potentials Foundation’s HIPPY (Home Interaction Programme for Parents and Youngsters) Programme currently operates in 41 low socio-economic areas around New Zealand, from Kaitaia to Christchurch, with over 2,300 families currently involved. In the Bay of Plenty, HIPPY is represented in Whakatane, Murupara and Rotorua.

Great Potentials co-founder Dame Lesley Max says funding has been a serious concern for the last two years, and the organisation would not have been able to sustain its national support services indefinitely. Registered charitable trust the Wright Family Foundation has stepped in to fund the programme to the tune of $230,000 a year for at least the next three years – saving the organisation from cutting its coverage, and presenting the possibility of expansion.

The proven life-changing programme is designed to specifically support parents who may not feel comfortable in their own abilities to support their children’s education – breaking the cycle of lack of education, and making generational change. It prepares children aged three to five for the transition to school, while giving parents the skills and confidence to engage in their children’s learning and go on to further education and employment. The programme helps parents create experiences that lay the foundation for their children’s success in school and later life.

Research shows that children completing the programme are outdoing their peers – they are successfully prepared for school and the gains in literacy and numeracy are maintained over time - yet the national operation of the service was at risk of being cut due to funding shortfalls.

The service receives some Government funding but relies heavily on grants from other sources and fundraising.

“The Wright Family Foundation’s support has been a game-changer for us,” says Dame Lesley. “As well as ensuring we can retain our current level of service, this funding also gives us the stability to think about expansion into further sites, which is the goal so we can share the programme’s success and help more families in more locations.”

Wright Family Foundation CEO Chloe Wright says the HIPPY programme is based on the premise that parents are their child’s first and most important teachers, a philosophy shared by the foundation.

“This programme is unique in that it’s unleashing potential in both parent and child – the parents develop the skills and confidence to take on this important role,” says Chloe.

“The parent grows as well as the child, and ends up giving back to the community. It’s the epitome of ‘growing the good’, which is the Wright Family Foundation’s philosophy.

“Many parents find they have talents they were unaware of and this is the beginning of a new phase in their life. HIPPY is truly a two-generational programme that, as well as settling children on a positive pathway through education, opens doors for parents into training, education and employment.”

The Wright Family Foundation is a not-for-profit registered charitable trust that is dedicated to making a positive difference by advancing education and spreading knowledge, supporting individuals to achieve their full potential.

The foundation supports several initiatives supporting best beginnings for parent and child including BestStart Educare, Plunket, The Parenting Place and Brainwave Trust Aotearoa. The foundation owns and operates Birthing Centre, which has three primary birthing facilities open in New Zealand and a fourth due to open this summer.


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