How a country halfway across the world inspired Hillary Clinton to reform early learning in Arkansas.

An idea from 7,000 miles away.

Courtesy, William J. Clinton Presidential Library

It’s no secret that advocating for children and families has been the cause of Hillary Clinton’s life.It started in 1973 when she was a young attorney at the Children’s Defense Fund.

More than a decade later, as first lady of Arkansas, Hillary encountered another fight: early childhood education in the state.

After searching for the right solution, a source of inspiration finally came — from halfway around the world.

In 1985, on a trip to Florida, Hillary read about an early learning program in Israel called HIPPY — the Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters. The program was designed to teach low-income parents and those that couldn’t read to be their children’s first teachers. The program gave parents the skills and confidence to help their children build cognitive and early literacy skills, as well as enhance their social, emotional and physical development.

Hillary was excited about this new approach and presented the the idea to her husband, then-governor Bill Clinton. She then got to work to help bring HIPPY to kids across the state.

During his speech at the Democratic Convention this summer, Bill recounted the conversation and his wife’s work to champion the program in Arkansas:

“Twenty years of research has shown how well this program works to improve readiness for school and academic achievement. There are a lot of young adults in America who have no idea Hillary had anything to do with it who are enjoying better lives because they were in that program.” — Bill Clinton, DNC 7/26/2016

Since Hillary introduced HIPPY in Arkansas in 1986, it has served more than 5,300 families in the state, making it the largest HIPPY program in the country.

Research has shown that children ages 3–5 who participated in HIPPY are more prepared for school — and studies in four states found that kids had higher reading, math, and social studies scores that persisted beyond elementary school, with teachers reporting better attendance, behavior and peer interactions as well.

The success in Arkansas grew nationwide as states across the country adopted the program. Today, the program serves 15,000 families in 21 states and the District of Columbia.

Hillary has always fought to ensure every child receives a world class education — starting with our youngest learners.

She has known since her days at the Children’s Defense Fund that we have an obligation to provide the tools and resources necessary to help educate all of our nation’s children, regardless of their ZIP code — because every child deserves the chance to live up to his or her God-given potential.

Read more about how Hillary will improve early childhood education here.

Originally published at

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