Immigrant Parents and Early Childhood Programs
Posted by Migration Policy Institute on June 16, 2014
Immigrant Parents and Early Childhood Programs: Addressing Barriers of Literacy, Culture, and Systems Knowledge
A new report from the Migration Policy Institute identifies the unique needs of immigrant parents across a range of expectations for parent skills and engagement in early childhood education and care programs, and strategies to address these needs. Children of immigrants are more than 25 percent of the total U.S. population aged 8 and under. The foreign-born parents of these children, who make up 21 percent of parents of young children overall, face challenges that impede access and meaningful participation in family-engagement programs and activities. Forty-five percent are low-income, and 47 percent have limited English proficiency (LEP). Currently, no public funding explicitly supports language, cultural access, or other immigrant family-specific needs in parent-engagement programming. The report recommends expanding parent education, literacy, and English-language programs: The federal Preschool for All initiative can be leveraged to include comprehensive and purposeful engagement strategies for low-literate and LEP parents — both immigrant and native-born — as part of state expansion of universal pre-K programs. These efforts can be bolstered by the creation of data systems that collect and share pertinent parent information — e.g., family home language and parents’ English proficiency (speaking, writing, reading), disaggregated by subgroup. The report also calls for a federal study to determine language and cultural barriers that impede access to federally supported early childhood and K-3 services.
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