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The Challenges of Change:
Learning from the Child Care and Early Education Experiences of Immigrant Families

Conducted by: Hannah Matthews and Deeana Jang, Center for Law and Social Policy, Washington, DC, www.clasp.org
Released: May 2007 (PDF)

The Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) conducted site visits to nine communities in eight states (Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, New York, Oklahoma) to learn about the challenges and barriers that immigrant families face in accessing child care and early education. This study explores three main questions:

  1. What do we know about the participation of young children of immigrants in child care and early education settings (including Head Start, child care, preschool and pre-kindergarten)?
  2. What are some of the barriers and challenges immigrant families face in accessing child care and early education?
  3. What can policymakers and advocates at the local, state, and federal levels do to improve access to high-quality child care and early education for young children in immigrant families?

The report outlines findings in three key areas: awareness, accessibility and responsiveness. Strategies are included to help families overcome barriers and to structure programs to serve immigrant families better. The report concludes with recommendations for policymakers, advocates, researchers and private funders.

Key Findings:

  • Awareness: Immigrant families are often unaware of child care and early education programs and services, including licensed child care, state pre-kindergarten and Head Start programs, and child care subsidies.
  • Accessibility: Many child care and early education programs are unavailable to or inaccessible for immigrant families.
  • Responsiveness: High quality child care and early education must be responsive to the diverse needs of young children of immigrants and their families, including access to: bilingual/bicultural providers; training in cultural competency and second-language acquisition; and curricula that explicitly addresses the needs of second-language learners.

Recommendations:

  1. Promote coordination and collaboration between the child care and early education community and the immigrant-and refugee-serving community.
  2. Design child care and early education programs and policies that intentionally address the needs of immigrant families with young children.
  3. Strengthen child care and early education systems to improve and expand access to high-quality services for young children in immigrant families.
  4. Build the linguistic and cultural competency of state and local child care and early education agencies and programs.

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