New Project Focuses on Young Children in Black Immigrant Families

Nov 27, 2012

By Emily Firgens

Providing effective, high-quality, comprehensive early childhood services require that we understand the country's diverse population of young children and families. For example, in the U.S. there are 1.3 million children in black immigrant families-many from Africa or the Caribbean-that account for 11 percent of all black children in America.  These children tend to participate in child care and early education during their preschool years at relatively high rates, providing an opportunity to engage with families, address specific needs of black immigrant children, and improve their life outcomes.

A new project from the Migration Policy Institute's (MPI) National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy examines the well-being and development of black immigrant children from birth to age 10. The project's reports have identified both strengths of black immigrant families and children, as well as potential areas of risk.  For example, more than half of young children living in black immigrant families are low income, and young children in black immigrant families experience relatively higher rates of child obesity.

One of the project's reports, Patterns and Predictors of School Readiness and Early Childhood Success Among Young Children in Black Immigrant Families, finds several positive outcomes for black immigrant children, including high rates of marriage, high rates of parental education and employment, good health, strong English proficiency, and strong parental support for education. Eighty-seven percent of young children from black immigrant families from the Caribbean and 71 percent of young children from black immigrant families from Africa participate in center-based child care prior to kindergarten. The MPI report recommends that child care and early education programs serving black immigrant children should be evaluated for quality and effectiveness, as well as used to further promote parent engagement in education.

As communities work to offer culturally competent child care and early education to young children from immigrant families, CLASP's resources on cultural competency provide information on how to help immigrant families access high-quality care, as well as how to develop policies that promote child care for culturally and linguistically diverse children and families. One example is to use quality rating and improvement systems (QRIS) to develop standards that are inclusive of children and families from all backgrounds.

MPI has released seven reports through its Young Children in Black Immigrant Families project, which began last spring. The reports focus on a range of topics from parenting behavior in black immigrant families, to the effects of ethnicity and foreign-born status on infant health.  MPI's extensive look into the well-being and development of children in this population is an important step in better understanding how best to serve and reach out to black immigrant families and young children.

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