In Focus: Cultural Competency

Apr 21, 2016  |  PERMALINK »

Supreme Court Hears Arguments in U.S. v. Texas Immigration Case: Why Poverty and Early Childhood Advocates Should Care

On Monday, April 18, the Supreme Court heard arguments in a case that directly affects millions of families and children.  In United States v. Texas, the Court will determine whether or not immigration actions announced by the Obama administration in 2014, known as the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and the expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programs, will be implemented.

These executive actions would defer deportation and authorize work for eligible immigrant parents of about 5 million U.S. citizen children and others with long-term ties to the country. Legal challenges pursued by Texas and 25 other states have resulted in a hold on implementation of DAPA and expanded DACA. As CLASP and 75 other organizations representing the interests of children have pointed out in an amicus (friend-of-the-court) brief, the research evidence indicates that allowing these programs to go forward will stabilize families and stop endangering their children’s overall well-being, educational attainment, and future economic success by removing the threat of a parent’s deportation.

These initiatives would change the lives of countless families across the United States, many of whom have U.S. citizen children under the age of five. These children do not live in isolation. They will live and grow up in communities where their individual success is critical to the strength of our country’s future workforce and our collective economic security. It is important to America’s future to do everything we can as a nation so that these citizen children succeed – and at the very least, stop putting their healthy development and education at risk by destabilizing their families.

A large and growing body of research has exposed the harm that children experience as a result of their parents’ unauthorized status due to ongoing family economic hardship as well as risks to their social-emotional and cognitive development. Children of unauthorized immigrants are also more likely than their peers to live in poverty, which has long-lasting negative implications for their healthy development. For parents, the fear of detention or deportation can cause high levels of stress and social isolation, which have negative impacts on caregiving and contribute to negative child outcomes. For instance, studies have shown that children who did not see their parents for more than a month experienced irregular sleeping habits, more anger, and withdrawal, absences from school, and drops in academic achievement.

Because of these high stakes, the joint amicus brief filed in March detailed the potentially devastating consequences for the Supreme Court justices to consider as they deliberate this case.  Beyond the powerful legal case for the President’s Executive Action, the amicus brief argues the Supreme Court should take into account the crucial stake that this case has in stabilizing the families of citizen children.  If the Court upholds the President’s action, it will be acting to promote the nation’s future success, by reducing parent and child stress caused by fear of detention, deportation, and separation and allowing eligible youth and families to come forward, pursue better economic opportunities, and access educational and other resources for themselves and their children. At the core of the case is an opportunity to support child well-being and family economic security and ensure that millions of families benefit from increased access to opportunity. That’s why everybody who cares about the country’s future success—advocates, policymakers, business and civic leaders, educators—should care deeply about the decision facing the Supreme Court, whether to uphold the President’s actions and provide stability to millions of young Americans and their immigrant parents. 

Mar 9, 2016  |  PERMALINK »

Supreme Court Should Allow Executive Action on Immigration to Go Forward in the Interest of Millions of Children

By Christina Walker and Hannah Matthews

On March 8, an amicus (friend-of-the-court) brief was filed in the U.S. Supreme Court, on behalf of 76 children’s and educator organizations committed to safeguarding the healthy development, educational opportunities, emotional well-being, and economic stability of all children in the United States. CLASP, along with the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Federation of Teachers, First Focus, the National Association of Social Workers, and the National Education Association, led the development of this brief that argues the Court should lift the current injunction preventing implementation of President Obama’s executive action on immigration, known as the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) and the expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programs. This could stabilize families and provide an opportunity to enhance their children’s overall well-being, educational attainment, and future economic success by removing the threat of deportation for millions of parents of U.S. citizen children.

In November 2014, President Obama announced his executive action plan to defer deportation and authorize work for up to 5 million unauthorized immigrants, including an estimated 3.5 million parents with U.S. citizen children. Legal challenges pursued by Texas and 25 other states have resulted in a hold on implementation of DAPA and expanded DACA. Next month, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case, United States v. Texas, with a decision expected in June.

The implications of the Supreme Court’s decision will be far reaching. More than 5 million children in the United States have at least one unauthorized immigrant parent (about 7 percent of the total child population). Approximately one-third of these children are under the age of five. The vast majority of these 5 million children—79 percent—are citizens, and another 2 percent have legal status. These children will live and grow up in the U.S. Their educational, health, and economic outcomes are not only important for their individual success but also will determine the strength of our country’s future workforce and our collective economic security.

There may be no greater trauma for children than separation from their parents. The implications for young children in particular are great, as they are physically, emotionally, and economically dependent on their parents. A large and growing body of research is uncovering the harm that children experience as a result of their parents’ unauthorized status, including family economic hardship and risks to their emotional security and cognitive development. For parents, the fear of detention or deportation can cause high levels of stress and social isolation, which have negative impacts on caregiving and contribute to negative child outcomes. Children of unauthorized immigrants are also more likely than their peers to live in poverty, which has long-lasting negative implications for their healthy development.

DAPA and expanded DACA provide a tremendous opportunity to reduce parent and child stress caused by fear of detention, deportation, and separation and to allow eligible youth and families to come out of the shadows, pursue better economic opportunities and access educational and other resources for themselves and their children, including early childhood services. Thus, DAPA and the expanded DACA program have the potential to improve the educational, health, and economic outcomes of millions of children whose success is vitally important to the future of the United States.

Read the amicus brief >>

Learn more about U.S. v. Texas >>

Learn more about DAPA and expanded DACA >>

Feb 16, 2016  |  PERMALINK »

New CLASP Analysis Highlights Disparate Access to CCDBG and Head Start by Race, Ethnicity

By Christina Walker and Stephanie Schmit

According to new CLASP analysis, access to the core federal early childhood programs—the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), Head Start, and Early Head Start (EHS)—is not only sharply limited for all eligible children but especially limited in particular states and for particular racial and ethnic groups. Most striking, in part because of constrained federal budget resources, is the low level of access that Hispanic/Latino children have to CCDBG, especially in fast-growing states. The report is a unique analysis of participation of eligible children in these programs by race/ethnicity and state.

Nationally, too few eligible children, regardless of background, are served by these important programs that help low-income children and parents access early childhood programs and progress economically. Federal and state investments severely limit access to high-quality child care and early education for many children. And for groups of children in particular states, access is extremely limited. Near flat funding or minimal increases perpetuate inequities, as there is no way to increase access for one group without reducing access for another. Fewer than half of eligible preschool-aged children are able to participate in Head Start, fewer than one in six children receive child care assistance, and fewer than 5 percent of infants and toddlers participate in EHS. Yet, CLASP analysis shows that for some children—and in particular states—the likelihood of accessing these programs is even lower.

CLASP finds:

  • While only half of eligible children are served, participation nationally in Head Start preschool did not differ dramatically for all racial and ethnic groups analyzed (54 percent for eligible Black children and 38 percent for eligible Hispanic/Latino children, not including children served in the separately administered Migrant and Seasonal Head Start program). The history of Head Start’s grounding in the civil rights movement and its federal-to-local structure suggest that targeting underserved racial and ethnic communities can in fact improve access for minority communities.
  • CCDBG provided lower levels of access for all children as well as sharply less access for eligible Hispanic/Latino children. Compared to 13 percent of all eligible children ages 0-13 and 21 percent of eligible Black children ages 0-13, only 8 percent of eligible Hispanic/Latino children are served. Because of the large number of state policies that impact access to subsidies, it is possible that state decisions make particular groups of children more or less likely to obtain child care assistance.
  • No more than 6 percent of eligible children in any racial/ethnic group has access to Early Head Start. This universally low percent is driven by the size of the federal investment in EHS.

State-level differences in access by eligible children to the Head Start, EHS, and CCDBG are also striking:

  • Hispanic/Latino infants and toddlers’ access to EHS ranges from 1 percent in Georgia to 16 percent in Nebraska. Asian infant and toddlers’ access ranges from less than 1 percent in Georgia to 9 percent in Minnesota.
  • For Black children, the share served in CCDBG ranges from 3 percent in Maine to 42 percent in Pennsylvania. For Hispanic/Latino children, the share ranges from 1 percent in Mississippi to 20 percent in New Mexico.
  • The share of Hispanic/Latino children served in Head Start preschool (not including the migrant program) ranges from 13 percent in South Carolina to 84 percent in Minnesota.

While more analysis is needed to fully understand the causes of differential access across racial and ethnic groups, the brief offers some hypotheses and insights. Stagnant federal funding and outdated funding formulas prevent states with growing or diversifying child populations to target new resources to underserved communities. State-level decision making in CCDBG may result in state policies that contribute to inequities in access.

This analysis cannot answer all of the questions it raises but is intended to begin a conversation about how to ensure equal access to critical early childhood programs across low-income communities of all backgrounds, as well as how to ensure that all children participating in CCDBG and Head Start benefit from access to quality services. We include a number of areas for potential next steps to improve available data and explore and uncover the causes of differential access. Increased federal and state investments are core to ensuring that more children benefit from CCDBG and Head Start; however, an intentional focus is necessary to reduce differences in access across racial/ethnic communities and to better understand disparate impacts of access on communities of color.

View CLASP analysis of access to CCDBG and Head Start by race and ethnicity>>


 

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