Policy Choices That Support Providers In Immigrant Communities
Sep 27, 2007
As the young child population is rapidly growing in diversity, the early childhood field is facing a critical shortage of bilingual and bicultural providers. To most appropriately serve young children from immigrant families, the early childhood workforce must be more representative of the children it serves. Additionally, providers of all languages and cultures need training in cultural competency and second language acquisition strategies.
One way to increase the supply of qualified, bilingual and culturally competent early care and education providers is to assist providers from immigrant communities to gain the skills to become licensed child care providers, as well as to provide supports to immigrant providers in order to retain them in the early childhood field and to encourage further professionalization and credentialing. Targeted outreach and supports can help providers access professional development and higher education, which is essential to increase and sustain the diversity of the early childhood workforce.
A variety of policies are necessary to support immigrant providers with a wide range of educational backgrounds and levels of English proficiency. While some individuals need access to ESL classes and basic GED education, others have extensive training, education, and experience working in early childhood education in their home countries and just need their credentials to be recognized and validated in the US.
CLASP has created a checklist of selected policies that support immigrant providers, particularly those with limited English proficiency. This tool offers strategies and examples for improving policies in the following areas:
- State or local agencies have language access plans for language minority communities in their area.
- Immigrant providers have meaningful access to the licensing process.
- Licensors receive cultural competency training.
- Child care resource and referral agencies include bilingual staff.
- Enrollment for federal and state programs is streamlined and supports language access.
Training and Professional Development
- Higher education/training includes principles of cultural competence.
- State or local child care agencies partner with community-based organization and institutions of higher education to offer culturally and linguistically appropriate trainings for providers in multiple languages.
- Professional development ladders/lattices include community based training in multiple languages, awareness of home country training and financial supports including scholarships and incentives.
- State and local agencies promote community-based networks of immigrant and language minority providers.
- Multiple strategies are used to conduct targeted outreach to immigrant providers.
- Training on early learning guidelines supports cultural diversity and representation.
For further reading on the responsiveness of early childhood settings, including strategies for increasing the pool of qualified bilingual and culturally competent providers, see CLASP's recent report, The Challenges of Change, including our policy recommendations.