Breaking Down Barriers National Summit
Dec 20, 2007
Improving Access to Early Care and Education for Immigrant Families
December 4-5, 2007
The University of Chicago Gleacher Center
On December 4 and 5th, 75 policymakers, advocates, and researchers convened in Chicago, Illinois for CLASP's Breaking Down Barriers National Summit on Improving Access to Early Care and Education for Immigrant Families. With funding from the Joyce Foundation and the McCormick Tribune Foundation, CLASP brought together this diverse group of actors to explore how state policies can support immigrant families and to strategize policy solutions to improve access to high-quality early care and education for immigrant families.
Collectively, summit participants represented 24 states and included representatives from 14 state child care and early education agencies, national policy and advocacy organizations, and state and local immigrant serving organizations representing diverse communities. State agencies represented included State Departments of Education, Departments of Human Services, Public Welfare, Children and Youth Services, and Offices of Child Care and Early Education. Many summit participants commented on the value of participating in a meeting with a diverse group of actors and the rare opportunity that it created to forge new partnerships and learn from each other.
The opening panel set the stage for the summit through presentations by a number of speakers highlighting the importance of coming together around the issue of access to early care and education for immigrant families:
- Danielle Ewen of the Center for Law and Social Policy welcomed participants and started the day by highlighting several key points, including that 93 percent of children of immigrants are citizen children and that young children under six in immigrant families are the fastest growing group of young children. She highlighted the changing demographics of the United States, noting that every state has become a receiving state for immigrant families, and encouraged participants to use the Summit to gather ideas to help create state policies that are thoughtful and inclusive of young children in immigrant families.
- Professor Donald Hernandez from the University at Albany, SUNY began with a presentation of compelling demographic information on immigrant families with children. Don s data show the dramatic demographic shifts taking place in communities and states across the country and highlight the risk factors that many immigrant families face. He also let participants know about a new data tool, which provides detailed information on immigrant children and their families at the level of cities and counties. View Presentation.
- Yvette Sanchez from the National Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Association showed a video documenting the hardships endured by children of migrant laborers who are working in agriculture fields and spoke about the experiences of immigrant families and the importance of supporting high quality services for children of migrant and seasonal farm workers. View Handout.
- Carla Thompson of the Pennsylvania Departments of Education and Public Welfare highlighted several actions her state is taking to understand their current policies and their impact on young children in immigrant families. Participants heard about Pennsylvania s use of the Annie E. Casey Foundation's Race Matters Tool Kit, as well as improving professional development, collecting data and working to ensure that the state is providing fair and consistent services across the board.
- Representative Lisa Hernandez of the 24th district in Illinois spoke about the importance of state policymakers supporting access to high-quality child care and early education for immigrant families and discussed several recent changes in Illinois to improve access and quality for immigrant families.
The summit was organized around two major themes: outreach to immigrant families and the professional development needs of the early childhood field. On the first day of the summit, plenaries focused on these themes. In the afternoon, summit participants broke into small groups for further discussions around these two themes of the day.
Supporting Successful Outreach: Speakers encouraged the audience to think broadly about outreach strategies for diverse immigrant communities, recognizing that there are no one-size-fits-all solutions for improving access:
- Clara Perez-Mendez of Puentes Culturales (Boulder, CO) spoke about the importance of using trusted messengers, or cultural mediators, to reach families. View presentation.
- Jesse Kao Lee of Ready for K (St. Paul, MN) coordinates the Hmong Project at Ready 4K, which empowers the Hmong community to ensure that all children start kindergarten fully ready for success. Jesse spoke about community outreach strategies that have been successful in the Hmong community, including leadership development and the use of media for outreach. View presentation.
- Gepsie Metellus of Sant La Haitian Neighborhood Center (Miami, FL) spoke about effective outreach and education strategies in the Haitian community. She highlighted the importance of using ethnic media, community-based outreach, including working with neighborhood partners and attending community events, appropriately translated materials and face to face communications. View handout.
- Maricela Garcia of Latinos United (Chicago, IL) spoke about the efforts of the Latino community in Illinois working to remove the barriers to high-quality early care and education for Latino immigrants. She stressed the importance of having staff who reflect the communities served, the use of ethnic media, as well as the lack of facilities in some neighborhoods to provide services to immigrant families.
Listen to a recording of this panel in streaming audio.
Professional Development Policies That Address Immigrant Providers and Communities: This panel focused on two major themes: the great need for professional development for the current and former early childhood workforce to successfully work with diverse immigrant families, as well as the need to increase the supply of multilingual and culturally competent early childhood workforce by supporting professional development of providers from immigrant communities:
- Aisha Ray of the Erikson Institute (Chicago, IL) began with a presentation on the need for increased attention to diverse children within early childhood teacher preparation programs.
- Lisa Holstrom of the University of Cincinnati (Cincinnati, OH) shared the successes of the university s on-line associate degree program for early childhood providers, which includes a significant student support network. Through an Office of Head Start grant, coursework has been translated into Spanish. View presentation.
- Wendy Luk, former Director of Family Childcare at the Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center (BCNC), spoke about the importance of training, technical assistance and support for providers wanting to become licensed childcare providers. The Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center supports the only Chinese family child care system in Massachusetts. View presentation.
- Sabrina Zarco of Welcome the Children Project (North Little Rock, AR) trains early childhood professionals on issues related to culture and diversity statewide. She discussed the importance of addressing cultural competency in all aspects of early childhood programs. View handout.
Listen to a recording of this panel in streaming audio.
A highlight of the first day of the summit was a presentation by Grace Hou, Assistant Secretary of the Illinois Department of Human Services, who spoke about the importance of addressing immigrant issues within human services agencies. She shared the successes and goals of Illinois in this area. View presentation.
Listen to a recording of Grace Hou's presentation in streaming audio.
The second day of the summit focused on state policies. Participants began the morning in small and large group discussions to identify challenges and strategies to facilitate access to early care and education for immigrant families. CLASP created a planning document for state policymakers to frame the discussions. Critical issues that were discussed included data collection, outreach to immigrant serving organizations, and language access.
The closing panel, Successful State Policies and Strategies, continued the focus on state policy solutions with the following presentations:
- Gina Adams of the Urban Institute spoke about how child care subsidy policies can help immigrant families with young children access child care, and how they can have a chilling or a welcoming effect. View presentation.
- Pilar Torres of Centro Familia in Silver Spring, MD, spoke about the importance of career ladders and professional development continuums for meeting the needs of immigrant communities. View presentation.
- Miriam Calderon of the National Council of La Raza spoke about the need for positive action at the state and federal level to protect young children in immigrant families. She highlighted several initiatives and opportunities to work to improve early care and education for Hispanic children, including partnerships with schools and with state and local policymakers.
Throughout the meeting, several key themes emerged. While speakers took a systems approach to improving access to quality early care and education programs, it was clear that individual programs such as the child care subsidy program, state pre-kindergarten programs, Head Start and Early Head Start, and state licensing agencies each have both strategies to share and lessons to learn. To translate these learnings, participants all highlighted the importance of an intentional approach to policymaking, using state and privately supported systems building initiatives to move an agenda for young children from immigrant families forward. These discussions highlighted the importance of partnerships and relationships at every level.
Participants also highlighted the importance of collecting and using data, both to help identify demographic shifts and to understand the real needs and choices made by immigrant families. While many speakers discussed nationally and locally funded research, it was clear that there are many unanswered questions about how to best serve young children in immigrant families and how to help these families identify and participate in quality early care and education programs.
CLASP is extremely grateful for the time and efforts of all the summit speakers and participants and for the thought-provoking discussions that took place. We look forward to continuing this work in partnership with others.
Resources from CLASP:
- The Challenges of Change: Learning from the Child Care and Early Education Experiences of Immigrant Families
- CCDBG State Plan Reported Activities to Support Limited English Proficient and Immigrant Communities
- Improving Access to Child Care and Early Education for Immigrant Families: A State Policy Checklist
- Selected State and Local Policies to Support Immigrant and Limited English Proficient (LEP) Early Care and Education Providers
- Reaching All Children? Understanding Early Care and Education Participation Among Immigrant Families
- Breaking Down Barriers: Immigrant Families and Early Childhood Education in New York City (Coalition for Asian American Children and Families)
- Crosswalks project Website
- Children in Newcomer and Native Families (state and local data)
- Overview of Immigrant Eligibility for Federal Programs (National Immigration Law Center)
- Guide to Immigrant Eligibiilty for Federal Child Care (National Immigration Law Center)
- Use of Social Security Numbers under CCDF and the Privacy Act of 1974 (Administration for Children and Families)
- Clarification of "Federal Public Benefit" (Administration for Children and Families)
- More Information Sharing and Program Review by HHS Could Enhance Access for Families with Limited English Proficiency (US Government Accountability Office)
- Paying the Price: The Impact of Immigration Raids on America s Children (National Council of La Raza and Urban Institute)
- Effective Outreach Strategies in the Haitian/Haitian-American Community of Miami Dade (Sant La)
- Children in the Fields: An American Problem(Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs)
- The Health and Well-Being of Young Children of Immigrants (Urban Institute)
Tuesday, December 4
9:15-10:30am Introductory Panel: Setting the Stage
Danielle Ewen, Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)
Yvette Sanchez, National Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Association Handout
Donald Hernandez, University at Albany, SUNY Presentation
Carla Thompson, Pennsylvania Departments of Education and Public Welfare
Representative Lisa Hernandez, Illinois 24th District
10:30-11:45am Supporting Successful Outreach
Clara Perez-Mendez, Puentes Culturales / El Grupo de Familias, Boulder, Colorado Handout
Jesse Kao Lee, Ready 4 K, St. Paul, Minnesota Presentation
Gepsie Metellus, Sant La Haitian Neighborhood Center, Miami, Florida Handout
Maricela Garcia, Latinos United, Chicago, Illinois
11:45-12:15 Addressing Immigrant Issues in a Human Services Context
1:15-2:30pm Professional Development Policies That Address Immigrant Providers and Communities
Aisha Ray, Erikson Institute, Chicago, Illinois
Lisa Holstrom, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio Presentation
Sabrina Zarco, Welcome the Children Project, North Little Rock, Arkansas Handout
Wendy Luk, Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center, Boston, Massachusetts Presentation
2:30-3:30pm Breakout Facilitated Dialogue Session
Session 3: Professional Development
Facilitator: Hannah Matthews, CLASP, Washington, DC
Presenters: Sabrina Zarco and Tanya Miller, Welcome the Children Project, North Little Rock, Arkansas
3:45-4:45pm Breakout Facilitated Dialogue Session (Repeat)
4:45-5:00pm Reconvene, Reflect, Reenergize
Danielle Ewen, CLASP
Wednesday, December 5
8:30-9:45am Breakout Facilitated Planning Session
10:00-11:15am Successful State Policies and Strategies