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

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Abstract:

Children from immigrant families are the fastest growing group of children in the United States, and nearly all young children of immigrants living in the United States are U.S. citizens. High-quality child care and early education opportunities will be critical to these children's success in school and in life. Yet, the early experiences of children in immigrant families are as diverse and varied as immigrant families themselves. While many immigrant families face numerous barriers to accessing high-quality child care and early education for their young children, these barriers are not insurmountable. Unique solutions to improving access for immigrant families are already emerging in local communities and in state policies.

Reaching all children of immigrants, and successfully including them in child care and early education initiatives, will require specific strategies and collaborations among providers, policymakers, and immigrant-serving organizations. Above all, it will require understanding and respecting the needs and preferences of diverse families. Meeting the needs of the growing population of young children of immigrants presents a challenge for the early childhood field. It is a challenge, however, that is essential to meet. If children of immigrant families are given opportunities to participate, and if programs reflect their experiences, the linguistic and cultural diversity that these children offer will ultimately enrich the early childhood experiences of all children.