|WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 30, 2016) — For refugee households, stable child-care arrangements are a key underpinning of working parents’ employment success and family self-sufficiency, and thus an important goal of refugee case management.
Given the well-documented impact of early learning services on children’s school readiness and long-term cognitive, socioemotional, and educational outcomes, access to high-quality, consistent early childhood education and care (ECEC) is critical for those from minority and low-income families — including immigrant and refugee families—who are often at greatest risk of falling behind. Despite these established benefits, studies suggest that young children of immigrants and refugees are much less likely than children of U.S.-born parents to participate in every type of nonparental care: 47 percent versus 65 percent, according to one study.
A new report, Challenges in Accessing Early Childhood Education and Care for Children in Refugee Families in Massachusetts, examines how refugee families in Massachusetts make use of early childhood education and services for their children through the refugee resettlement system and looks at the institutional and systemic challenges that refugee families face in accessing stable, high-quality ECEC options. These challenges include both a complex, multiagency process with unclear lines of institutional responsibility as well as limited mechanisms for collaboration and information sharing across agencies.
In addition, besides cultural and language barriers, the tight time constraints of the resettlement process—which require refugees to enter employment training programs within one to two months of arrival, with the goal of achieving “early employment” within four months—mean that refugee parents have a much shorter timeframe for arranging child care than most other parents.
Based on examination of recent federal initiatives and state-level models, including efforts already underway in Massachusetts, the report offers a set of policy and program recommendations at state and local levels that can help address such challenges and improve access to quality ECEC options for children of refugees.
The report is the latest in a series on young children (ages 0-10) in refugee families, supported by a research grant from the Foundation for Child Development. Earlier reports examined the experiences of young children of refugees in the United States, and the outcomes of the collaboration between Head Start and refugee resettlement programs.
With thanks for your interest in our work,
The Migration Policy Institute is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit think tank in Washington, D.C. dedicated to analysis of the movement of people worldwide. MPI provides analysis, development, and evaluation of migration and refugee policies at the local, national, and international levels. For more on MPI, please visit www.migrationpolicy.org.
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