Immigrant Families: Early Childhood Education in the Wake of Increasing Immigration Enforcement
(Family and Child Policy)
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
Many of these efforts, however, may be stymied by growing anti-immigrant sentiment and the resurgence of localized immigration enforcement policies. These policies create fear and mistrust in immigrant communities and may prevent ECE programs from enrolling and supporting eligible immigrant families, who are already hard to reach. Consequently, children in these communities may struggle more upon entering school.
This panel brings together four papers at the nexus of these two issues—ECE in the wake of increasing immigration enforcement. The first paper lays the foundation for understanding the barriers immigrant parents face in accessing ECE. Providing rich contextual information from over 200 parent and service provider interviews, this study identifies innovative strategies for reducing barriers and increasing immigrant program enrollment. The next paper evaluates the effectiveness of one novel strategy—providing free English as a Second Language classes to immigrant parents. Using a mixed methods approach, the authors find that by providing more holistic services for immigrant families, Head Start programs reduce access barriers and better accommodate children’s schooling.
The next two papers demonstrate how localized immigration enforcement increases ECE barriers and reduces the effectiveness of ECE strategies to reach immigrant families. The third paper focuses on Head Start—nearly a third of enrollees are English language learners—and examines how local level immigration enforcement policies, i.e., 287(g) and successor program, Secure Communities, impact Hispanic enrollment and parent participation nationwide. 287(g) allowed local police to act as immigration enforcers for the first time. This third paper adds to the growing evidence that local immigration enforcement decreases educational/social service use of eligible immigrant families by extending evidence to Head Start programs. The last paper demonstrates how the consequences of localized immigration enforcement extend to the elementary-school years and alter the effectiveness of known immigrant outreach/engagement efforts—hiring teachers who are racially/ethnically representative of their students. The study shows that growing anti-immigrant sentiment and enforcement moderate the effectiveness of this strategy.
This panel will provide educators/policymakers with key insights on how to design effective ECE programs for an extremely vulnerable population of children and families in an era of rising anti-immigrant sentiment. The Chair, Dylan Conger, and Discussants, Krista Perreira & Michael López, are leading experts in the fields of ECE and immigration and will add valuable insights. Additionally, the unique cross-disciplinary perspective (e.g., sociology, public policy/affairs, economics, education) and wide ranging experiences (academics, researchers, and doctoral students) of the panel, as well as the mix of qualitative and quantitative data, will ensure that the full complexity of issues facing early childhood immigrant education are considered.