Panel Paper: Early Care and Education Participation Among Children of Immigrants

Friday, November 9, 2018
Hoover - Mezz Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Erica Greenberg, Gina Adams and Victoria Rosenboom, Urban Institute

Our study employs quantitative description and statistical analyses using the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study—Kindergarten Cohort: 2011 (ECLS-K:2011) as a primary data source. We use the ECLS-K:2011 to examine the characteristics of young children of immigrants and their enrollment in early care and education (ECE). Specifically, we focus on children from low-income immigrant families and their participation in ECE programs most likely to improve their short- and long-term outcomes (including state pre-kindergarten and Head Start).

We address three key research questions:

  1. What are the demographics of children of immigrants entering kindergarten in fall 2010?
  2. What are the patterns of early care and education participation for children of immigrants in the year prior to kindergarten entry?
  3. What are the implications of these findings for federal, state, and local policies related to program access and quality, along with local ECE markets?

To address the first question, we summarize the characteristics of all children of immigrants in first wave of the ECLS-K:2011, including their demographic features, indicators of socioeconomic status, family structure, language proficiency, and parents’ educational attainment and work status. When possible, we compare basic characteristics of children in the ECLS-K:2011 with those in census-type sources, noting that our primary data source represents all children in kindergarten in 2010-2011 rather than all children in a single age cohort.

Our second research question calls for descriptive and comparative analyses. Here, we focus on low-income children of immigrants, for whom public ECE investments can make an important difference in readiness for school and later productivity. Specifically, we compare participation in ECE among children of low-income immigrant families with that of low-income US-born parents and higher-income immigrants to illuminate disparities in early enrichment. We disaggregate findings by immigrant group and ECE program type, paying closest attention to programs with demonstrated effectiveness. We also examine differences in immigrant families’ enrollment by parents’ region of origin, English proficiency, household income, and features of the preschool experience (i.e., caregiver language and half- or full-day schedules) found to be salient to immigrant families. Finally, we describe children’s academic performance at kindergarten entry, examining associations between program type and performance in cognitive and non-cognitive domains.

To address our third research question, we consider implications of the demographic and ECE participation patterns observed earlier in the study. We highlight the potential negative consequences of under-enrollment for children of immigrants given literature on the effectiveness of ECE programs. We also consider new strategies for outreach and inclusion tailored to current federal, state, and local policy contexts, along with local ECE markets.