Immigrant Parents and Early Childhood Programs: Addressing Barriers of Literacy, Culture, and Systems Knowledge

Children and Youth, Education and Literacy, Immigration

Immigrant Parents and Early Childhood Programs: Addressing Barriers of Literacy, Culture, and Systems Knowledge

Immigrant parents face significant barriers as they try to engage with their children's early educational experiences, including greatly restricted access for many due to limited English proficiency and functional literacy. Parental engagement is critical for young children's early cognitive and socioemotional development, and for their participation in programs that are designed to support early learning. Reducing the barriers to parent engagement in early childhood education and care (ECEC) programs would encourage school success, and help many young children of immigrants close the gaps in kindergarten readiness with their native peers.

Recent years have seen a rapid increase in the size and share of the U.S. young-child population with at least one immigrant parent, posing challenges to policymakers and front-line programs in the early childhood arena. These demographic changes are converging with efforts in many states to expand early childhood services and improve their quality. With one in four young children in the United States living in an immigrant family, efforts to build trust and establish meaningful two-way communication with these families is an urgent priority if system expansion efforts are to realize their purpose.

Many programs face difficulties engaging with immigrant and refugee parents who often require support building U.S. cultural and systems knowledge and in overcoming English language and literacy barriers. These difficulties have been exacerbated in recent years as adult basic education and English instruction programs, which early childhood programs such as Head Start had previously relied on to support parents in need of these skills, have been significantly reduced.

Against this backdrop, this report identifies the unique needs of newcomer parents across the range of expectations for parent skill, engagement, and leadership sought by ECEC programs, and strategies undertaken to address these needs. The study is based on field research in six states, expert interviews, a literature review, and a sociodemographic analysis.

June 2014

Geographic Focus: North America-United States

Family Engagement and Education: A Research Scan and Recommendations

Education and Literacy, Parenting and Families, Poverty

Family Engagement and Education: A Research Scan and Recommendations

In September 2012, The Heinz Endowments asked the Annenberg Institute for School Reform (AISR) at Brown University to conduct a research scan of family engagement, leadership, and organizing work related to education happening in Pittsburgh, as a part of the Endowments' larger work in supporting families as important stakeholders in their children's education.

Annenberg's goal was to produce a well-researched scan and analysis of the family engagement and organizing for school reform landscape in Pittsburgh and to provide recommendations for viable funding strategies to support family engagement and organizing capacity building.

Research questions for the scan included:

1. Given the overall context of school reform efforts in Pittsburgh, what are the opportunities and challenges for influence from community-based parent leadership and organizing?

2. What community-based organizations with a current or potential focus on equitable education reform exist in Pittsburgh?

3. What is the capacity of each organization to engage in parent/family leadership and organizing work to influence school reform?

All of the work completed for this report was done from September 2012 through April 2013. More specifically, data was collected from November 2012 through February 2013. Thus, new developments and changes related to what is reported here that have occurred since the spring of 2013 are not reflected in our data, findings, analysis, or recommendations.

What follows is an overview of the methodology and conceptual framework driving the design and analysis of our scan research, a detailed summary of what we learned about the landscape for family engagement and leadership in Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS), a scan of current community-based organizations' (CBOs) work and capacity for supporting family engagement and leadership, and recommendations of potential strategies for cultivating family engagement and education organizing in Pittsburgh.

September 2014

Geographic Focus: North America-United States (Northeastern)-Pennsylvania-Allegheny County-Pittsburgh

Afterschool in Action: Innovative Afterschool Programs Supporting Middle School Youth

Arts and Culture, Education and Literacy, Parenting and Families

Afterschool in Action: Innovative Afterschool Programs Supporting Middle School Youth

This report, released by Afterschool Alliance in partnership with MetLife Foundation, highlights the work of quality afterschool programs that support children, families and communities across the nation.

This compendium is a compilation of four issue briefs examining critical issues facing middle school youth and the vital role afterschool programs play in addressing these issues. This series explores afterschool and: arts enrichment, parent engagement, school improvement and digital learning. The compendium also includes in-depth profiles of the 2012 Afterschool Innovator Award winners, as well as highlights from 2008-2011 award winners.

The 2012 MetLife Foundation Afterschool Award winners are:

  • The Wooden Floor, Santa Ana, CA

  • Latino Arts Strings & Mariachi Juvenil, Milwaukee, WI

  • Kid Power Inc., The VeggieTime Project, Washington, D.C.

  • Parma Learning Center, Parma, ID

  • Green Energy Technologies in the City, Lansing, MI

April 2013

Geographic Focus: North America-United States (Midwestern)-Michigan-Ingham County-Lansing, North America-United States (Southern)-District of Columbia-Washington, North America-United States (Midwestern)-Wisconsin-Milwaukee County-Milwaukee, North America-United States (Western)-California-Orange County-Santa Ana, North America-United States (Western)-Idaho-Canyon County-Parma

Ready, Willing and Able: Kansas City Parents Talk About How to Improve Schools and What They Can Do to Help

Education and Literacy, Parenting and Families

Ready, Willing and Able: Kansas City Parents Talk About How to Improve Schools and What They Can Do to Help

Are parents an untapped resource in improving and reimagining K -- 12 education in Kansas City? What do they think would enhance student learning and what are they willing to do to help their children get the education they deserve? These are among the questions explored in an in-depth survey of 1,566 parents with children now in public school in the Kansas City metropolitan area. This study finds the majority of parents in the Kansas City area ready, willing and able to be more engaged in their children's education at some level. For communities to reap the most benefit from additional parental involvement, it is important to understand that different parents can be involved and seek to be involved in different ways.

The results of this research, detailed in the following pages, show that nearly a third of the region's parents may be ready to take on a greater role in shaping how local schools operate and advocating for reform in K -- 12 education. These parents say they would be very comfortable serving on committees focused on teacher selection and the use of school resources. Their sense of "parental engagement" extends beyond such traditional activities as attending PTA meetings, coaching sports, volunteering for bake sales, chaperoning school trips and seeing that their children are prepared for school each day. Yet, despite their broad interest in a deeper, more substantive involvement in shaping the region's school systems, relatively few of these "potential transformers" have actually participated in policy-oriented activities in the past year.

Moreover, this survey finds that even though the majority of parents seem less inclined to jump into school policy debates, many say they could do more to support local schools in the more traditional school parent roles.

April 2013

Geographic Focus: North America-United States (Midwestern)-Missouri-Platte County, North America-United States (Midwestern)-Missouri-Jackson County-Kansas City, North America-United States (Midwestern)-Missouri-Clay County, North America-United States (Midwestern)-Missouri-Cass County, North America-United States (Midwestern)-Kansas-Wyandotte County-Kansas City

Breaking Down Barriers: An Evaluation of Parent Engagement In School Closures and Co-Locations

Education and Literacy, Parenting and Families

Breaking Down Barriers: An Evaluation of Parent Engagement In School Closures and Co-Locations

The Department of Education's ("Department") decisions to close or co-locate schools frequently involves the loss of critical space and programs, which can have serious impacts on students' education. Historically, in making these decisions the Department has a poor track record of soliciting and incorporating parental and community input. Despite new parental engagement procedures added to the law in 2009 to facilitate greater parental consultation in major school change decisions, this year's story does not seem to be markedly different. The Department treated these hearings as procedural hurdles in order to satisfy the letter of the law, rather than an opportunity to engage in a productive dialogue about the impacts of proposed school closures and co-locations on students and what is in the best interests of affected students.

By examining the New York State Education Law, Educational Impact Statements (EIS), transcripts from public hearings, and by conducting a parent survey of 873 parents at 34 schools affected by co-locations, the report concludes that the Department's parental engagement process provided insufficient information and left too many questions unanswered questions about how students and the school community will be affected by these major school decisions.

The report's key finding is that the EIS -- the official document assessing the impact that a proposed change will have on school services -- does not provide adequate information for members of the school community to understand and comment about how students will be affected by these decisions. This finding is consistent with the courts' recent decision that the school closure process is flawed.

Further, if not well-planned and coordinated, closures and co-locations can disrupt students' education and decrease their access to school facilities such as classrooms, gymnasiums and cafeterias.

July 2010

Geographic Focus: North America-United States (Northeastern)-New York

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