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Exploration of the status of services for immigrant families in early childhood education programs

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Vesely, Colleen & Ginsberg, Mark
Publication Date: 
1 Jun 2011


Immigrants make up at least 15 percent of the population in more than 50 countries. In 2005, "One in every three international migrants lived in Europe and one in every four international migrants lived in North America." At age 3 and 4, children in immigrant families were less likely to be enrolled in preschool than their native-born counterparts. The goal of this study was to add to researchers' and practitioners' understanding of how early childhood education (ECE) programs are currently working with immigrant children and families. Using qualitative case study methodology, including in-depth interviews with teachers, program staff, and parents as well as field observations in ECE programs in the United States and in Eastern Europe, analyses were conducted with respect to how high-quality programs work with immigrant families. Through qualitative analyses, four principles emerged as particularly important for working with immigrant families:

  1. improving quality of and access to ECE programs for immigrant families;
  2. building relationships with immigrant parents and families;
  3. supporting immigrant parents' identity development and representation in their communities; and
  4. fostering staff dynamics, development, and well-being.

Each of these is explored individually in the report, in terms of dynamics as well as recommendations for ECE programs currently working with immigrant families.