One in Four Asian Children in New York City Is Poor

By Mary Ann Zehr — February 26, 2009 1 min read
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Many of you who have had English-language learners from Asian families in your classrooms know that some of these children don’t fit the stereotype that some Americans have of them of primarily coming from well-educated families whose parents work in high-tech jobs or at universities. But a report released today by the Asian American Federation based on U.S. Census data has some statistics that you may not have heard about the extent of poverty among Asian children in New York City.

The report, “Working but Poor: Asian American Poverty in New York City,” says that about one-fourth of Asian children in the city are poor and many have parents who aren’t proficient in English.

Child poverty for Asians in the city is growing while it has decreased slightly for children on average and also has dropped slightly for children in all other major racial and ethnic groups in the city. The report says the child poverty rate for Asians increased to 25.6 percent from 22.6 percent from 2000 to 2006.

Nearly a third of poor school-age Asian children in the Big Apple are English-language learners. Almost half of poor Asian children live in homes where no adults speak English well or no adults speak only English.

One policy recommendation of the report is for immigrant communities to have more programs for youth development and to extend schooling. I’ve visited one organization in the city that provides that kind of support for immigrant youth who are South Asian. It’s called South Asian Youth Action and on the day I visited, it hosted a forum for immigrant teens to hear from successful Asian young adults how they had gone to college and gotten good jobs. The forum took place in the neighborhood where the teens lived, which I think is important.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.