Preschool Trends for Children of Immigrants

By Mary Ann Zehr — April 29, 2009 1 min read

It doesn’t surprise me that a new research brief says children of immigrants (ages 3 or 4) aren’t as likely as children of native-born families to attend preschool in the United States. It fits with the trend that I’ve noted twice recently on this blog that Hispanic children are less likely to be enrolled in early-childhood programs than children of other racial and ethnic groups. After all, many immigrants are Hispanic. (Find a summary of the brief here.)

But what is surprising is that in 12 states, 3- and 4-year-olds in immigrant families are about as likely, or more likely, to be enrolled in school, according to the research brief, which was published by Child Trends and the Center for Social and Demographic Analysis at the University of Albany.

Those 12 states are Connecticut, Delaware, Kentucky, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Vermont, and West Virginia.

What is going on in those states that enrollment for children of immigrants is strong?

The research brief doesn’t say directly. But it does point out that the states with the biggest disparity between children of immigrants attending preschool and children of native-born families all have high proportions of immigrant families who come from Mexico. Those states with the biggest disparity, 10 percent or more, are Arizona, California, Illinois, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Texas.

The brief adds that “socioeconomic barriers can account for at least half and perhaps the entire enrollment gap separating children in newcomer families from Mexico ... and white children in nonimmigrant families.”

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

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