English-Language Learners Report Roundup

Refugee Children

By Corey Mitchell — March 29, 2016 1 min read

The number of newly arrived refugee children enrolled in early-childhood-education programs surged in two cities where Head Start officials and resettlement agencies worked together to help families adjust to their new communities.

A report from the Migration Policy Institute explores how efforts in Syracuse, N.Y., and Phoenix helped early-childhood-education providers respond to the cultural and language needs of refugee children and families.

The Syracuse and Phoenix collaborations yielded larger than expected gains. From 2008 to 2013, refugee enrollment in Syracuse Head Start and Early Head Start programs increased 500 percent and in Phoenix, it doubled.

Both sites are home to refugees from the major populations that resettled in the United States in 2011-12, primarily Burmese Karen and Chin, Bhutanese, Somali, and Iraqi. The enrollment spikes occurred even though overall refugee arrivals in the cities declined during that time. The report offers suggestions for boosting the school readiness of refugee children, including providing information on child care and education services as part of the U.S. Department of State-funded overseas cultural orientation for U.S.-bound refugees.

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A version of this article appeared in the March 30, 2016 edition of Education Week as Refugee Children

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