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Examining access to and participation in early care and education among children of immigrants

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Children with at least one immigrant parent are one of the fastest growing child populations in the U.S. and they will become an essential part of the future workforce. However, children of immigrants are more likely to fall behind their peers of U.S.-born parents on school readiness skills at kindergarten entry. Despite the positive effects of center-based early care and education (ECE) on children's school readiness, children of immigrants are less likely than children of U.S.-born parents on school readiness skills at kindergarten entry. Despite the positive effects of center-based early care and education (ECE) on children's school readiness, children of immigrants are less likely than children of US.-born parents to attend center-based ECE. Lower center-based ECE participation rates may be a missed opportunity for critical learning among children of immigrants. To understand what contributes to the gap in center-based ECE participation, prior research has largely focused on child and family factors to explain the gap and suggested that family characteristics specifically lower household income, lower parental education levels, and two-parent household with one non-working parent are important predictors of lower enrollment in center-based ECE. However, little is known about how broader community factors, such as child care subsidies and the supply of ECE, affect immigrant parents' child care decisions. Paper 1 uses data from the American Community Survey and state Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) policies from 2009 to 2016 to examine the effects of state CCDF policies related to subsidy generosity and the ease of application on center-based ECE participation among low-income children of immigrants and children of U.S.-born parents. Results suggest that higher initial income eligibility and an easier application process increase the likelihood of using center-based ECE for children of immigrants. Paper 2 uses data from the National Survey of Early Care and Education to examine whether the availability of different types of ECE helps explain the gap in center-based ECE participation between children of immigrants and children of U.S.-born parents. Results indicate that the availability of care providers who are family members, friends, and neighbors is associated with lower center-based ECE participation among 0- to 2-year-olds, while the availability of child care centers is associated with higher center-based ECE participation among 3- to 5-year-olds. However, the supply of ECE does not explain the difference in ECE arrangements. Additionally, the availability of non-English-speaking and publicly funded child care centers are associated with higher center-based ECE participation. Taken together, findings highlight the importance of considering broader community factors in center-based ECE participation among children of immigrants. The dissertation concludes with a discussion of the implications for future research, public policy, and social work practice. (author abstract)

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Reports & Papers
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United States

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