Research Assistant, Social & Economic Policy
There is widespread consensus that high quality pre-kindergarten programs can provide sizable benefits for young children and their families. For Hispanic families, the positive effects of pre-kindergarten on children’s school readiness outcomes appear to be even stronger, write Renee Lamoreau, Michael López, and Todd Grindal in the Huffington Post.
Despite these benefits, prior studies have found that Hispanic children consistently participate in early care and education (ECE) programs at substantially lower rates than their non-Hispanic peers. Some researchers have interpreted these patterns as reflecting either a limited supply of accessible and affordable care, and/or that Hispanic families have a cultural preference for either not placing their children in formalized care or they prefer to use relative care (e.g. grandmother care).
A new study from the National Research Center on Hispanic Children and Families challenges these long-held assumptions about lower ECE participation of Latino families.
Several reasons could explain the divergence from prior research, the researchers write. These reasons include:
- ECE policies and practices in Chicago could be more effective at supporting Latino families; and
- The study draws upon an unprecedentedly rich set of integrated administrative data that provides a more complete picture of the available types of ECE programs. The data also permitted the researchers to account for numerous relevant factors — such as language and parents’ nativity — when examining whether participation in ECE programs differed between Hispanic and non-Hispanic families;
- Chicago’s ECE programs have been successful in serving some of the harder-to-reach Hispanic families.
“Taken together, these efforts suggest that Chicago may serve as an example to other metropolitan areas that struggle to enroll Latino children and families in public ECE programs,” the researchers write. “This study shows that publicly funded ECE programs can overcome some of the commonly encountered challenges and successfully recruit and serve Latino families.”
The researchers conclude that such programs “have a responsibility” to adapt their services to best meet the needs of a large and growing Hispanic population.
Read the full piece in the Huffington Post.