Barriers and Opportunities: Helping Smaller Immigrant Communities Access the Illinois Preschool for All Program. Summary Findings from Three StudiesReport as inadecuate

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Urban Institute

State prekindergarten initiatives can only succeed if they actually reach at-risk children. This brief summarizes findings from three studies conducted by the Urban Institute. Two studies supported by the McCormick and Joyce Foundations focused on whether smaller immigrant communities in metro Chicago face access barriers to enrolling their children in Preschool for All (PFA); and a follow-up study supported by the McCormick Foundation examined whether community-based organizations providing non-early childhood services to these communities could help address these barriers. these studies involved focus groups with Pakistani, Nigerian, Vietnamese, Polish, and Haitian families, and interviews with PFA providers and intermediary community-based organizations (CBOs) serving immigrant families. Some of the key findings were: (1) within and across these five groups, there was wide variation across every dimension--including race/ethnicity, language, length of time in the country, family composition, population size, parental work status, and other key characteristics; (2) parents varied widely in their knowledge about PFA or early childhood programs, though many parents were not familiar with the program. PFA programs reported little outreach to smaller immigrant groups; (3) parents valued early care and education to varying degrees--some strongly supporting it and others less familiar with it; and (4) parent's experiences and challenges differed depending on whether their children were enrolled in school-based settings or in community-based settings. These studies suggest that families from lower-incidence immigrant groups face barriers in learning about and accessing PFA services. The findings also suggest that trusted intermediaries, such as community-based organizations serving smaller immigrant groups, can play a valuable role in supporting participation. (Contains 1 footnote.)

Descriptors: Preschool Education, Preschool Children, Access to Education, Educational Opportunities, Immigrants, Outreach Programs, Focus Groups, Participation, Educational Assessment, Educational Indicators, Incidence, Community Organizations, Change Strategies, Cultural Influences, State Programs, Performance Factors, Polish, Vietnamese, Haitians, Parents, Interviews

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Author: Adams, Gina; McDaniel, Marla


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