CT Voices for Children: 1 in 4 Connecticut children is part of an immigrant family and they need help

Back • Publication Date: June 28, 2022 • Education & Employment

The report, “The State of Early Childhood: Equity of Access for Immigrants and Refugees,” notes that one in 3.5 children was part of an immigrant family in Connecticut in 2019.

The report notes that children in immigrant families are more likely to live in poverty (about 1 in 3) than their peers (about 1 in 5).

CVC executive director Emily Byrne and the report’s authors stressed the importance of access to early care and education during a press conference on Tuesday.

“As a state and country, early childhood education and care is clearly among the kitchen table conversations,” Byrne said. “It’s important to the success of children, and yet there is not enough of it. It’s expensive for families and yet providers are underpaid. And it’s essential infrastructure for our economy, but it’s not resourced as such.”

Byrne said her organization has published its report annually since 2003 “because we know the import and impact of [early care and education] for children, particularly children of color and the economy, particularly the participation of women and women of color in the workforce.”

However, the report’s authors painted a picture of declining opportunities, access and availability for early care and education for immigrant and refugee families.

Specifically, the CVC noted the number of licensed family child care homes has decreased in recent years, and the state’s number of licensed early care and education centers dropped sharply by 173 centers, or 12.4%, between 2021 and 2022. The number of licensed family care centers dropped by 20 homes, or 1%, during that same period, continuing a steady decline over the past 20 years, according to Dr. Lauren Ruth, CT Voices research and policy director.

Further, between 2021 and 2022, the number of infant and toddler slots available declined by 1,770 at licensed and exempt centers and care homes, and by 284 spaces at accredited care facilities, Ruth said. The number of preschool slots fell by 2,554 at licensed and exempt centers and care homes, and by 6,673 at accredited care facilities, Ruth said.

The expansion of the Care 4 Kids program made up some of the difference but not enough, Ruth said.

“These closures are especially likely to harm immigrant families as federal regulations make Care 4 Kids inaccessible for many of these families,” Ruth said, adding that a greater percentage of young children and residents born outside the U.S. live in poverty than the state average.

“Many towns with high percentages of young children living in poverty and children with foreign-born parents do not have ECE programs designed to serve these families and limited child care options,” the report says. “Programs like Head Start and Even Start are designed to serve families experiencing poverty and families who don’t speak English as a first language, but they are not available in almost half of Connecticut’s municipalities that have above-average numbers of children with a parent born outside of the U.S.”

As such, the group issued the following policy recommendations to extend and expand access to early care for both immigrant and refugee families:

  • Implement policies that move Connecticut toward a system of universal access to affordable early care and education.
  • Establish a permanent state-level child tax credit.
  • Simplify the early care and education application process and the availability of assistance for applicants.
  • Ensure the accessibility of services and information in multiple languages.
  • Expand Head Start and Even Start.
  • Increase the number of providers who are people of color and providers who are immigrants.
  • Increase access to training where educators learn trauma-informed practices and culturally honoring practices.
  • Increase compensation for ECE workers. The group notes that current staffing shortages are due, at least in part, to the systemic underpayment of the ECE workforce.
  • Increase and create parity in Care 4 Kids reimbursement rates.
  • Augment the market rate system used by the federal government.
  • Ensure input from immigrant and refugee families at policymaking tables.
  • Create spaces for immigrant and refugee families to support one another.
Authors: Ted Glanzer •  Source: Hartford Courant • View