Improving Access to High Quality Early Care and Education for Hispanic Children and Families

A recent report from the National Research Center on Hispanic Children and Families highlighted policies and practices that can improve access to high quality early care and education specifically for Hispanic children and their families. Findings included:

  • Low-income Hispanic preschool-age children are about as likely as their white peers to participate in ECE, but disparities in enrollment remain for infants and toddlers.
  • Barriers to access for Hispanic families include cost, the belief that other families may have a greater need than their own, a lack of awareness of programs, and mistrust, stigma and perceived ineligibility for programs based on immigration status.
  • Hispanic families need support locating high quality and affordable early care and education providers, such as making information available in Spanish, increasing funding for community-based organizations that engage Hispanic families, and recruiting and retaining bilingual providers.
  • Using community-level data to target expansion of early care and education programs into childcare deserts (neighborhoods without child care options) supports Hispanic parents entering the workforce.
  • Eligibility for child care subsidies often includes a minimum work requirement. Allowing enrollment in job training or education programs to meet that requirement can increase subsidy access for low-income Hispanic parents, who often have low levels of education and variable, unpredictable work hours.
  • Expanding the available hours of early care supports Hispanic families, many of whom work nonstandard hours or go to school.
  • Predictable work hours and family-friendly workplace policies can reduce stress on parents and promote children’s health and well-being. Data show that many low‐income working Hispanic parents, particularly immigrants, report receiving little advance notice of their work hours (1 week or less). Low-wage workers often do not receive paid time off.
  • Continual training of the early care and education workforce and support of culturally diverse providers increase child care quality. Research suggests two areas of training that should be prioritized for all providers working with Hispanic populations: 1) training in approaches for teaching dual language learners and 2) training in trauma-informed approaches to care, including recognition of emotional and behavioral signs of distress among Hispanic children.

The Pathways to Grade-Level Reading Initiative, which takes a whole-child, birth-through-age-eight approach to ensuring that all children are reading on grade level by the end of third grade, uses an explicit racial/ethnic equity lens in thinking about how to improve early childhood systems to support every child’s success. Pathways stakeholders defined using a racial equity lens as dedicating more and different resources to support children and families of color and create systems that work for all. The Pathways Action Framework demonstrates the results of looking at policy and practice options through a racial equity lens.

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