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New Research Finds Surprising Results When it Comes to Latino Participation in Early Care and Education

November 17, 2016

New Research Finds Surprising Results When it Comes to
Latino Participation in Early Care and Education:
Public Policy Changes Appear to Pay Off, Attracting Hard to Reach Latino Groups

November 17, 2016
Contact: Tina Plaza
(240) 223-9378
Tplazawhoriskey@childtrends.org

Bethesda, MD—Three new reports from the National Research Center on Hispanic Children and Families offer a fresh snapshot of early care and education (ECE) program use among Hispanic families across the United States. They suggest that Latino families are more willing to enroll their children in ECE programs than ever before. Such programs can help prepare low-income children for kindergarten and future academic success. The briefs in the series include:

“These reports indicate that the prior gap in ECE participation between low-income Hispanic children and their non-Hispanic peers is closing,” said Lina Guzman, co-principal investigator and director of the Child Trends Hispanic Institute. “This is important because Latino children have historically been under-represented in these programs, even though we know participation in high-quality ECE matters when it comes to kindergarten readiness.”

However, there is still work to be done. The new research also indicates that many Latino families need child care during off-hours. Two thirds of all low-income Hispanic children in ECE receive some care during evening, overnight, or weekend hours, representing roughly one third to half of their total time in care.

Key findings:

  • The gap in ECE participation rates between low-income Hispanic children and their peers appears to be closing. Nationally, roughly half of all low-income Hispanic children ages zero to 5, and nearly two thirds of Hispanic preschoolers (3 to 5), participated in ECE programs in 2012. Among those Hispanic preschool-aged children from low-income households who were in ECE programs, center-based programs were the most common type of ECE arrangement. Together, these findings suggest that Hispanic families are more receptive and likely to enroll in these programs when available.
  • Federal, state, and local investments in ECE programs appear to be paying off in closing the disparity gap in ECE participation. Low-income preschool-aged Hispanic children were as likely to be in center-based programs as their black and white peers were.
  • Low-income Hispanic children spend an average of 30 hours per week in ECE. This is comparable to black children of similar age, but more than white children. Average time spent in care did not differ based on children’s age or whether their parent(s) were born in the United States.
  • There is little evidence to support common explanations for Hispanics’ historically lower rates of participation in ECE. Hispanic parents, in general, hold perceptions about various aspects of care that are similar to the perceptions of black and white parents. Latino parents are no more likely to report having relatives available to care for their children than their white and black peers are.

While prior research suggested Hispanic children were not as likely to be enrolled in ECE programs, more recent data from national samples found high rates of Hispanic ECE participation, including among those who are hard to reach. For example, low-income Latino children from immigrant households are as likely to be using center-based care as their Latino peers from non-immigrant households, as well as their low-income white and black peers.

“These reports shed light on the results of work that the federal government, states, and local communities have been doing to increase the supply of ECE programs and to encourage Latino families to enroll their children in those programs,” said Michael López, co-principal investigator and principal associate at Abt Associates.

The studies draw from the National Survey of Early Care and Education, a nationally representative set of surveys that tracks use and availability of ECE programs.

All reports can be found at: http://www.hispanicresearchcenter.org/resources/publications/

About the Center

The National Research Center on Hispanic Children and Families is a hub of research to help programs and policy better serve low-income Hispanics across three priority areas: poverty reduction and self-sufficiency, healthy marriage and responsible fatherhood, and early care and education. It is comprised of a team of national experts in Hispanic issues, led by Child Trends and Abt Associates along with university partners (University of Maryland, College Park; University of North Carolina at Greensboro; and the Institute for Human Development and Social Change at New York University). The Center was established in 2013 by a 5-year cooperative agreement from the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation within the Administration for Children and Families in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.