The National Research Center on Hispanic Children & Families just released a new series of briefs for researchers, “Using Existing Large-Scale Data to Study Early Care and Education among Hispanics.”
The four briefs in the series (Project Overview and Methodology, Search and Decision-Making, Families’ Use of Early Care and Education, and How Hispanic Parents and Children Experience ECE Settings), along with two new interactive tools, look at the data we currently have to examine low-income Latino families’ ECE interactions, the strengths and challenges of these data, and potential new research questions that could be answered.
These briefs come at a critical time as, in the U.S., more than one-quarter of all children ages five and younger are Hispanic and more than two- thirds of these kids live in or near poverty. High-quality ECE experiences can promote the healthy development of children and increased public funding greatly expanded ECE enrollment among children from low-income families. Yet many eligible Hispanic children still do not participate in ECE programs, for a variety of reasons.
Secondary analyses of existing large-scale data sets provide a cost-effective and valuable way to contribute to this knowledge base about Latino populations. This series and these tools help to deepen our understanding of multiple aspects of low-income Hispanic families’ lives, including how they care for and educate young children. We hope you will share them with your colleagues, and especially those in the research community who care about the early care and education of Latino children.
The National Research Center on Hispanic Children & Families (Center) recently released new findings that show low-income Hispanic households have less earnings variation month-to-month compared with their non-Hispanic counterparts. Yet, the research also shows these households face difficulties accessing certain public assistance programs and that there have been downward shifts in income since the Great Recession.
Join the Center @NRCHispanic as we explore these findings and their implications for policies and programs in a Tuesday, 12/15 Twitter chat at 2pm EST, using #HispanicFamilies. Researchers Lisa Gennetian (@Gen_Pov) and Marta Alvira-Hammond (tweeting from @NRCHispanic) will be there to discuss the research and answer questions.
Three research briefs examine the economic circumstances of low-income Latino households.
BETHESDA, Md. – The National Research Center on Hispanic Children & Families (Hispanic Center) today released new findings that show that low-income Hispanic households have less variation in earnings from month-to-month in comparison with non-Hispanic low-income households. Despite few resources, low-income Latinos may face difficulties accessing public assistance programs. The Hispanic Center is led by Child Trends and Abt Associates, in partnership with several universities.
In the first of three briefs, Income Instability in the Lives of Hispanic Children, researchers found that Hispanic children were almost twice as likely as non-Hispanics to live in households with annual incomes of less than $24,000, the lowest income bracket. At the same time, the studies found that Hispanic households in this lowest income bracket were more economically stable than non-Hispanic households. Researchers caution that this greater economic stability may come at a cost.
Income stability among Hispanics appears to be due to more stable monthly earnings rather than to uptake of social assistance programs that aim to stabilize income among poorer households. A household’s earned income stability varies depending on a complex set of factors. These include the number of adult earners employed, the quality of those jobs, and the predictability of their earnings from month-to-month. The greater stability in income observed among low-income Hispanics may be a result of parents’ working long hours or having multiple part-time jobs, which could translate into less time at home with their families.
“On one hand, stable earnings and less reliance on social assistance income may bode well for Latino children, particularly if associated with broader family stability, even if at low overall income,” said Lisa Gennetian, author of these briefs and program head for the Hispanic Center’s Poverty Reduction and Self-Sufficiency research area. “On the other hand, stable chronic poverty is not good for children.” Dr. Gennetian is also associate research scientist at New York University’s Institute for Human Development and Social Change, and a senior researcher at the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Previous studies found that the combination of low and unstable incomes may impact family routines, psychological stress, and residential stability, which in turn can lead to negative repercussions for children’s development.
The second brief, How Hispanic Parents Perceive Their Need and Eligibility for Public Assistance, points to previous research that found that Hispanics are less likely than blacks and whites to access some public assistance. For example, research found that in 2009, 27 percent of lower income Hispanic parents received food stamp benefits compared to 43 percent of black parents. The researchers explored parents’ reported reasons for not applying for government assistance and found similar reasons among Hispanic, white and black parents with one important exception: Hispanic parents were more likely to report immigration concerns as a barrier for applying for government assistance programs. The brief notes that 9 percent of naturalized citizens and over a third of legal permanent residents perceived that they were ineligible for government assistance programs because of immigration reasons.
“Our findings signal that immigration concerns have far-reaching consequences and may be hindering families who may be eligible and in need of services from obtaining them,” said Marta Alvira-Hammond, lead author of the brief and senior research analyst at Child Trends. “This new information can help guide programs’ outreach to low-income Hispanics.”
Researchers also noted there is a wider income inequality gap among Hispanic families compared to non-Hispanic families. For example, nearly 30 percent of Hispanic children live in poverty, while about nine percent live in high-income households—a difference of 20 points. Among non-Hispanic children, the difference is just 9 percentage points, as 16 percent of non-Hispanic children live in poverty while about a quarter live in high-income households. Overall, 25 percent of all children in the United States are Hispanic.
The third brief, Low and Stable Income: Comparisons Among Hispanic Children, From 2004 Through the Period Following the Great Recession, suggests that the Great Recession may have presented barriers to economic mobility. The economic circumstances in 2008 to 2011, toward the end of the recession, reduced the income gap between Hispanic children in high- and low-income households. This reduction appears to have come about through downward shifts of Hispanic households from high-to middle-income groups, not through rises in the lowest income group to higher income groups.
With fewer ties to formal and stable employment pre-recession, fewer Latino workers may have had access to unemployment insurance and other sources of emergency income or insurance to lessen the repercussions of wage losses during the recession.
“These briefs provide a deeper understanding of the economic circumstances facing low-income Hispanic families,” explained Lina Guzman, co-director of the National Research Center on Hispanic Children and Families and a program area director for Child Trends. “This is precisely the type of research needed to inform polices aimed at improving outcomes for the fastest-growing sector of children in the United States—Latino children.”
About the Center: The National Research Center on Hispanic Children and Families (www.HispanicResearchCenter.org) is a hub of research to improve the lives of low-income Hispanics across three priority areas- poverty reduction and self-sufficiency, healthy marriage and responsible fatherhood, and early care and education. It’s 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 five-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.
Miami-Dade County programs add to the growing evidence of investing in early child care and education
BETHESDA, Md.—September 29, 2015— Low-income Latino children in Miami-Dade County who attended public school pre-K or subsidized center-based child care at age four entered kindergarten scoring above national averages in the areas of pre-academic and social behavioral skills, according to a new report released today. These benefits were sustained over time as the study found these students continued to perform well through the end of third grade on the state standardized test of reading comprehension and their earned GPAs.
The report was produced by the National Research Center on Hispanic Children and Families (the Center), led by Child Trends and Abt Associates, in partnership with several universities. The report explores kindergarten readiness of low-income Latino children who participated in publicly subsidized early child care and education programs that were part of the Miami School Readiness Project (MSRP).
“Our report reveals promising new evidence about the potential benefits of early child care and education programs for children from low-income families, particularly Latino children who are dual-language learners,” said Michael López, Ph.D, co-principal investigator at the Center and Principal Associate at Abt Associates. “This is important to note as educators and policymakers make critical decisions about the shape and future of America’s early care and education system for all children, especially for the large and fast-growing population of Latino children, so that all children enter kindergarten ready to succeed in school and in life.”
The findings document several patterns of school readiness and subsequent academic performance among the low-income Latino children in the study sample.
School readiness skills at kindergarten entry:
- On average, low-income Latino children who attended both public school pre-K and center-based child care in Miami-Dade County entered kindergarten scoring above national averages in the areas of pre-academic and social-behavioral skills.
- Low-income Latino children who had attended public school pre-K in this community at age four, demonstrated somewhat higher pre-academic and social-behavioral skills at the start of kindergarten then did children who had been in center-based child care.
- In addition, low-income Latino children classified as dual-language learners who attended public-school pre-K were more proficient in English than were their peers who had attended center-based child care during the prior year.
Academic performance in third grade:
- On average, low-income Latino children who had attended either type of preschool program in Miami-Dade County fared well on: (a) third-grade tests of reading comprehension, with nine in ten passing the test and (b) their end of year GPAs, earning the grade equivalent of a B.
- At the same time, on both these educational markers, low-income Latino children who had attended public school pre-K in this community performed somewhat better than children who had attended center-based child care the year before entering kindergarten.
Today, roughly one in four children entering kindergarten in the United States is of Hispanic or Latino origin. However, preschool enrollment remains relatively low among Latino children; generally, less than half attend some form of pre-school immediately prior to kindergarten entry.
Prior research shows that when Latino children enter school, they tend to lag behind their non-Latino white classmates in areas of early language, literacy, and mathematics. In addition, Latino children often enter school less ready to learn than do their non-Latino white classmates; and this pattern seems to hold true regardless of the level of English fluency in their homes.
“Early child care and education are critical in closing the school readiness gap between young Latino students and their non-Latino white counterparts,” said Arya Ansari, co-author of the report and a recent Center research fellow from the University of Texas, Austin. “By analyzing academic performance from kindergarten through third grade, we were able to highlight the long-term benefits realized from participation in early child care and education programs at age four.”
“This research validates our work at the Early Learning Coalition, which stands firmly on the premise that investments in high-quality Early Care and Education support the continued success of the children in our community by helping to close the achievement gap”, said Evelio Torres, President and CEO of the Early Learning Coalition of Miami Dade/Monroe.
The data used for the report comes from the MSRP, a large-scale, long-term study originally funded by the Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade/Monroe and The Children’s Trust, that to date has followed 41,339 children from preschool into the Miami-Dade County public school system. The MSRP included almost the entire population of four-year-olds from low-income families who had applied for (and received) subsidies to attend center-based child care and those attending public school pre-K programs between the 2002 and 2006 school years.
About the Center
The National Research Center on Hispanic Children & Families (www.HispanicResearchCenter.org) is a hub of research to improve the lives of low-income Hispanics across three priority areas- poverty reduction and self-sufficiency, healthy marriage and responsible fatherhood, and early care and education. It’s 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 five-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.