KIDS COUNT Report: Children in Immigrant Families at a Distinct Disadvantage
Wednesday, August 01, 2012
Rhode Island children in immigrant families are more likely to live in poverty, lack health insurance and not attend pre-school than children whose parents were born in the United States, according to a report issued by Rhode Island KIDS COUNT.
The report, which will be unveiled at a policy roundtable this morning at the Rhode Island Foundation, notes that 24 percent (54,000) children were living in immigrant families into 2010, rate on par with the national average. Of the New England states, only Massachusetts had a higher percentage (26 percent) of children with parents not born in the country.
Between 2008 and 2010, 3 percent (7,938) of Rhode Island’s children under age 18 were foreign-born. Foreign-born children made up 15 percent of Rhode Island’s children living in immigrant families. Of foreign-born children living in Rhode Island between 2008 and 2010, 24 percent were born in the Caribbean, 22 percent were born in Central America, 19 percent were born in Africa, 16 percent were born in Asia, 10 percent were born in South America, and 6 percent were born in Canada, Bermuda, or Mexico. Children born in Puerto Rico are U.S. citizens and are not counted as foreign-born.
But the report found that children in immigrant families are at a distinct disadvantage on a variety of issues.
Between 2008 and 2010, 19 percent of children with immigrant parents lived in families where all resident parents had less than a high school degree, compared to 7 percent of children with U.S.-born parents.
In 2010, twenty-three percent of children in immigrant families lived in linguistically isolated households, which are households in which no one over the age of 14 either only speaks English or speaks English “very well.”
In 2008, Rhode Island’s child poverty rate among children in U.S.-born families was 14 percent, compared with 19 percent of children living in immigrant families.
According to the 2007 National Survey of Children’s Health, 18.8 percent of foreign-born children in Rhode Island lacked health insurance, compared with 6.4 percent of Rhode Island children with one or both parents born outside of the U.S., and 4.2 percent of children with U.S.-born parents.
- Between 2008 and 2010, 37 percent of 3- and 4-year-old children in immigrant families in Rhode Island attended child care or preschool compared to 55 percent of their U.S.-born peers.
“In order to ensure a prosperous future, we need to make sure all Rhode Island children, including children in immigrant families, grow up healthy and well-educated with the skills needed to contribute to Rhode Island’s economy,” said Elizabeth Burke Bryant, Executive Director of Rhode Island KIDS COUNT.
The report also lists several recommendations for improving outcomes for children living in immigrant families.
Increase access to high-quality child care and early education programs for children in families from diverse cultural and language backgrounds.
Ensure that English as a Second Language (ESL) and bilingual education programs in public schools provide high-level academic content and improve English proficiency.
Use the new student identifier and the Rhode Island Department of Education data warehouse to track the academic proficiency levels, academic progress and graduation rates of students who are English Language Learners and use the data to improve academic supports for these students.
Maintain access to in-state tuition for undocumented students who have lived in the state for at least three years, graduated from Rhode Island high schools and been admitted to public colleges and universities.
Increase the availability of high-quality adult basic education and English- language classes, with special attention to communities with waiting lists.
Improve access to college transition services and financial aid for full-time and part-time adult students, including parents in immigrant families.
Restore access to RIte Care health insurance for income-eligible children who are undocumented immigrants.
- Support federal efforts to achieve comprehensive immigration reform.
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