Immigrant children are the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population today. To ensure a brighter future not just for children of immigrants, most of whom are U.S. citizens, but for our entire nation, we must provide this segment of our population with the education and supports they need to become productive and engaged citizens.
Large numbers of immigrant children and their families are experiencing serious problems - inadequate education, poor physical and mental health, and poverty. Although participation in early childhood education programs can offset some of these problems, immigrant children attend such programs at lower rates compared to children of U.S.-born citizens. Multiple factors contribute to lower participation of immigrant families in early education including affordability, availability, bureaucratic complexity and distrust of government programs.
There are significant achievement disparities between immigrant children who do not speak English fluently and English-proficient students. Closing that achievement gap requires effective English language instruction so that immigrant children are fluent in English by third grade.
Immigrant children are less likely than native children to have health insurance and regular access to medical care. Improving access to health care substantially influences the physical and emotional health status of immigrant children and can improve the long-term economic prospects of the next generation.