This week, my story on what states are likely to do to win Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge grants was published by Education Week. The story gives a good national overview of the kinds of things states will be encouraged to do to win the money: build data systems, create quality ratings for daycare centers and other early learning programs, and so forth. One of the explicit goals of the competition is for states to reach out and ensure that as many at-risk young children receive high-quality care and learning as possible. But what will states have to do to get to them? My story couldn’t address this, but there is research out there that gives us some ideas.
A recent Urban Institute report on childcare decisions by low-income families shows that their preferences in daycare service often are pushed aside by other considerations such as affordability and proximity to home or work. (I know from personal experience it isn’t just low-wage parents who face those tradeoffs, either.) The report also takes a special look at barriers immigrants and non-native English speakers face in learning about childcare options in two cities: Providence, R.I., and Seattle, Wash. In both cities, Latino families made up large proportions of the families studied and were part of both the immigrant and non-immigrant subsets. It’s a long report and not well-distilled, so watch for my upcoming Q & A with the researchers to get you the gist.
In the meantime, one approach I’ve seen that successfully reaches Latino families is visiting them at home to provide them with information about the development of young children, services like those offered by the Ounce of Prevention Fund and Gads Hill. Because Latino families are generally less likely than those of other ethnicities to use center-based childcare, home visiting can be a crucial tool to pass along tips for moms and other caregivers to help their children grow and learn. It’s also a valuable support for isolated caregivers at home with young children all day.