Including Immigrant and Refugee Families in Two-Generation Programs: Elements of Successful Programs and Challenges Posed by WIOA Implementation
Margie McHugh, Director, National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy, MPI
Maki Park, Policy Analyst and Program Coordinator, National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy, MPI
Immigrants and refugees comprise almost one-quarter of all parents with young children ages 0-8 in the United States and represent an increasingly large share of U.S. families with young children that live below the poverty line. By addressing the needs of poor or low-income parents and their children simultaneously, two-generation programs hold the potential to uplift whole families and break cycles of intergenerational poverty. These programs seek to weave together high-quality early learning opportunities for children with parenting skills, adult education, workforce training, and other supports that improve family stability and thereby improve a child’s chances for lifelong success.
Tailored approaches are required, however, to effectively serve immigrant families, since limited English proficiency (LEP) and low levels of formal education pose significant obstacles to many parents’ ability to navigate services available for themselves and their children, and more generally move their families out of poverty. Unfortunately, parent-focused literacy programs that often provide the first encounter between immigrant parents and education, training and other supports are under threat as implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) proceeds, given the poor fit of nearly all of the law’s mandatory performance measures for the design and goals of parent-focused programs.
On this webinar experts with the Migration Policy Institute’s National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy discuss findings from a report that analyzes U.S. parent population data and draws from a field study of select two-generation programs that serve immigrant and refugee families. Speakers present data comparing the income, poverty, employment status, health insurance coverage, English proficiency, and education levels of U.S. foreign- and native-born parents with young children and their implications for the types of two-generation services many immigrant parents require. They also explore challenges and opportunities facing the two-generation field as it seeks to include the large and growing number of immigrant families with young children in its work, including implications of WIOA and recommendations for successful program and policy design.