Ready to Meet the Needs of All Children? A Closer Look at Diversity in the Early Childhood Workforce
Jeanne Batalova, Senior Policy Analyst, Migration Policy Institute
Maki Park, Policy Analyst and Program Coordinator, MPI
Marcy Whitebook, Director, Center for the Study of Child Care Employment, University of California, Berkeley
Margie McHugh, Director, National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy, MPI
Children of immigrants and refugees now account for one in four of all those under age 6, and extensive research has shown that for children from immigrant families in particular, high-quality early learning programs have the potential to improve academic performance and reduce future achievement gaps. Given the critical role of skilled workers in improving children’s cognitive, socioemotional, and language development outcomes, the unprecedented diversity of children eligible to enroll in early childhood education and care (ECEC) programs makes the cultural and linguistic competence of the ECEC workforce a central concern.
On this webinar, MPI analysts discuss their report, Immigrant and Refugee Workers in the Early Childhood Field: Taking a Closer Look, which shows that just as the number and share of children of immigrants have grown substantially, the foreign born also now represent nearly one-fifth of the overall ECEC workforce. However, these immigrant workers—and the linguistic and cultural diversity that they bring to the field—are over-represented in lower-skilled and lower-paid positions. The report provides a first-of-its-kind analysis of diversity within the existing ECEC workforce, along with recommendations for addressing barriers to entry and advancement that many immigrant workers appear to face. With urgent new demands to improve the linguistic and cultural competence of the ECEC workforce, this analysis underscores the dual-generation benefits of better valuing and leveraging the skills and experience that immigrant and refugee ECEC workers bring to the field.