Leveraging the Potential of Home Visiting Programs to Serve Immigrant and Dual Language Learner Families
A child’s first years are ones of exceptionally rapid growth, a period that can lay the foundation for school readiness and healthy socioemotional development. Growing awareness of the importance of investing in infants and toddlers is reflected in the spread of home visiting programs—family-focused social services provided in the home on a regular basis to expectant mothers and new parents alongside their young children. The federal Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program, for example, has seen its funding rise since it was created in 2010, and many states and counties have launched or expanded their own programs.
Children with immigrant parents and those exposed to a language other than English in the home (known as Dual Language Learners, or DLLs) are important target populations for such early childhood programs. As of 2013–17, one-fourth of U.S. children ages 5 and under were children of immigrants, and nearly one-third were DLLs. Young children of immigrants are also more likely than their peers to live in low-income households—a priority service population for many home visiting initiatives.
Yet studies show that DLLs and children in immigrant families are underserved by home visiting services. This policy brief examines the characteristics that make these children and their families important targets for such programs and barriers that may hinder their participation. It also highlights opportunities to address them, including by making these groups visible in MIECHV needs assessments, improving program data collection, and strengthening partnerships with community-based organizations.
II. Home Visiting Programs and Their Benefits for All Young Children
III. Immigrant Parents and Their Young Children: Important Targets for Home Visiting Services
IV. The Potential of Home Visiting to Support Immigrant and DLL Families
V. Barriers to Participation
VI. Opportunities to Expand High-Quality Home Visiting Services for Immigrant and DLL Families
A. Make Immigrant and DLL Families Visible in Needs Assessments
B. Improve Program Data Collection to Inform Improvement Efforts
C. Build Understanding of What Models and Strategies Work for Diverse Families
D. Leverage Partnerships to Reach Immigrant Families
E. Prioritize Staff Diversity and Professional Development
F. Adopt a Trauma-Informed Approach to Service Provision