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New Report Highlights Challenges Facing Children in Immigrant Families

Race for Results Photo Quote

We know that high-quality early education improves long-term outcomes for kids, and yet only 59 percent of American children from immigrant families aged three to five are enrolled in preschool.These children—the vast majority of whom are themselves US citizens—face unique barriers during this critical time in their development, and are the focus of the Race for Results 2017 Policy Report recently released by The Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The 2017 report is the second from The Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT initiative that measures how children from different racial backgrounds fare on the path to opportunity. The first report, published in 2014, found that African-American, American Indian, and Latino children were further behind in 12 key indicators of opportunity than white and Asian and Pacific Islander children. Committed to reporting on data assessing the barriers to opportunity facing children of color every three years, The Casey Foundation focused this year’s study on children in immigrant families.  

Read more: New Report Highlights Challenges Facing Children in Immigrant Families

From Yoncalla to Salem: Parent Voices Drive Advocacy

Parents meet with Governor Kate Brown. Governor Brown meets with parents from Yoncalla Early Works.

“After that, I couldn’t wait to do more.”

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During the 2017 session of the Oregon legislature, Sara Ruiz-Weight traveled to Salem three times to testify about the value of preschool and early education. She joined staff and board members from Children’s Institute to meet with legislators and Governor Kate Brown, sharing her experiences as a mother of five living in the city of Drain (pop. 1,164) in North Douglas County.

Sara’s youngest child attended preschool last year at Yoncalla Elementary School, a 10-minute drive from Drain. Yoncalla Elementary School is both an Early Works site and a Preschool Promise site. Early Works is a partnership between The Ford Family Foundation, Children’s Institute, and the Yoncalla School District that focuses on early learning, health, and family engagement. Preschool Promise is Oregon’s new state-funded preschool program that launched mixed-delivery classrooms in September 2016.

Sara says her daughter felt comfortable from day one. She saw her daughter begin to grow immediately and start looking at the world differently. “She learned how to better handle her emotions and break down situations so she could understand what people around her are doing,” Sara says.

Read more: From Yoncalla to Salem: Parent Voices Drive Advocacy

Relief Nurseries help families stay together

Parenting young children can be challenging for anyone. But for parents who struggle with substance abuse, lack of work, housing insecurity, a history of abuse, or a number of other factors, being a supportive parent can be even more of a challenge.

That’s where Relief Nurseries help. Relief Nurseries offer a mix of intervention and prevention programs and services to meet the needs of children age 0 to 6 and their families. Unique to Oregon, there are 31 Relief Nursery sites around the state run by independent nonprofits, serving nearly 3,000 families a year.

 “We really look at the whole family,” says Mary Ellen Glynn, executive director of the Oregon Association of Relief Nurseries. That means free programming for children from birth to preschool that’s both therapeutic and educational, weekly at-home visits for parents, supplies like diapers and clothing, and assistance navigating the system to attain affordable housing, food assistance, education, and more.

“We know there are incredible developmental milestones in the first 5 years,” says Tim Rusk, Executive Director of MountainStar Family Relief Nurseries in Central Oregon. “That includes attachment, social-emotional learning, and a foundation for learning for the rest of their lives. If parents and families are distracted by issues like domestic violence, food insecurity, or housing insecurity, they have a harder time meeting their child’s needs.”Screen Shot 2017 10 03 at 9.54.13 PM

Read more: Relief Nurseries help families stay together

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