Amid Mounting National Tensions, D.C. Children in Immigrant Families Fare Better Than Their Peers in Other States



Amid Mounting National Tensions, D.C. Children in Immigrant Families Fare Better Than Their Peers in Other States

2017 Race for Results report highlights the importance of policies that level the playing field for all children


WASHINGTON, D.C. — The District of Columbia’s vitality and prosperity depend on the success of all children. In a new report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the District stands out for its leadership in working to combat inequities and ensure all children and their families have access to core supports promoting health, education and well-being.


The report, 2017 Race for Results: Building a Path to Opportunity for All Children, reveals a nationwide gulf in prosperity for children in immigrant families with approximately 53 percent living in poverty. In the District, more than 40 percent of children in immigrant families live in poverty. While better than the national average, D.C. must continuously seek to implement policies and programs that emphasize protection and support for the 28,000 children living in immigrant families; these policies and programs must prioritize their needs and the needs of their parents and caregivers.


While the Race for Results report also shares that many immigrant children across the country face barriers in accessing high-quality education, District children do not have the same experience. Children living in immigrant families in the District are enrolled in early childhood education programs at a significantly higher rate than the national average (82 percent vs. 59 percent, respectively). The District can attribute these gains to intentional policies and programs designed to support all children, such as universal Pre-K for all 3- and 4-year-olds and D.C. Healthy Families, which provides access to health care so children are healthy and prepared to enroll in school.


“It is no coincidence that D.C. children living in immigrant families are faring better than many across the nation. We applaud the District for taking steps to protect and support children and their families, regardless of their immigration status,” said Shana Bartley, Acting Executive Director of DC Action for Children.


Though District leaders have made significant steps towards leveling the playing field for children in immigrant families, there is still work to be done. Drawing upon her work with Hispanic and Latino families, Executive Director of Jubilee JumpStart, Dee Dee Parker Wright, urges legislators to “reject a ‘one-size fits all’ perspective and consider crafting policy solutions that address the unique challenges immigrants of diverse countries of origin face.”


Neel Saxena, Executive Director of Asian American LEAD elaborates, “Immigrant communities face challenges that are unique to their ethnic group and are often overlooked. The Asian and Pacific Islander immigrants that we work with counter the model minority myth and face numerous obstacles, such as linguistic barriers in housing programs and accessing culturally-appropriate mental health services.”


The Race for Results report measures children’s progress at national and state levels on key education, health and economic milestones by racial and ethnic groups. The report calls for legislators to back policies that protect families and reduce barriers facing immigrant children, which include reducing familial separation, educational hurdles and chronic poverty.


The Race for Results report makes three recommendations to help ensure all children and their families are afforded opportunities to reach their full potential:


  • Keep families together and in their communities — Keeping children with their families enables them to meet developmental milestones and lets parents address the needs of their children.
  • Help children in immigrant families meet key developmental milestones —The overall well-being of children is key to our nation’s future and is influenced by their environments. We must choose policies that make those environments supportive and healthy.
  • Increase economic opportunity for immigrant parents — Meaningful programs and policies that improve opportunities for low-income workers and deal with the need of families save taxpayers by reducing the costs of safety-net program.


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