New research finds Latino families want preschool as much as others, but big gaps in access remain
Marissa González is desperate for her 3-year-old to be in preschool.
The Pico Union mother quit her job as a special education teacher when her first child was born because she wanted to be at home with her children in their early years. But as soon as they were old enough, she began applying to nearby preschools. She wants her young son to learn from qualified teachers and play with other children.
“I try, but as a mom what I do at home is different,” González said.
She’s applied unsuccessfully to subsidized preschools in her area – they’re all full. And the family cannot afford private preschool.
González’s older children attended preschool, and she hopes her youngest will get a seat next year.
Her experience mirrors both new research findings and unfortunate urban realities.
RESEARCH FINDS LATINO CHILDREN HAVE HIGH PRESCHOOL PARTICIPATION.
The new research shows that Latino families nationwide are seeking out preschool for their 3- and 4-year-olds. Nationally, two-thirds of all low-income Latino preschoolers attend some form of early education. That's the same as the enrollment of low-income white children, but is less than black low-income preschoolers of whom three-quarters are enrolled.
The new data comes from the National Research Center on Hispanic Children and Families and is based on interviews with over 11,000 families nationwide. One-quarter of those interviewed were Latino families.
The finding that these families are seeking out center-based childcare for their young children goes against some commonly-held conclusions about the early education choices of Latino communities.
“This disrupts the prevailing idea that [Hispanic] families prefer to keep kids at home or don’t like center care and prefer family based care,” said to Michael López, a principal investigator at the National Research Center on Hispanic Children and Families.
The reports also found that low-income Latino children spend an average of 30 hours per week in some form of early education. Black children spend a similar amount of time in preschool, but white children attend for fewer hours per week.
According to researchers, this is all good news for closing the achievement gap between Hispanic students and their peers.
But the data also show that when it comes to Latino babies and toddlers, only one in three are in a formal care arrangement, far fewer than their black and white peers.
Lina Guzman, director of Child Trends Hispanic Institute and co-author of the new reports, said this might be due to a “potential mismatch between when parents are working and when centers are open.”
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