Children in Immigrant Families: Essential to America's Future
Though children in immigrant families are tracking fairly evenly with children of U.S.-born parents when it comes to parental employment, and even better
in terms of parental presence in the home and early health indicators, many of these children are still facing a lifetime of hardship as a result of poverty, lack of access to health insurance, and limited educational achievement according to a new report, Children in Immigrant Families: Essential to America’s Future. The report is the first ever to provide a detailed assessment of the quality of life of the one in four children in the U.S. who are the sons and daughters of immigrants.
“America has always been a land of immigrants. They bring assets that are essential to our nation’s growth, including optimism and faith in the virtues of work, family, and their adopted communities,” says Ruby Takanishi, president of FCD. “In addition, as evidenced by their high rates of employment, immigrant parents do well when they have some control. However, their children still face huge struggles. Somewhere along the line, the system is failing them.”
Specific findings from the report include:
- 66 percent of children in immigrant families live with at least one securely employed parent, only three percentage points less than children with U.S.-born parents, at 69 percent.
- 30 percent of children in immigrant families live below the federal poverty level, compared to 19 percent of children with U.S.-born parents.
- 25 percent of children in immigrant families do not graduate high school, versus 18 percent of children with U.S.-born parents.
- Only 7 percent of children who are Dual Language Learners become proficient in reading in English by the end of third grade, versus 37 percent for students whose first language is English.
- Children who are Dual Language Learners are only one-third as likely as English Only Learners to be proficient in mathematics by the end of the third grade (14 percent versus 44 percent).
- 15 percent of children in immigrant families are not covered by health insurance, compared to 8 percent of children with U.S.-born parents.
- Only 25 percent of children with immigrant parents are living in a one-parent family, compared to 30 percent of children with U.S.-born parents.
Donald J. Hernandez, author of the report, finds the education statistics particularly troubling. “Studies have found that those who are unable to read by the fourth grade are unlikely to ever catch up, and are four times more likely to drop out of school,” says Hernandez. “These data show us that our education system is failing nine out of ten Dual Language Learner students in the U.S., and even a substantial majority of children whose first language is English. We simply must ensure that Dual Language Learners — and all children — are given a better foundation for learning.”
Children in Immigrant Families also offers specific recommendations for closing the gaps between children of U.S.-born and immigrant parents, and for increasing well-being for all American children.
Read more about this report and download the full version in the link below.