Monthly Archives: February 2010

Immigrant Children Face Many Obstacles

New report finds children in immigrant families in N.C. face obstacles: Though most are U.S. citizens, barriers exist to positive education and health outcomes

 All children deserve access to good health, safety, a sound education and the stability that comes with family financial security. And yet, a new report has found that access to these basics has been denied to far too many of the 340,000 children in immigrant families in North Carolina. The emerging issues report by Action for Children North Carolina reveals that although children in immigrant families make up 15 percent of the child population of the state, and the vast majority of them are U.S. citizens, many of them are blocked out of the health care system, pushed out of school, and relegated to the economic margins.

The report, Children in Immigrant Families, finds that these children are deeply rooted in the U.S. – 84 percent are American citizens and many more are legal residents. The majority of them are English-fluent and almost half are bilingual (speaking fluent English and another language at home). They benefit from a relatively high level of family stability—most live in two-parent homes (84 percent) and most have parents engaged in the workforce.

The report also highlights the challenges faced by children in immigrant families. Family economic insecurity stemming from low-wage employment, and lack of access to services either due to language or institutional barriers, can be obstacles to children accessing health insurance coverage, early education and English fluency. Lack of access to these basics can undermine children’s well-being and success in school and in life.

“Ensuring that all children have the opportunity to succeed results in stronger communities,” says Barb Bradley, Action for Children President & CEO. “Preventive measures for all children, like early education and health insurance, are win-wins. By giving our children the right start in life, we ensure that their success will fuel the economy of the future. And make no mistake—children in immigrant families will be integral to North Carolina’s success in the new global economy.”

The report presents the most current data available on the health, education and family well-being of children in North Carolina’s immigrant families. Some key data highlights include:

  • 84 percent of children in immigrant families are U.S. citizens.
  • The national origins of North Carolina’s children in immigrant families are diverse, with families coming from Latin America, Africa, Asia and Europe.
  • Children in immigrant families reside in nearly all 100 counties in North Carolina but are concentrated in the Triad, Triangle and Charlotte Metropolitan areas.
  • 84 percent of children in immigrant families live in two-parent households, compared to 69 percent of U.S. born families.
  • More than half of parents of immigrant children work, compared to 70 percent of the parents of all children in N.C.

The report recommends policy changes that could further children in immigrant families’ long-term success in school and in life. Recommendations include:

  • Outreach to families to inform communities about public and private benefits and resources that are available to children, through appropriate interpretation and translation of information.
  • Culturally and linguistically appropriate early education programs.
  • English courses made more available to linguistically isolated households. Improving parental language acquisition can improve academic success for their children.
  • Improved enrollment into comprehensive preschool programs in order increase school readiness and proficiency testing.
  • Access to job skills training and placement services for living wage jobs.

The report also includes resources for how to learn more about children in immigrant families. Children in Immigrant Families is available online at:


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Insuring more of our children

Mandy Ableidinger, director of policy and budget analysis for Action for Children North Carolina, has a great op-ed in the February 19th issue of the News and Observer. She writes:
A year ago, a newly elected President Barack Obama signed the reauthorization of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program into law, extending and offering needed funding to the popular, successful public health insurance program for children in low-income families.The reauthorization allowed North Carolina’s SCHIP program, called Health Choice, to increase enrollment by about 9,000 children this year – children who otherwise would have been uninsured. Thanks to broad support in Raleigh and across the state, Health Choice has been a huge win for North Carolina.

Health Choice helps more than 100,000 children in working families all over the state who would otherwise be uninsured get the checkups they need to stay healthy and to see doctors when they get sick

North Carolina’s health dollars are spent wisely with Health Choice, providing coverage so a boy with asthma can get a $40 inhaler rather than allowing his condition to go untreated and spending thousands of dollars on an emergency room admission for a full-blown asthma attack.

Covering children is good for our economy – helping parents to stay on the job, rather than miss work to take a sick child to the emergency room, and reducing long-term medical costs.

But 264,000 of North Carolina’s children are still uninsured. That’s enough to reach from Greensboro to Wilmington, holding hands . . . North Carolina is losing employer-sponsored health insurance faster than any other state in the nation, and many of these children’s families have lost their work-based insurance plans.

Read the entire op-ed.

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Child Care Coalition Responds to DSS Proposal

The N.C. Child Care Coalition has issued the following response to the DSS Paper to Consolidation Task Force.

During the past year, North Carolina has faced some of the most challenging economic times in the history of the state. County Departments of Social Services, as well as other governmental agencies such as Public Health, have played an important role in providing services for families impacted by this Great Recession. The child care providers of our state have also been providing the critical service of quality early care and education for young children so that families can work, look for work, and go to school for retraining in order to be prepared for new work. Families need to know that their young children are in safe, stimulating environments when they are cared for outside the home. Children, particularly those living in families with low incomes, need high quality early care and education so they are prepared for success in school and life.

We have a nationally acclaimed early childhood system that provides children with early childhood experiences that put them on the path to successful adulthood. It is critical that we do not let the circumstances of the current crisis lead us to dismantling this system that is preparing our youngest citizens to lead our state into the future.

  • A consistent system for delivery of services is important, but a one- size fits all system of delivery of services often is not successful. Local communities need flexibility to facilitate services to children and families tied to their special needs and the needs of the community. Not all families in need of child care assistance will ever need assistance for other services provided by local Departments of Social Services.
  • Federal laws, rules, and regulations not only encourage but require the use of some public dollars to improve the quality of care (mandated market rate surveys, CCDF Block Grant Quality set aside regulations). Similarly Smart Start dollars were designed to address both access and quality. Public dollars should not be used to fund substandard care.
  • Actual data refutes the assertion that rate increases for child care providers have been out of line. In fact, they have not kept up with inflation and mandatory minimum wage increases. A permanent freeze of rate adjustments until North Carolina’s waiting list is eliminated would eventually lead to a system of quality care available only for private paying parents. Child care providers would not be able to provide quality care for the rate the state would pay for children with a subsidy voucher. Unlike other providers whose rates are set by the state, child care providers do not receive automatic inflationary increases.
  • There are many reasons why the waiting list is so large. We are a low wage state. The current Great Recession will have the impact of driving wages even lower and, possibly, leaving more working families with only one wage earner. The cost of child care is not the cause of the current waiting list. In addition, the Recession has necessitated cuts to the state budget that have taken millions of dollars away from child care subsidy in order to deal with other state budget crises both within and outside the Department of Health & Human Services.

The Coalition also developed a fact sheet to address the factual errors made in the January 2010 document prepared by the North Carolina Association of County Directors of Social Services.

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Is Quality Child Care Part of Your Economic Development Plan?

If not, it should be. This editorial from the Herald Sun shows why quality child care is so important to the economy . . .

Let’s figure out the child care problem.

The Kellogg Foundation funded a 2004 report, “The Economic Impact of the Child Care Industry in North Carolina” that highlighted statistics that should make economic development leaders and business owners sit up and take notice:

– In North Carolina, one in 10 workers has a child under the age of 6, and about a quarter of the unscheduled absences in every industry are related to child care needs.

– Employee turnover costs about 1.5 times an employee’s salary, but employees who receive child care benefits are half as likely to leave their jobs.

– And child care is big business of its own, generating $1.5 billion in North Carolina each year and providing more than 46,000 jobs.

Child care is a critical issue, not just for families, but communities and their economic well-being.

There is a particularly pervasive argument that suggests one parent should stay home to offset the spiraling cost of child care — which, because of regulations and operating costs, often exceeds the cost of undergraduate tuition at state universities.

Because it is often the mother who is encouraged or expected to stay home, child care has often been treated as a matter of choice, an expense and industry that serves middle income careerists.

That’s a fallacy. For single and low-earning parents who cannot sacrifice income, child care is a necessity. Even in homes where a single parent’s salary goes entirely or in large part to child care costs, the expense is offset by the need for parents to stay at work in order to remain employable and increase their earnings over a lifetime — earnings that will be needed to pay for the college tuition on the other end of the spectrum.

Child care isn’t a pink collar issue and it has to come off of the back burner for both the city and the state.

Read the rest of the Herald Sun editorial.

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Now this is cool! From the White House:

Pregnant women and new mothers will be able to get health information delivered regularly to their mobile phones by text message at no charge under a public service program by a coalition of mobile phone service providers, health professionals, and Federal, State, and Local agencies.

The new program, called text4baby, is a free mobile information service that provides timely health information to women from early pregnancy through their babies’ first year. The service sends important health tips that are timed to the mother’s stage of pregnancy or the baby’s age.

Ninety percent of Americans have a mobile phone and texting is especially prevalent among women of childbearing age and minority populations, who face higher infant mortality rates. Women who sign up for the service by texting BABY to 511411 (or BEBE for Spanish) receive three free SMS text messages each week timed to their due date or baby’s date of birth. The messages focus on topics critical to the health of moms and babies, including, nutrition, seasonal flu prevention and treatment, mental health issues, risks of tobacco use, oral health, immunization schedules, and safe sleep. Text4baby messages also connect women to public clinics and support services for prenatal and infant care.

Currently in the United States more than 500,000 babies – 1 in every 8 – are born prematurely and an estimated 28,000 children die before their first birthday, a rate among the highest in the industrialized world. Premature babies can face lifelong health and intellectual development problems. Medical expenses for babies born prematurely average about ten times those for babies born after a full-term pregnancy. All told, premature births cost the Nation tens of billions of dollars—at least $26.2 billion in 2005, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

“Getting connected to prenatal care and other services for a healthy pregnancy is a problem for a lot of women,” said Wanda Jones, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “Text4baby provides pregnant women and new mothers with a new tool to obtain vital information that is critical to maternal and child health.” 

For more information on text4baby, visit   

For more information on OSTP, visit

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Child care subsidies are investment in the economy and families

North Carolina’s Subsidized Child Care Program integrates the strengths of multiple agencies to ensure children’s needs are best met. In many counties across the state, Departments of Social Service and local Smart Start Partnerships work together, tapping DSS’s history of serving low-income families and Smart Start’s record of ensuring high quality early childhood education and care.

Unfortunately, the association that represents North Carolina’s Directors of Social Services is proposing to dismantle a system that works well to ensure children from low-income families have access to quality child care. Going against everything that science tells us that young children need to thrive, succeed in school, and become productive adults; the NCADSS recommends that the state forgo quality for quantity and pay child care providers lower than market rate fees.  

Our children need more than a place to go. They need high quality early childhood programs. According to Harvard University’s Center on the Development Child, “The science of child development tells us that significant variations in the quality of early care and education programs have the potential to produce lasting repercussions for both children and society as a whole. Evidence points to the beneficial impacts at the highest end of the quality spectrum and to detrimental impacts at the lowest end.”

The proposal is bad for North Carolina. It would hurt small businesses, take away jobs, take away local control, hold down wages, and risk the state’s economic future.

Download this fact sheet and read the following sections to learn more.

Why Now?

What is Subsidy?

What Can You Do?


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Filed under Child Care, Early Childhood, Legislative and Governmental, Uncategorized


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