Refugee children come from a wide variety of countries and experiences. One common denominator is the stressful hardship they have faced as a result of fleeing the one place that they called 'home.' According to research supported by the Migration Policy Institute, Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) provides a crucial piece in the cognitive, psychosocial, and physical development of these vulnerable children; early childhood programming also boosts the overall long-term integration success in schools, community, and eventually the workforce. Not only do ECEC programs help mitigate risk factors (socio-emotional development, physical stress, poverty, and language gaps for refugee and immigrant children), but they are also instrumental in the integration of parents into their new community. Conclusively, early childhood education programs are a win for the successful integration of the entire family unit. BELONG NC is honored to create a place of consistency, security, and hope for refugee children and their families by providing intentional programming for vulnerable children, a safe space, and a greater awareness of the support of their new community.
Early childhood education and care services (ECEC) provide social and education opportunities for refugee children who have experienced stress and trauma at an early age.
ECEC programs are well-positioned to build relationships with parents and families, thus supporting integration goals and promoting social cohesion.
20% of ECEC workers are immigrants, yet the linguistic and cultural diversity brought to the field is limited to lower-skilled and lower-paying sectors. Few immigrants hold leadership positions as center directors or work as prekindergarten teachers.
In 2015, reports suggested that immigrant (foreign-born) women comprised 7% of the American workforce. While this number may seem low at first glance, their rate of entry into the workforce (55.6%) was nearly equal to native-born women (58.5%). This suggests that immigrant women have the same goals, needs, and dreams of native-born women, set examples for their children, and financially contribute to the overall household income while simultaneously raising their children. According to the American Community Survey (ACS), 33% of these women hold a bachelor's degree or higher, while greater than 40% have a high school diploma or less. As with native-born women, their diverse educational profile is exhibited in the variety of jobs they hold. While many of these positions offer lower paying wages, their roles are vital to the overall US economy. Some barriers to employment are universal for primary caretakers: daily household management, childcare, and caring for dependent adults to name a few. Others are more prevalent to the immigrant community: language, workforce experience and understanding, and community connections. BELONG NC aims to help immigrant women overcome these specific, native-born barriers, enabling them to enter the workforce with greater confidence. Our job coaching program, ECLIT (Empowering Caregivers through Language Immersion and Training), focuses on language immersion and job skills training, thus encouraging caregivers to take on leadership roles in the organization and community. We believe that all women should have the training they need to join their community workforce with confidence and support.
Approximately 11.8 million immigrant women accounted for 7.3 percent of the U.S. labor force in 2015.
Among immigrant women, those from Africa had the highest rate of labor-force participation (65.6 percent), followed by those from Latin America (56.7 percent), Asia (55 percent), and Europe (49.6 percent).
One-fifth of immigrant women workers earned poverty-level wages in 2015 ($11,770 per year or less)—significantly higher than the 13.5 percent poverty rate of the U.S. population as a whole.
Responding to the ECEC Needs of Children of Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Europe and North America (migrationpolicy.org)
Immigrant and Refugee Workers in the Early Childhood Field: Taking a Closer Look (migrationpolicy.org)