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New Report Corrects Misperceptions about Children from Immigrant Families

Aug 15, 2007

OAKLAND, CA – 85% of children from immigrant families in California are citizens and three-quarters of them are bilingual, according to a new report released today by Children Now, a leading nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring that all children thrive. The report, entitled Children in Immigrant Families: A California Data Brief, also highlights the difficult, additional challenges faced by immigrant children and their families, such as barriers to English language acquisition and lower rates of health insurance coverage versus their non-immigrant peers.

“Learning English and access to health care are absolutely critical to immigrant children’s lifetime success,” said Corey Newhouse, Children Now’s senior policy associate and the report’s author. “We should ensure that children have an opportunity to learn English beginning in preschool and provide health insurance to all children now. These preventative measures will save taxpayers a great deal of money over the long term.”

The report presents the most current data available on the health, education and family well-being of children in California’s immigrant families, who represent 51% of the state’s total child population. Significant differences between immigrant and non-immigrant children are highlighted, including:

Nearly 60% of 3- and 4-year-olds in immigrant households do not attend preschool, compared to about half of children in non-immigrant households.
10% of children in immigrant families do not have health insurance, compared to 3% of their non-immigrant peers.
39% of immigrant households are low-income (earning less than 200% of the federal poverty level), compared to 25% of non-immigrant households.
“It becomes exponentially more difficult and expensive to make up lost preventative health and formative education ground later in a child’s life,” said Ted Lempert, Children Now’s president. “Addressing these issues early in a child’s life is the key to success.”

Governor Schwarzenegger and the state legislature are currently considering providing health coverage to all California’s kids and expanding access to effective preschool.

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