How can preschool programs best serve children who are new to this country or whose first language is not English? A training session is providing answers.
The Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) and the Office of Refugees and Immigrants (ORI) are offering a session called “New Start: Supporting Multilingual Young Children and Immigrant and Refugee Families.”
The training session is run by MIRA and the Multilingual Action Council (MAC) at the Aspire Institute in Wheelock College.
The one-day session addresses a substantial need.
“In Massachusetts more than one in four children under the age of six live in a multi-lingual household, so focusing on meaningfully engaging these families in their children’s development will help to ensure the best outcomes for our young learners,” according to Jennifer Amaya-Thompson, the Head Start State Collaboration Office Director at EEC.
An EEC announcement adds, “In order to prepare children for school success in immigrant and refugee families, a focus on early learning for these children and meaningful engagement of their parents and communities is essential.”
The goal is “to equip providers, stakeholders and other professionals with knowledge on immigration policy as it impacts children and families, cultural competency, and child development and educational principles in the context of multilingual homes and multicultural environments.”
The session covers:
• Immigrant and Refugee Demographics at the regional and state levels
• ABC’s of Immigration and Refugee Law and Policy and its impact on children and families
• Immigration Status and Access to Benefits
•Accessing Education: Supporting Dual Language Learner’s School Readiness from birth to college,
• Cultural Competency and Family Engagement: Parents as partners, and
• Being a Resource for Families and Connecting Families to Local Services and Resources
So far, the session has proven to be timely and popular.
“We’ve been thrilled with the level of interest in the New Start trainings,” Jeff Gross explains. He’s the director of the New Americans Integration Institute at the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA).
Gross says that in the past two years, the sessions have “reached more than 600 participants from over 250 different organizations — including teachers, childcare providers, EEC staff, social workers, staff at community-based organizations, educators from K-12 and higher education institutions, and many others. There’s a huge desire and need for up to date information, tools, and best practice models on working with these children and their families in EEC settings. We’re proud to partner with the EEC department and Office for Refugees and Immigrants to help meet this need.”
Gross discusses the issue further in this BNN (Boston Neighborhood News) video.
Early education programs can also help families become more active in their communities.
In fact, MIRA and the National Partnership for new Americans have set a goal of increasing access to preschool programs, because “early education serves as a locus of integration for an entire immigrant family.”
To find out more, please contact Gross at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Can’t make it to this training session? Don’t worry, additional sessions will be offered in 2015.
The training session is funded by the federal Race to The Top Early Learning Challenge grant, and participants can earn Continuing Education Units (CEU) and EEC Professional Development hours.