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Immigrants’ kids lack access to basic services

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While children of immigrant families make up 15 percent of children in North Carolina, and 84 percent 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,” a new report says.

The report, by Action for Children North Carolina, looks at obstacles children in immigrant families’ children face in getting access to health insurance coverage, early education and English fluency.

Those obstacles include family economic insecurity stemming from low-wage employment, and lack of access to services because of language or institutional barriers.

“Ensuring that all children have the opportunity to succeed results in stronger communities,” Barb Bradley, president and CEO of Action for Children, says in a statement.

“Preventive measures for all children, like early-childhood education and health insurance are win-wins,” she says. “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 global economy.”

North Carolina is home to 340,000 children in immigrant families, and those children live in nearly all of the state’s 100 counties, with most of them concentrated in the Triad, Triangle and Charlotte metro areas, says the report, Children in Immigrant Families.

Of those children, most are fluent in English and nearly half are bilingual.

Eighty-four percent live in two-parent households, compared to 69 percent of children in U.S.-born families, and over half the parents of immigrant children work, compared to 70 percent of the parents of all children in the state.

The report recommend outreach to families to inform them about resources available to children; early-education programs that are culturally and linguistically appropriate; making English courses more available to linguistically-isolated families; improving enrollment into comprehensive pre-school programs; and providing access to job-skills training and placement services for living-wage jobs.

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