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Children of Black Immigrants Faring Well in Early Years, Study Finds

The U.S.-born children of black immigrants from Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America display strong signs of school readiness, compared to their native-born black peers and children born to Hispanic immigrants, a new study concludes.

Analyzing data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study Birth Cohort—which collected extensive information from a nationally representative sample of more than 10,000 children from birth to school entry—researchers Danielle Crosby and Angel Dunbar from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro found several factors that contribute to the early school successes of children of black immigrants. Their report was released today by the Washington-based Migration Policy Institute.

The data show that children of black immigrants are more likely to come from families with high rates of marriage, parental education and employment, and English proficiency. Their mothers are also less likely to have abused drugs or alcohol during pregnancy and more likely to have breastfed, all of which lead to better health outcomes for young children, the report says.

Black immigrant parents also report strong support for education and were more likely to enroll their children in center-based care during the preschool years. Caribbean-immigrant parents, in particular, reported that choosing center-based care for their children was an important step toward preparing them for kindergarten, the authors said.

As is the case with the children of other immigrant groups, preschool teachers reported that children of black immigrants display fewer problem behaviors in the classroom than other native-born peers.

Poverty, however, does impact black immigrant children, the authors found. More than half of such children come from low-income families and experience more disadvantage than their children-of-immigrant peers from Europe and Asia, and native-born white children.

Though 12 percent of all black children living in the U.S. are first- or second-generation immigrants, the authors contend that little research has been done on this population to understand their health and development, especially in the early years. Their study—which offers much more than what I've summed up here—seeks to fill that knowledge gap.

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