Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Kids Count Report for Nebraska focuses on immigrants

A Kids Count report was just released for the state of Nebraska, and this year it focuses on immigrant children. The report issued from Voices for Children says that there are many barriers that prevent immigrant children from becoming productive adults.

The Kids Count report blames the barriers for immigrant children on restrictive laws and policies. Many of the children are US citizens because they were born in the states, however their parents might not be US citizens. The parents of these children avoid seeking services for their kids out of fear of being deported away.

From the CT Post, Jean Ortiz of the Associated Press unpacks the report for us.

In 2007, some 52,000 children — nearly 12 percent of all Nebraska's kids — were born in another country or had at least one foreign-born parent. Some 85 percent of those children are U.S. citizens, the nonprofit group said in its report.

A year earlier, 61 percent belonged to low-income families. Advocates say children in low-income households face the greatest risk of receiving low-quality child care, having inadequate nutrition, being uninsured and growing up in an unsafe neighborhood. They are also the kids most likely to end up in the juvenile justice system.

Some 64 percent of immigrant children lived with parents who had difficulty speaking English in 2007, according to the report. Those parents often struggle to navigate the school system or access health care and other services for their children, meaning that their offspring could miss opportunities for improvement and better health.

It also means those children have to shoulder more responsibility, said Mark Mather with the Population Reference Bureau, who has studied the issue on a national scope.

"What we have here is a generation of translators," he said. "These kids are kind of between two worlds."

Children of illegal immigrants are even more vulnerable because their parents are too scared to access public services for their children for fear of being discovered and deported, the report found.

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