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Latino State News

Fewer Latino Children Attending Pre-school

A new study released Tuesday, says that in Illinois, just over one in three Latino children attend pre-school. This is compared to more than half of African-American children and about two-thirds of white and Asian children. The national average is 48 percent overall.

The study’s author, Bruce Fuller, director of the Institute of Human Development at the University of California, said the lower number is due to various reasons. While the black community and faith-based groups have pushed pre-school for over 40 years, but Illinois’ Latino communities have been slower to do the same.

Another issue could be that parents fear sending their children to strangers who do not speak their language, and worry about questioning of legal status. Though the subject is off-limits in pre-schools it may come up in accompanying child-care applications.

First-generation Latinos also follow the tradition of not sending their children to pre-school, but instead rely on grandparents or other family members that live “just around the corner.”

Fuller’s study also found that, among Illinois’ 4-year-olds in the 2005-2006 school year, 66 percent f whites, 63 percent of Asians, 54 percent of African-Americans, and only 35 percent of Latinos were attending preschool.

Due in large part to lack of pre-schooling, Latino children enter kindergarten five months behind whites, while African-America kindergarteners come in about three or four months behind.

The study also pointed out that fewer Latino parents read to their children than other ethnic groups.