Discussion: Overcoming Barriers—Awareness, Accessibility, and Responsiveness
Despite the interest in quality care and education for young children expressed by representatives from many different professional realms, the issue remains that it is an undeniable fact that there are families in this country for whom quality care and education for their children remain unattainable. Though the families affected cut across all ethnic backgrounds and socio-economic levels, minority and immigrant families form the two largest groups experiencing barriers. The nature of these barriers is well documented: families’ lack of awareness about available programs, difficulties in accessing quality programs, inadequate program responses to the strengths and needs of diverse families.
The article “Early Education Programs and Children of Immigrants: Learning Each Other’s Language,” by Matthews and Ewen, discusses the implications of these barriers for children of immigrant families and/or dual-language learners. The authors provide a thoughtful analysis of each of the three equity barriers mentioned above. They describe reasons for a lack of awareness, factors that stand in the way of full program participation, and challenges that prevent programs from responding effectively to diverse family and child needs.
You have probably heard the following saying: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one small step.” The Discussion this week addresses the small steps early childhood professionals can take toward removing these barriers for young children and their families. Professionals in every field tackle issues in a variety of ways. Your task is to conceive of and develop at least three practical solutions to the problems resulting from one of the three barriers. Use the following steps to guide you through this assignment:
- Project yourself into the future as an early childhood professional with a specific role or, if you are currently working in the profession, you can think of your role now. Envision yourself as an early childhood teacher, a center director, a university professor in charge of training future EC professionals, a child advocate, or see yourself in any other position in the early childhood field—the choice is yours. ( My role would be Center Director)
- You have just learned that the White House Council for Early Childhood has begun an initiative to tackle issues related to Awareness, Accessibility, and Responsiveness. Approach the following directions under the assumption that you are writing a grant for the reduction of equity barriers to be financed by the White House Council for Early Childhood.
- Review the conversation with Delila Vasquez in which she describes the realities of finding and accessing quality care and education for young children. Let her ideas and insights guide you as you continue with this assignment.
- Review the article “Early Education Programs and Children of Immigrants: Learning Each Other’s Language,” paying particular attention first to the general context provided about early childhood care and education, and then to the section that elaborates on the three equity barriers: awareness, accessibility, and responsiveness.
- Reflect on your professional and/or personal interest in any of these three barriers, and decide on which one you would most like to focus.
- Once you have chosen your focus, review in depth the reasons for this barrier’s existence.
- Using the perspective of the early childhood professional role you specified earlier, develop at least three suggestions that would be part of a plan that addresses any or all of the reasons for inequity related to your chosen barrier, and suggest specific ways to eliminate the barrier.
- A cover page addressed to the White House Council in which you briefly state your (assumed) position in the EC field and the barrier on which you have chosen to focus as well as the reasons for your choice (about a paragraph in length)
- Your suggestions for eliminating the barrier
- Any insight(s) and/or new learning you gained from preparing for this assignment about these issues