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The State of Latino Early Childhood Development: A Research Review



Abstract Many Latino children are at risk of not getting the proper care, services, and environment they need for healthy formative development. Traumatic early experiences, poor nutrition, physical inactivity, and low participation in preschool programs impair Latino children’s social and emotional development, academic achievement, and overall health and wellbeing. But there’s reason for hope. Culturally-sensitive programs and policies can prevent or reduce the effects of traumatic childhood experiences, improve mental health, and boost school readiness. Early childhood development and education programs, breastfeeding and family support, and Latino family values support all have been shown to promote healthy early development. Read the News Release (PDF) Read the ...

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Latino Childhood Development Research: Future Needs


latino boy learning in early education setting

This is part of the Salud America! The State of Latino Early Childhood Development: A Research Review » Further research is needed to identify the barriers to healthy eating in Latino children and evaluate current and new strategies for improving access and adherence to a healthy diet. Studies should also aim to identify the determinants of ACEs in Latino families and evaluate interventions for preventing ACEs and/or mitigating their harmful effects. The use of administrative data, such as Medicaid claims and other service records, may be useful for these studies and may help to target prevention and early intervention for children with or at risk of ACEs. More research is needed to identify the barriers to and predictors of mental health service use among Latino youth and develop ...

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Latino Childhood Development Research: Policy Implications


latino kid fixing a toy

This is part of the Salud America! The State of Latino Early Childhood Development: A Research Review » Conclusions Latino children are at increased risk of poor outcomes in many areas of early childhood development. Factors such as socioeconomic status, parenting behaviors, family structure and environment, childhood experiences, and access to early education programs and health services can influence many aspects of child development. High-quality preschool programs, parent-directed support and education, and family-, school- and community-based programs have all been shown to improve developmental outcomes in Latino children. Preventing, identifying, and helping children and families overcome ACEs can impact a child’s social emotional development and chances of school success. ...

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Latino Childhood Development Research: Strategy—Support Moms


latina mom with baby food bottle

This is part of the Salud America! The State of Latino Early Childhood Development: A Research Review » The Importance of Latina Mothers Although Latino children are generally well adjusted socially and emotionally, several factors may negatively influence their overall health and wellbeing development. These include poverty and/or large households, immigration status, the country of origin, maternal depression,1,146,147 as well as other factors like breastfeeding initiation and duration.148 Read the Salud America! research review about breastfeeding among Latina mothers.148,149 Approaches are emerging on how to address these issues. For example, mental health interventions can be made available to Latina mothers who are displaying negative thought patterns, including anxiety, ...

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Latino Childhood Development Research: Strategy—Family Values


latino toddler kids painting

This is part of the Salud America! The State of Latino Early Childhood Development: A Research Review » Social and Emotional Skill-Building Starts in Families Children begin to develop their social and emotional skills through initial interactions with family. Through strong and consistent relationships, they learn the importance of social bonding, connecting to others with empathy, and self-regulating emotions. Young children begin to learn about complex social interactions by receiving responsive caregiving from parents, which often leads to positive outcomes later in life. Latino Kids' Social and Emotional Health & Family Values One study (N = 7,750; 19% Latino) found that although Latino children may demonstrate cognitive gaps compared with white children after age 1, ...

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Latino Childhood Development Research: Strategy—Reduce Trauma


sad latino boy with mom and doctor

This is part of the Salud America! The State of Latino Early Childhood Development: A Research Review » The Importance of Preventing, Mitigating Trauma Preventing adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and/or mitigating their harmful effects is critical for improving prospects for early child development, and many programs and interventions have been implemented in this regard. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends early screening for developmental and behavioral problems starting at age 9 months through 3 years.38 The Birth to 5: Watch Me Thrive! initiative is a federal effort to promote healthy child development through care collaboration and a system-wide approach, and provides screening resources for families, educators, and various healthcare providers.39 Home ...

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Latino Childhood Development Research: Strategy—School Readiness


frustrated stress anxiety latina student in class

This is part of the Salud America! The State of Latino Early Childhood Development: A Research Review » Head Start Centers as School Readiness Havens Many children attend Head Start programs, which were founded to promote school readiness for children of low-income families. In recent years, the Head Start curriculum has been challenged to enhance children’s language and preliteracy skills using interactive reading with active discussions. One of these programs, the Research-based, Developmentally Informed (REDI) classroom intervention, uses evidence-based curricula that center on preschool attainment of language, preliteracy, and social-emotional skills considered essential for later achievement. In a study of 356 children (17% Latino) enrolled in Head Start programs, ...

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Latino Childhood Development Research: Strategy—Early Care


early care preschool program with diverse kids

This is part of the Salud America! The State of Latino Early Childhood Development: A Research Review » The Benefits of ECE Programs for Kids Children who participate in high-quality early care and education (ECE) programs experience a range of immediate and long-term cognitive and health benefits, with the greatest impact seen in low-income populations.98 Although extensive literature is available on the long-term effects of Head Start and other early childhood development programs on black and white children, the effects of these programs on Latino populations have mostly been ignored.125 Additionally, nearly 40 years ago, it was recognized that cultural differences exist among the different Spanish-speaking people and that different subgroups should be analyzed separately. ...

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Latino Childhood Development Research: Early Care and Education


latino toddler boy shapes in preschool

This is part of the Salud America! The State of Latino Early Childhood Development: A Research Review » Latino Kids Start Developmentally Behind their Peers Although Latino children may be of similar weight at birth and equally able to thrive in the first 2 years of life compared with white children,96 their ability to reason and remember tasks (cognitive processing skills), verbally communicate, and identify letters, numbers, and shapes (preliteracy skills) lessens significantly by age 24 months, and these disparities appear even more prevalent in Mexican-American children than in other Latino subgroups.1 In general, a 15- to 25-percentage point gap exists for Latino children relative to their white peers.97 Children who start behind in kindergarten often stay behind. See more in ...

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