National Skills Coalition was pleased to be part of a recent convening on “Two-Generation Strategies to Help Immigrant Families and Children.” Facilitated by the Center for Law and Social Policy and supported by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the event brought together more than 50 leaders in the fields of immigration, workforce development, and early childhood education, among others.
The focus: Understanding how two-generation approaches – those that take into account the needs of both parents and children – can help improve the prospects of immigrant families in the United States.
The convening design featured crisp, cogent overviews of discussion topics by expert presenters, followed by short responses and then open discussion facilitated by CLASP executive director Olivia Golden. Key workforce and adult education issues included:
- How to ensure that the needs and aspirations of immigrant workers are incorporated into state plans for the new Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). Should immigrant-serving organizations advocate to be included at the planning table? Or should so-called “mainstream” institutions take the lead in inviting a broader array of planners to the table, acknowledging that in many parts of the US, immigrants are the mainstream?
- Potential models for providing co-located and meaningfully integrated services for parents and children. Juan Salgado, executive director of Instituto del Progreso Latino and an NSC board member, described his organization’s multi-part approach to uniting childcare, adult education and other services. A core benefit: On-site services for children mean that parents can participate at the level of intensity needed (five hours per day, five days per week) to move from a 4th grade reading level to a Licensed Practical Nurse credential.
- How to facilitate the ability of 400,000 prospective applicants for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to meet the program’s educational requirements. Data from the Migration Policy Institute affirms that these individuals already meet all other DACA eligibility requirements, but must still enroll in a training program, GED/high school equivalency class or similar opportunity in order to obtain DACA status and work authorization. NSC discussed this issue in our recent Missing in Action report. Past immigration research has also affirmed the powerful role of obtaining work authorization in building economic stability.
- Ways to foster shared approaches to barriers and opportunities across immigrant and US-born communities. CLASP director of youth policy Kisha Bird gave examples of how an intentional focus on these issues can identify commonalities faced by people of color regardless of nativity, while still acknowledging genuine differences in experience.
- How to ensure that WIOA’s newly expanded focus on out-of-school youth addresses the particular assets and barriers of immigrant young adults. A full 75% of WIOA youth funds are now being dedicated to the out-of-school category – defined as those aged 16-24 who are neither enrolled in school nor working. As CLASP convening participants pointed out, immigrant young adults in this category may themselves be parents, thus adding complexity to their ability to participate in training programs and urgency to their need for family-sustaining employment.
These are just a handful of the many rich discussion items raised at the convening. NSC looks forward to the upcoming release of a brief summarizing other important topics, to be issued by CLASP and the Casey Foundation.
Upcoming Webinars and Trainings!
NSC will be presenting information about WIOA and immigrant workers in several venues this spring. Keep an eye out for upcoming registration information.
- April 29-30: Training for National Council of La Raza affiliates in Miami, FL. NSC staff will present a two-day hands-on training session providing an update on the WIOA legislation and draft regulations, with deeper dives into the topics of youth services, career pathways, and policy advocacy.
- May 13: Webinar with IMPRINT on the implications of WIOA for immigrant professionals. Register here.
- May 28: Webinar with Welcoming America on what cities need to know about WIOA and immigrant integration (registration link not yet available).