Immigrant Latinos in rural Illinois have unique child care needs
University of Illinois: As the number of rural immigrant Latino mothers has increased, so has research into their childcare needs. Initial studies have shown that language barriers and access to childcare have prevented many women from seeking employment or better economic opportunities.
"Finding good child care and being able to engage easily in important interactions with your child care provider are critical to any mother's ability to work outside the home. 'Suppose you're living in the rural Midwest and you don't speak English very well. Can you imagine leaving your child with a child care provider if you couldn't communicate well with that person?' said Angela Wiley, a University of Illinois associate professor of applied family studies. 'The immigrant moms we interviewed for this study faced just this dilemma,' she said.
Immigrant Latino mothers in rural areas need child care that meets a certain cultural comfort level, is affordable for them, and is available during shift work, she said. Why the urgent interest in rural Latino families' child care needs? In non-metropolitan areas of Illinois, the Latino population grew by 71 percent between 1990 and 2000, and it has continued to grow.
These statistics caught the eye of administrators at the U of I's Child Care Resource Center in 2008, and they began to study the needs of rural Latino mothers. For these Latinos, basic employability and access to higher-paying jobs are affected by two key challenges: learning English and accessing child care that families feel comfortable with and can afford, she said. A reluctance to seek child care outside the family circle hampers the ability of both parents to find steady work. Although nearly 95 percent of the families would be eligible for child-care subsidies because of their income, only 10 percent of the families report using them, she said."
University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences