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Community Contexts and Utilization of Early Childhood Care and Education among Mexican-Origin Children.

Abstract

Children of Mexican origin are under-enrolled in early childhood education programs relative to Black and White children, which is problematic given the potential benefits of early childhood education. o better understand this under-enrollment in ways that can inform efforts to change it in the future, this study examined how utilization of early care and education programs varied among Mexican-origin families according to the community contexts where they lived. Integrating data on Mexican-origin children in the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study- Birth Cohort (n = 1,100) with community data from the U.S. Census Bureau, logistic regressions revealed that the odds of enrollment in early care and education programs among Mexican-origin children increased as the supply of childcare centers in their counties increased. Holding childcare center supply constant, their enrollment also increased as the percent of co-ethnic Latinos/as in the county increased, especially for children from the least acculturated Mexican-origin families. Overall, these results suggest that ethnic enclaves might link Mexican-origin families to early childhood care and education programs for their children and that this role might be most important for families least likely to be connected to U.S. institutions.

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