Minnesota’s Superdiverse and Growing Dual Language Learner Child Population

Caitlin Katsiaficas & Maki Park
Date of Publication: 
November, 2018
Source Organization: 
Migration Policy Institute

Minnesota is experiencing a “diversification of diversity” due to its growing immigrant and refugee populations. About 21 percent of children ages zero to eight have parents who speak a language other than English, and there are hundreds of languages spoken across the state. From 2011 to 2015, there were 136,000 of these Dual Language Learners (DLLs) from diverse backgrounds, including many children from refugee backgrounds. Of these DLLs, 32 percent spoke Spanish, 10 percent spoke Hmong, and nine percent spoke Cushitic languages such as Somali and Oromo. Other widely-spoken languages included: Chinese, Vietnamese, and Arabic. This diversity has important implications for early childhood education and care (ECEC) policies and programs. In the research for Minnesota’s Superdiverse and Growing Dual Language Learner Child Population, the Migration Policy Institute interviewed state ECEC policymakers and local service providers and analyzed U.S. Census Bureau data to determine demographic, linguistic and economic characteristics of these children and their families. The report also focuses on two understudied and diverse subgroups: Asian American and Pacific Islander (39,000) and Black (30,000) DLLs. The report finds that Minnesota has tried to improve access to ECEC including expanding its Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten (VPK) and School Readiness Plus programs. However, it concludes that challenges remain in ensuring that the ECEC workforce is prepared for the children it serves, that the needs of these children are properly identified and assessed, and that families are fully engaged with the educational process. It suggests that the state’s policymakers and administrators “improve system-wide capacities to provide equitable and effective services to children” of all backgrounds. (American Immigrant Policy Portal)

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Katsiaficas, C. & Park, M. (2018). Minnesota’s Superdiverse and Growing Dual Language Learner Child Population. Washington, DC: Migration Policy Institute. Retrieved from https://www.migrationpolicy.org/research/minnesota-superdiverse-dual-language-learners