However, amidst these challenges lie opportunities to foster inclusivity, support budding childcare entrepreneurs, and bridge linguistic gaps to ensure every child and caregiver receives the care and support they deserve. This blog delves into the multifaceted barriers obstructing childcare access and the pathways to overcome them, emphasizing the pivotal role language plays in this landscape.
Choosing a Child Care Provider
The process of choosing a child care provider is a very important undertaking for parents and guardians. For some, this process is especially daunting due to barriers such as a lack of knowledge of available choices (often stemming from parents and caregivers not understanding the language in email, printed materials, and other communications). According to the United States Census Bureau, 21.5 percent of people in the U.S. speak a language other than English at home. Additionally, 13.2 percent speak Spanish at home.[i]
This means that a considerable portion of our population may require some level of language assistance or translated materials during their search for childcare and while their children are enrolled in the centers. The Hispanic Research Center notes that the “…search process is more burdensome for Hispanic households, particularly if language barriers make it more difficult for them to access information about care. Prior work has documented that Hispanic families are more likely to report difficulties with accessing ECE for reasons that include language…”[ii]
Addressing Availability and Child Care Deserts
How do we acknowledge that people, especially children and caregivers, are important to us? We communicate with them, we make them feel seen, and we acknowledge their needs. Recognizing the various language needs of the families served in childcare settings often plays a major role in building a good relationship with parents and caregivers. Reducing cultural barriers can foster a more welcoming environment for families and children and result in a more inclusive childcare center.
Another key pain point for parents is the availability of childcare in their communities. According to the Center for American Progress, 51 percent of people in the United States live in a childcare desert.[iii] One way to increase the number of available childcare openings is by increasing opportunities for community members to start their own registered childcare businesses, like a Family Childcare Center (or in-home childcare). For some, the language barrier can restrict them from doing so and providing a much-needed service to their community. The availability of applications, training, mentorship, and professional development in other languages would increase community members’ ability to start and sustain their own childcare businesses and continue their professional development.
Meeting Diverse Needs
Let’s circle back to relationships with childcare centers. Parents often look to teachers, doctors, and other professionals for expertise about child rearing and childcare. However, parents should understand that they are also experts on their own children and that the childcare and healthcare providers are part of their tribe, their teammates in raising their child. Children often behave differently when they are at home because they feel they can “unwind”, so maintaining an open dialogue is an important factor in maintaining consistency for the child.
Exploring a variety of holidays and other cultural celebrations is a great way to embrace the wonderful differences that make us all unique. Asking families who enroll about their cultural traditions is a great way to forecast lessons. However, inclusivity in childcare and education settings can mean more than cultural exploration. Building an inclusive childcare center can mean increasing parental involvement by informing parents and caregivers about their child’s development and day-to-day activities by communicating with them in a language they can understand, thus reducing linguistic barriers.
Solutions and a Way Forward
Centers can remove language barriers in different ways. The first option is to hire bilingual staff who speak the language that your families understand. To anticipate language needs, childcare providers and directors may wish to create a home language survey (like the process in many public schools). However, in very diverse cities, the languages spoken by families may outnumber the number of languages spoken by center staff. Likewise, center staff may not be trained in proper translation and interpreting techniques.
Another option is to contract with a language services provider who can provide interpretation and translation as needed. These services could be used for periodic check-ins, flyers, daily communications, and much more. Having a variety of center communication templates pre-translated can help save time and future changes could be limited to dates, numbers, and other simple information. Many language services providers offer video or telephone interpreting, reducing the costs and wait time to schedule an appointment for language services.
Please note that relying on older siblings, family members, neighbors, and other community members is not ideal because they are not neutral parties to the communication. When family members are used as translators or interpreters, they may omit information because they do not deem it important, to avoid relaying uncomfortable news, or simply because they do not have the vocabulary to relay the entire message.
At Strata Language Services, we are here to help break down barriers and facilitate efficient communication by providing translation and interpretation services in-person, by telephone, or by video.
Strata Language Services, LLC delivers premium translation/interpretation services to organizations that interact with and serve Spanish speaking communities.
With native language speakers on staff, the company provides highly accurate translations with fast turnaround times.
Strata Language Services uses the most current technologies in order to ensure reliable and consistent translations. Investing in both our employees and clients, the company is dedicated to consistently achieving high customer satisfaction.
Please visit us at www.stratalang.com to learn more about our services.