Webinar: Sensitive Locations and Beyond

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hello everyone and welcome to take two of today's webinar sensitive locations and beyond thank you all so much for putting up with the technical difficulties that we were experiencing earlier we're really glad that you're here today and are looking forward to the webinar today which will also be made available as a recording for those of you who are unable to join today's webinar is on sensitive locations and beyond where na na ey C and our partners at the Center for Law and Social Policy are going to be sharing information about the roles and responsibilities of early childhood educators working with children and undocumented families I'm Lauren Hogan senior director of public policy and advocacy at NAU I see and I do want to thank you all for joining us this is a webinar for educators and providers in the field so we're going to make it as short and to the point as we can so that we can get you back to some of the very same kids and families that we're talking about here today today's webinar is about the children and families in our communities it is not about politics regardless of your positions on immigration policy if you're an early childhood educator in the field then you are connected to the research and the values and our professional code of ethics that tell us why it's important to be prepared to work with children living in families with undocumented members it is part of the core of who we are as early childhood educators to recognize the children are best understood and supported in the context of family culture community and society and to respect the dignity Worth and uniqueness of each individual in na ey C is new draft position statement on advancing equity and diversity we elevate our belief that early childhood educators have a professional and moral obligation to advance equity and diversity varying critical though obviously not sole responsibility for ensuring that all children have access to the learning environment materials and interactions they need to thrive these responsibilities are taking on new weight in today's climate we're 25 percent of children under age 6 are members of an immigrant family to dispel any myths about who these children are 94% of them are US citizens there are nearly 6 million citizen children under the age of 18 living with an undocumented family member 1.6 million of whom are under age 5 these are often children who are living under the near constant threat of family deportation happening as you can see on the slide and we'll talk later about the impact of trauma and the need to support children and educators in today's context you'll hear us use different terminologies today but they will include mixed-status families meaning some members are citizens and some members are not as well as unauthorized and undocumented immigrants we will not use the terms illegal nor alien and as early childhood educators with responsibilities to embrace the humanity and strengths of all families and children we serve both immigrant and not we recommend avoidance of those terms for your own work as well family focusing on a few questions that many of you have posed to us and to each other for example what does it mean to be a sensitive location how should you handle immigration enforcement actions at or near your programs how do you collect information while respecting privacy and confidentiality and meeting families comprehensive needs and how can you support staff members who are feeling stressed and overwhelmed we will not be taking live questions today but if you have some please feel free to enter them into the chat box in the webinar or to email advocacy at na e YC orgs and we will follow up if we have enough questions on a single topic we'll also create some follow-up materials to share with everyone along with a recording of this webinar which will be made widely available now to walk us through all these questions with our expertise and guidance I'm delighted to be able to welcome my good friends and colleagues Lussier SEO senior policy analyst at na ey C as well as Hannah Matthews the deputy executive director for policy at the Center for Law and Social Policy or clasp and Rebecca over the policy analyst for child care and early childhood education also at clasp Becca how do you kick us off by telling us a little bit more about what this language of sensitive locations means whose designation is this and what can and can't happen at a sensitive location sure thanks Lauren so agencies within the Department of Homeland Security including Immigration and Customs Enforcement or ice and Customs and Border Patrol or CBP have lost anding internal guidance restricting immigration enforcement actions at sensitive locations this means that except in limited circumstances immigration agents should not conduct apprehensions arrest interviews searches or surveillance for the purposes of immigration enforcement in places like schools churches hospitals and other health care facilities the idea is that anyone regardless of their immigration status should be able to carry out basic activities and access services that are essential to their health and safety without fear of enforcement in the next slide please importantly the Department of Homeland Security definition of schools for the purposes of sensitive locations policy includes known and licensed early childhood programs such as childcare preschool pre-k and headstart so what does that mean for early childhood providers first as a sensitive location you are entitled to turn away an immigration agent if they try to enter your program or request information about a parent or staff member without a warrant if an agent does attempt to conduct enforcement actions at or near your program you should report it to a local state or national immigrants rights organization you should also make sure that parents and staff are aware of the sensitive locations policy and know that your program is considered a sensitive location Becca I know that you talk about known and licensed programs I was wondering if you could tell us what the implications for programs who are licensed exempt and what about family childcare homes are they sensitive locations as well so that's a great question and unfortunately ice and CBP have not provided a concrete definition of what they mean by known and licensed we believe that known is less about whether a program is registered or regulated in some way and more about whether an agent would know that the facility is a childcare or preschool program by looking at it so a licensed exempt childcare center housed in a church for example would definitely fall under the policy however we can't say for certain that any home-based program licensed regulated or otherwise would be considered a sensitive location next slide please so can from leadership at ice and CBP suggest that agents are still expected to follow this policy however reports of enforcement actions taking place near churches hospitals and schools suggest that the policy is not being consistently enforced or at best is being interpreted very narrowly in either case the spirit of the policy is certainly being violated that's why it's so important to have a plan in place to safeguard your program in case of an enforcement action make sure staff understand that unless an immigration agent cites emergency circumstances related to national security or public safety they should not be allowed into your facility without a warrant here are a few things to consider as you develop your plan first designate a staff member who is responsible for speaking with the agent determine whether there are other staff members perhaps in leadership outside the center or board members with legal expertise that need to be notified of the agents presence finally what steps will you take to ensure that the visit causes as little disruption as possible having a plan goes a long way in ensuring that everyone is prepared in the moment staff should remain calm and try to avoid the possibility of cheat children seeing or coming into contact with the agent as much as possible have a way to notify parents of the ages arrival and departure as well so can you help us by maybe painting a little bit of picture of like what actually happens when an immigration agent shows up so we're asking them to sort of protect kids and we're asking folks to understand how to talk to parents what does it look like when an immigration agent shows up to make an arrest or an enforcement action sure so it's important to think about the actual physical location of an early childhood program most programs are generally secure facilities so visitors have to be buzzed in to even enter the building or to get beyond a certain point you don't have to let an agent inside or beyond that kind of cut point the designated staff person can speak with agents either outside the facility or in the waiting area and let them know that your program has a procedure that you are required to follow for the safety of your children staff and parents the designated staff person should request the agent's credentials written approval from their supervisor permitting access to the facility the reason for the visit and the warrant to enter the facility for this purpose if the agent doesn't have all of those things then you can ask them to leave in the mean time other staff members should ensure that administrators directors and classroom teachers are made aware that an agent is on the premises again as much as possible children should be kept away and out of sight of the agent but with that being said we want to reiterate that agents are more likely to be near your program so somewhere in the neighborhood or down the street then they are to actually come and knock on your door so with staffs become aware that ice or CBP agents are in the neighborhood you should take precautions bring children inside if the playground is visible from the street consider alerting parents and revising drop off or pick up procedures if necessary and contact an immigrants rights organization in your community for support you mentioned some of the words and phrases that some of the teachers and directors might be able to use if they are encountering an immigration agent who's coming to their door and I was just wonder if you had any additional suggestions I think I can imagine it might be a little difficult for folks to do this in the moment and I think anything we can do to help prepare words and phrases that we can draw upon as we need them would be really helpful do you have any additional suggestions and it's definitely great to think about what you might say in advance and have a few things kind of practiced and written down because you're right in the moment it could be really difficult to turn an age in a way I recommend politely reminding the officer that as an early childhood program you are protected by the sensitive locations policy you can tell them that their presence at your facility is disruptive to the normal operations of your program which is caring and educating for young children and request that they leave immediately thanks Becca I know that all of our folks are really used to having difficult conversations both with kids and with families and Hannah we talk all the time about family engagement relationship building and how we need educators to really get to know their families can you talk us through why that matters with immigrant and undocumented families in particular right now and what their needs are related to privacy confidentiality and communications absolutely thanks Lauren so above all it's really important that we and that we are really sending messages to families that early childhood programs can be safe and trusted resources and we're going to talk about all of the ways in which you might be able to do that one thing that we've really heard is that it's important that program leadership sees immigration as a core issue and pay attention to how and they impact families when staff and families see that this is an area of concern and that program directors are taking steps to make all families feel welcome they really make families feel safer attending programs and also make them more likely to seek support for range of needs many of which we'll talk about some programs have done this through written statements about diversity or inclusivity and have shared with information with families or posted information like that in their programs it's also another way of demonstrating this is to make sure to provide information about immigration policy changes or basic information about immigrants rights this not only is important to give to families to help them understand what's going on but it also demonstrates the interest and the concern of the program for the well-being of its families now because families may keep their immigration status private and programs should certainly not be asking about immigration status it's important that information be accessible and be shared with all families so you might consider making it openly available in an entry area this way families don't have to request information themselves and self-identify you might also think about having a point person to be a resource on immigration someone who can stay up to date on current events and share them as appropriate with families and of course whenever possible is always important to make resources available in multiple languages right now a lot of the fear that we're hearing about in immigrant communities oftentimes has to do with concerns related to personal information being shared and disclosed to government agencies and shared with immigration agents so it's really important to take very seriously all of those state and federal privacy laws that you're following again most of your programs have different funding streams they're going to have different rules related to data and privacy this is a very good time to review those rules to make sure that you're in compliance and also to review your internal procedures just to make sure that you're following all of these laws it's also a good idea to consider whether you have appropriate procedures in place to respect confidentiality even internal internally so who has access to information on families is that written down it's a really good idea to make sure that you're taking extra precautions right now in this highly sensitive time you also want to make sure that you're not asking for information that you don't need so for example children's eligibility for early childhood programs for health and nutrition programs is not dependent on a parent's immigration status so programs should for the most part not be asking about immigration status of parents you may consider whether or not additional procedures can be put in place so can you offer guidance to staff who are doing enrollment and intake to make sure that they know what questions are permissible to ask and that they're not asking anything in addition we've also found that because program families can be very concerned about what information they have to decloak that it's really important to not just make sure that these procedures and policies are in place but that you're explaining them to parents so we all know that when you do enrollment and particularly for programs that are connecting families with other benefits programs safety net programs there's a lot of information that's being asked for it's really important to explain to families what the reason is for asking for information why documents are being provided and what's done with that information this reassurance can really keep families in programs if they understand why that information is necessary thanks Anna that's really helpful I think we've all we've all signed privacy documents in doctors offices and lots of different places sometimes without looking at it and I think that point to just make sure that we're talking this through with families is really important so that they feel understood and that trust can be established they know that their information is being safeguarded and protected and especially when their their concerns and their fears may be heightened I think it's important to go out of our way to think about what data we actually are collecting and not just to leave sometimes I think we leave things on forms just because they've been there for a long time and going through and really thinking about why we're collecting certain bits of information and whether or not it's really necessary sends all kinds of messages to the families on the receiving end I just wanted to highlight one of the ways in which as an accreditation system we emphasize the confidentiality and our standards I know there are accredited programs who are tuning in and thinking about this from their perspective this is something that's already built into what you're doing as a place to build from that there is a lot of guidance around and expectations for the respect for confidentiality of information that there are clear written policies concerning confidentiality of family information and that those policies are communicated these are all places and there are lots of other programs in different settings that have confidentiality expectations in place and this is just a way to build on and acknowledge the work that's already being done I'm going to go ahead and turn it over to Lucy as we sort of think about meeting the comprehensive visa families as well thanks so much Lauren and so as we turn towards with programs and educators can do to support children families and each other I like to take a moment Hannah for us to start thinking about families needs I want to begin by acknowledging that program leaders and educators simply may not know if the children and their programs are living in homes where someone is undocumented I'm going to ask you to talk a little about how understanding that some families may be dealing with the challenges of being undocumented whether programs know it or not might affect the way educators and directors address issues and opportunities to work with families and I'll start by giving just a couple of examples of what I mean take home visiting for example undocumented families might feel particularly uneasy with that at this time how could a program react without further stigmatizing could all families be given an option to meet at a local park or library instead of at their homes for example or let's think about how undocumented families are anxious about driving and how they might affect their ability to have their children at school on time and in compliance with attendance policies how can educators rethink their work with families and immigration realities in mind so that's a great question and I think the examples that you gave are also really important examples of programs that can really help to think about how we can intentionally change practices to really meet the needs of families one thing that I want to reiterate that that you said was that it may not be possible to know what immigration issues families are concerned about and I want to add on to that a little bit because in this current environment even though we're talking a lot about mixed status families that have undocumented household members we also have to realize that there have been many policy proposals that have been targeted to legal immigrants and their families as well so when we talk about the fear of families in engaging with government services with early childhood programs with other entities we really are talking about a large set of immigrant families who have who may be reluctant to use these programs so I just want to consider that so again you don't want to be asking families specifically about what immigration challenges they may be having or about the status of themselves or their household members but what we do want to do is think about all of the ways that you collect information already on families needs and then start to look through it through the lens of immigration so to give an example we in some field work that we've done related to this issue we had a program tell us about an annual survey of parents that they do around the needs for resources that parents might need in 2017 those survey responses looked very different than previous years all of a sudden support for stress and anxiety were requested from a large number of parents now if you're in an immigrant community it may be that something like this seeing increases in anxiety among parents are a symptom of struggles that families are facing related to immigration so that might lead you to think about whether or not there are new resources you can provide perhaps related to mental health but also may be related to connecting families to legal assistance on immigration and family law or information on immigrant rights so what we want to do is kind of consider all of the ways that we have information about families and think about the context one thing we also heard quite frequently in the work that we did was to hear about families withdrawing from early childhood programs or families not attending consistently they might stay home when there have been raids or even rumored raids in communities so it's really important to understand what's happening in terms of the local context whether or not families are having issues driving in places because local police might be cooperating with ISAT traffic stops whether or not there are other workplace raise happening in communities so really unpacking the unique circumstance of your community is important here that means both talking to parents trying to understand what's happening but also reaching out and having conversations with community partners in every community there are going to be immigration organizations churches other community groups that can help you understand what's happening locally and how it might be impacting families and then from there I'm sure you all will come up with any number of creative ideas to really think think through those individual challenges so for example where transportation is an issue maybe it's around helping families to create car pools maybe it's about providing transportation from a program itself thanks so much for that Hana and in the comments and some of the suggestions that you shared it really brought us to think about how we collectively handle the stress and trauma we know some children and quite frankly some parents and staff members are experiencing the language of trauma-informed care is becoming more prevalent why do you think that that's particularly important here and how can I early learning programs use that approach to successfully support children families and staff so first of all it's really important in wellness early childhood educators that the stress and anxiety that immigrant pair are experiencing can very much be passed down and felt by their children most often children don't necessarily understand the complexity of immigration policy or even understand the differences in images and status but they certainly are hearing things in their community and are and understand that their parents are anxious in our research for children as young three years old expressing fears to teachers that a parent might not be home when they came home from preschool so given that context it's really important to look at the environments that we're creating for children and make sure that they are offering safe spaces for children who may be dealing with any number of traumatic experiences behavioral changes may become more prevalent particularly for children who are dealing with some of these issues directly and so preparing amongst your staff about how to talk with families and potentially children depending on on the age they're about what's happening is really important as well as making sure to share resources related to access to mental health services social workers advocates legal aid providers in the community all of this can really support families that are coping with these issues as well and then as you note it's really important to consider the impact of these policies on as well as on children and families and that's both about thinking about how this issue impacts staff personally and professionally we know we have a large share of the early childhood workforce who are themselves have immigrant backgrounds so to the extent that individuals are dealing with these issues on a personal basis in their families and communities we need to be thoughtful about that and as well we know that helping families on this very challenging issue can create a lot of stress and anxiety for for teachers and staff themselves so it's important that program leadership is thinking about what supports they might be able to provide to staff to really help them to be able to cope with this increased stress level I wanted to offer a couple of suggestions on that one is that it's really important that there are opportunities for staff to share amongst themselves what they're seeing and hearing and experiencing and that's because there may be some staff who are working more closely with parents that have more information about what's happening or some staff members who may be more connected to some community organizations and have more information to share sharing those stories amongst staff in programs and strategizing then around training and resources and how to meet the needs of all of the staff in an early childhood program is a really important strategy we also want to think again about that stress and anxiety that the workforce is coping with we all know that the conditions of work can be stressful so certainly thinking about our efforts to work for increased compensation and benefits become critical to having a workforce that can meet the needs of families we want to make sure that there's mental health consultants available to early childhood staff who are working on these very challenging issues and really we want to think about how we're creating a larger sense of community in programs where staff can support each other with opportunities for mindfulness practices for shared planning coming up with strategies of how to support families and really again building that sense of community among staff and so last but not least we really want to encourage you to develop partnerships with immigrants serving organizations and we save this recommendation for last because and we believe that it's critically important to accomplish all of the other steps and all of the other recommendations that we've discussed throughout this entire presentation and the policy climate right now is moving really quickly it's really volatile and you all have a lot on your plate as early childhood educators and we certainly don't expect you to become experts in immigration policy on top of everything else that you're working to accomplish every single day so developing partnerships with immigrants serving organizations in your community is a really important way to stay up-to-date on changes and to provide families and staff with accurate information and resources these partnerships can facilitate information sharing with parents and staff and help you connect families to affordable culturally competent and linguistically appropriate legal and mental health services in your community importantly these partnerships can also support the inclusion of members of immigrant communities and task forces boards and other coalition's that inform program policy and practice so that you're really integrating all of these things at every level of your organization you the clasp is working hard to publish and disseminate a variety of different resources on immigration issues and here are just a sample of some of the resources that our childcare and early education team has developed and we have many more available on our website at WWF org first is a link to one of our reports describing the findings from our fieldwork that Hannah talked about earlier including interviews with child care and early education providers regarding how they are being affected by and responding to the changing immigration context the report includes an appendix with a list of really important resources for early childhood providers the second is a link to our fact sheet on early childhood programs as sensitive locations the factory provides an overview of the policy and what it means for your programs we encourage you to hang them in your centers and distribute them to parents and the fact sheet is also available in Spanish and there's a link to that there on the slide another resource I'd like to lift up is this great article from teaching tolerance which provides an overview of relevant policies and concrete steps educators can take to support immigrant students and families it's geared toward k12 teachers but has relevant information for early childhood educators as well similarly you also want to take some time to also share with you some resources that na YC has provided the first of which is an article from our publications teaching young children which is titled welcoming refugee children into early childhood classrooms that provides ideas activities and resources to support early childhood educators in creating inclusive and nurturing classroom environments for refugee children and their families and particularly taking note of the trauma that many of these children and families may have endured in that same vein there is a webinar that na YC recently hosted titled creating trauma sensitive classrooms that really provides and further expands on the definition of trauma the prevalence of trauma as well as its impact on children similarly if then provides examples of what trauma looks like in the classroom how it is manifested in the behaviors of young children and strategies as well as additional resources to help you create trauma sensitive classrooms I want to note that these are real links and the slides will be available for download so folks will be able to access the resources moving forward will also continue i know as class and nao IC as well as our other partner organizations to continue develop resources to support all of our families I want to thank Hannah and Becca from class for their leadership in this area and for joining us today we all encourage you to reach out to any of us with questions we thank you for listening for hanging in there with us and for the incredible work that you do each and every day in your communities with children and families and as supports for one another we hope you have a great rest of the afternoon thank you again for being with us today

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2 Comments

Nancy Hafner · June 27, 2019 at 7:53 am

A very informative presentation, thank you!

Notable time · June 27, 2019 at 7:53 am

Thank you for this valuable discussion.

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