Strategies for Engaging Immigrant and Refugee Families
American classrooms have become increasingly diverse. Immigrants and refugees now comprise over 20 percent of the students in U.S. public schools, and this percentage is expected to grow to 30 percent by 2015. The number of English language learners has also increased, doubling in size from 1995 to 2005. These diverse students hail from every corner of the world, with 39 percent of immigrants coming from Mexico, 23 percent from Asia and the Pacific Islands, 11 percent from Europe, 6 percent from Central America and the Caribbean, 5 percent from South America, and 3 percent from Africa. Immigrants no longer reside mainly in urban areas but have dispersed to rural communities, where historically, there has been little diversity and certainly far less experience working with immigrant and refugee populations. Many Safe Schools/Healthy Students (SS/HS) sites across the United States have substantial immigrant populations and are interested in better understanding their diverse communities so that they may do more effective outreach to engage families in SS/HS programs.