Children Sent to China May Return for Pre-K

Mayor de Blasio with several young Chinese children. (Photo via World Journal)

Mayor de Blasio with several young Chinese children. (Photo via World Journal)

Among young Chinese immigrant families in the United States, a unique phenomenon is growing. With recently emigrated parents too occupied with work or lacking legal status, their children are often sent back to be raised with families in China. In towns like Changle of Fuzhou, entire academies of such young children exist, where they receive schooling before they reach age five – legal age to receive free public education in the United States – and are reunited with their parents in the States. Education reform in New York City which aims to make pre-school free may hasten their return by an entire year.

However, a huge adjustment awaits these children when they come back to the United States. Living habits, English ability, family and social relationships are all suddenly turned upside down, though it is believed having this happen one year sooner is easier on them. In New York City, American citizens who were reared in China has become somewhat commonplace; though this is far from ideal for a traditional family structure, pragmatic considerations are often irresistible. The World Journal took a closer look.

“There really are many Chinese parents who would bring their children back a year early if there’s free pre-school. Of the people who have come to inquire this year, more than one hundred have said just that,” a Chinese-American Planning Council (CPC) official, Mr. Deng, said on March 20. The organization is one of the largest and most established Asian community affairs groups in the country, and among its services are resources for child care. As reform gathers on the horizon in favor of Universal Pre-K (UPK), many Chinese parents have gone to the CPC for more information.

UPK would alleviate a serious financial burden for most immigrant parents, a major pragmatic concern behind sending their newborns to China in the first place. Since the children would be in school and monitored between 9:00 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., it would also free up substantial work time for the parents. Registration for UPK would run from March until April, with school beginning in September.

There are not expected to be major roadblocks to registration for immigrant parents, though proof of address is often required for admission to public schools.

Mr. Deng offers four local guidelines for parents interested in the program: choose a district near where you work, or near where family members can pick up the kids, send children to youth centers in Chinese districts where they can learn English and acclimate to the United States with other Chinese-speakers and teachers, and pick a program which develops specific or overall skills that you want your children to learn. For more information, the city’s Child Care Resource and Referral Consortium can help, though the CPC is the only one that provides service geared specifically towards Chinese. To inquire, give them a call at (212) 792-4597.

This story, which appeared in the English language version of World Journal, was written by reporter Luna Liu, and translated and re-written by Jack Chen.

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