Team to study impact of migration on the children left behind

September 16, 2015

America is largely a country of immigrants. From the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock, to the countless Europeans who passed through Ellis Island at the turn of the century, to modern-day migrant workers in search of labor, stories of people leaving their homeland in pursuit of a better life in the United States abound.

But what happens to those left behind? The family members who for whatever reason remain in their native land? A Nepali family takes an afternoon walk. A Nepali family participating in the Family Migration Context and Early Life Outcomes research project takes an afternoon walk. The project will support research in three settings where international and internal migration are prevalent: Jalisco, Mexico; Gaza Province, Mozambique; and Chitwan Valley, Nepal. Photo courtesy of Jennifer Glick. Download Full Image

That’s what Jennifer Glick, professor in Arizona State University’s T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics wants to know, particularly in the case of the younger family members left behind.

“Migration is very much a global phenomenon,” she said. “We see it in the news all the time, and we have a lot of research that talks about the motivation of migration but not in terms of understanding how it affects the lives of children.”

Along with an interdisciplinary team of faculty from ASU and beyond — including assistant professor Natalie Wilkens and professor Scott Yabiku, both of the Sanford School, and Carlos Santos, assistant professor of counseling and counseling psychology in ASU’s College of Letters and Sciences — Glick will spend the next five years researching the role of migration in the lives of children and adolescents in communities of origin, thanks to a nearly $5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health.

The project, Family Migration Context and Early Life Outcomes (or, as Glick and colleagues refer to it, FAMELO), will support research in three settings where international and internal migration are prevalent: Jalisco, Mexico; Gaza Province, Mozambique; and Chitwan Valley, Nepal.

Within the overall research project are three separate, more distinct projects that will focus on: 1) children’s social competence and socio-emotional outcomes; 2) children’s school engagement and educational trajectories for youth with different exposures to migration in their households; and 3) adolescent transitions into romantic relationships and marriage.

“FAMELO’s three research projects have different research aims, but they are connected in that we all are interested in examining how migration influences the children and adolescents who are left behind,” said Wilkens, who will be focusing on children’s social competence and socio-emotional outcomes.

By focusing on different developmental outcomes and transitions, the projects combine to create a better overall view of how migration shapes family environments and life opportunities from childhood through the transition to adulthood.

“Understanding how children’s lives are impacted by the migration of their parents or siblings can help inform local schools where migration is prevalent. Our findings may also help local communities build services for families with migrants,” Glick said.

The first step will be to work with focus groups to determine the best ways to measure how children are affected by family members’ migration. The researchers will then interview and administer questionnaires to a large, representative sample of children and their parents/caregivers at two separate points in time in each research site.

“This design will allow us to examine how migration affects change in children’s outcomes over time, as well as compare processes across our research sites,” Wilkens said. “The data FAMELO will yield will be statistically complex … but, more importantly, will be impactful.”

Emma Greguska

Reporter, ASU News

(480) 965-9657

White House recognizes ASU's American Dream Academy as 'Bright Spot'

September 16, 2015

Marking the start of Hispanic Heritage Month, the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence in Hispanics recognized Arizona State University’s American Dream Academy on Tuesday for its contribution in ensuring educational attainment for Hispanic youth in the community.

The American Dream Academy will be featured as part of the “Bright Spots in Hispanic Education,” a national online catalog of more than 230 programs that invest in key education priorities for Latinos. Families attend the American Dream Academy parent-empowerment program. Jamie and Patricia Fabian and their 15-year-old daughter, Yenifer, attend the American Dream Academy at Trevor Browne High School in Phoenix on May 6. The free, 10-week, Latino parent-empowerment program teaches parents about the requirements for college. The Fabians were the 30,000th parents to complete the program. Photo by: Charlie Leight/ASU News Download Full Image

“ASU is honored to be named as a Bright Spot along with other national programs whose collaborative mission is to enable the Hispanic youth in our communities to succeed,” said Sylvia Symonds, ASU assistant vice president of Educational Outreach.

The American Dream Academy (ADA) is a parent-empowerment program created to help address the disproportionately low educational attainment of Hispanic students in Maricopa County. Through interactive, facilitated classes offered in a variety of languages, the ADA helps parents gain an understanding of how they can support their child academically and reach all the required steps to complete high school. Through this education, parent and child are prepared for the requirements needed to achieve a higher education.

“ADA is symbolic of the spirit that lives at Arizona State University, accessibility to higher education for all qualified students,” said Alex Perilla, director of American Dream Academy.

The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics was established in 1990 to address the educational disparities faced by the Hispanic community. Alejandra Ceja, executive director of the initiative, said the Bright Spots will be used to encourage collaboration between stakeholders focused on similar issues in sharing data-driven approaches, promising practices and peer advice.

“There has been notable progress in Hispanic educational achievement, and it is due to the efforts of these Bright Spots in Hispanic Education, programs and organizations working throughout the country to help Hispanic students reach their full potential,” Ceja said.

ASU has seen a 94 percent increase in Hispanic/Latino undergraduate enrollment since 2006. Through programs like the American Dream Academy, ASU ensures students are on a pathway to success, continuing to closely match Arizona’s socioeconomic diversity.

“ADA’s work brings to life ASU’s charter to be defined by whom we include and how they succeed,” Symonds said. “As part of Access ASU’s many programs and initiatives designed to grow the pipeline of K-12 students, ADA is contributing toward increasing the number of Arizona students prepared to enroll and succeed at ASU.”

Since its inception in 2006, the academy has graduated more than 30,000 parents and approximately 7,000 high school students and more than 80,000 children have benefited from their parents’ participation. In the past, research evaluations of the American Dream Academy curriculum show that parents who complete academy classes made impressive gains in their skills and knowledge about how to support their child’s education.

ADA was made possible by financial support from the Helios Foundation and SRP.

To learn more about the initiative and to view the Bright Spots in Hispanic Education national catalog, visit