A steady increase of immigration from Hispanic communities has greatly increased the Latino youth population in the Chicago area, the Chicago Tribune reports.
One out of every three children in Cook County under the age of 5 is of Hispanic decent, according to the news source, citing recent US Census data. In communities such as Cicero and Melrose Park, more than 80 percent of children under 5 are Latino, while in Chicago, that figure is more than 40 percent.
As a result, school districts in metropolitan Chicago have scrambled to create dual-language programs and workshops over the last 10 years to keep up with the demand. The goal is not necessarily to teach English to young students, but to create a strong foundation for language of any kind to help ready young, preschool-age children for school after immigration.
According to the Tribune, some neighborhoods with high Latino populations have longer waitlists for children looking to enroll in preschool.
The Huffington Post reports much of the Hispanic immigrant population has migrated directly to Chicago-area suburbs, rather than starting off in a major city. In Aurora, Illinois, more than 35,000 of the 55,000 new residents over the last decade were Hispanic. In that time frame, the city became the state’s second-largest city.