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October 2010Vol. 11, No. 8Meeting the Needs of Immigrant Children and Youth

Today, approximately a quarter of all U.S. children and youth are either the children of immigrants or are immigrants themselves. In response to the growing number of immigrant children and youth, the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) released Meeting the Needs of Immigrant Children and Youth in Child Welfare, an online Practice Update that discusses the challenges faced by members of the immigrant community and the child welfare system and caseworkers who serve them.

Immigrant families come to the attention of child welfare for many of the same reasons as other children and youth. However, immigrants also face language and cultural barriers, limited resources, and an illegal or temporary immigration status, all of which makes involvement in the child welfare system especially challenging. Additionally, issues related to immigration law, language, and culture make working with these families a time consuming and often complicated endeavor for caseworkers.

According to author Roxana Torrico, child welfare caseworkers can do the following to ensure that immigrant families and children receive the services and assistance they need:

  • Participate in cultural competency trainings
  • Participate in trainings focused on immigrant issues
  • Develop professional relationships with local U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency staff
  • Establish partnerships with community-based agencies that have experience working with the immigrant community
  • Access an array of social services, such as Temporary Assistance to Needy Families and Medicaid
  • Participate in task forces and collaborations dedicated to immigrant issues

This publication is available on the NASW website: (74.5 KB)