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June 2015Vol. 16, No. 5Citizenship Status of Child Welfare-Involved Latino Families

An article in Children and Youth Services Review describes the first study to use national data to estimate the proportion of Latino children with noncitizen parents who are involved with child welfare. Using data from the second round of the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being, the study showed that 5 percent of all children involved with child welfare and 19 percent of Latino children involved with child welfare had parents who were unauthorized immigrants. Most of the Latino children were citizens, but 20 percent were unauthorized immigrants.

The study also found that foreign-born Latino parents, including those who are undocumented immigrants, were no more likely than Latino parents born in the United States to have substantiated cases of child maltreatment. This is especially interesting given the particular risk factors that immigrant parents face, such as higher rates of poverty and stress caused by migration, acculturation, and legal status. The article also describes protective factors that buffer these families against maltreatment, such as two-parent families and having lower rates of alcohol and drug abuse.

To view the abstract or order the article, visit

Cardoso, J. B., Dettlaff, A. J., Finno-Velasquez, M., Scott, J., & Faulkner, M. (2014). Nativity and immigration status among Latino families involved in the child welfare system: Characteristics, risk, and maltreatment. Children and Youth Services Review, 44, 189–200. doi:10.1016/j.childyouth.2014.06.008