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Just the Facts: The growth of Latino children in foster care system

LatinaLista — The likelihood that a child who goes through the foster care system ends up in jail is high. According to the National Association of Social Workers, 80% of all inmates are former foster children.


Couple that sad news with the disturbing revelation that the number of Latino children in foster care more than doubled from 6.7% of the foster care population in 1982 to 19% in 2006.


A timeline of how the foster care system evolved into what exists today.

What’s equally appalling is that the figure 19% is about the same figure for the number of Latino children in the general US population of children, which stands at 21%. On the other hand, white children comprise 57% of the total US population of children but only 41% in the foster care system.

According to a factsheet produced by the Casey Latino Leadership Group, there are other disturbing facts regarding Latino children and the foster care system:

Some studies have shown that Latino children are usually younger (between the ages of 0-5) than non-Latino children at the time of referral and substantiation, placing them at higher risk for placement. This is concerning given that infants and young children are less likely to be reunified with their families.

Reports of abuse and neglect are relatively proportionate between Latino and White non-Latino children. Yet, substantiated cases are more likely to occur with Latino children.

Latino children are more likely to be placed in out-of home care more quickly and for longer periods of time than their White non-Latino counterparts.

62% of the Latino children served by child welfare services today are placed in out-of home care, compared to 25% in 1977.

More than one third (37.4%) of Latino children in family foster care live in relative placements, representing the highest rate among all racial/ethnic groups.

The issue of overrepresentation is further exacerbated when immigration status is taken into account. Immigrant children and children from immigrant households are less likely to be living in relative foster care and more likely to be living in group homes and institutions than their non-immigrant counterparts. They are also more likely to have a goal of independent living or long-term foster care.

Growth in the rate of Latino children in foster care has far outpaced the number of Latino foster parents available to care for these children. More Latino families are needed to meet the cultural and linguistic needs of Latino youth in foster care.

These are just the facts

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  • cookie
    February 19, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    Maybe I missed something but what are the reasons that there are so many Latino children in foster care?
    I thought Latinos were supposed to be so family oriented. Are these children being abandoned by their parents? What is going on?

  • Karen
    February 20, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    I definitely think that Latinos and other minority children are more likley to be removed from their homes and placed into foster care. Many social workers come from a different background and see non-white people as ‘pathological.’
    The reality, though, is that more Latinos need to plan their children. They should spend their 20s working and saving, and not have children until they have been married for a few years, after age 30.
    That would reduce the number of kids in foster care, juvenile hall, and eventually the number of Latino adults in prison.
    People are often victims of ‘the system’ because they don’t take charge of their own lives.

  • Dylan Meitner
    April 26, 2010 at 6:53 pm

    Thanks for this information. Just the Facts: The growth of Latino children in foster care system (Latina Lista) was a wonderful read. My sister has been wondering about this topic for a while.

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