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Homelessness of Hispanic and Latino Children


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There are a shocking number of Hispanic children living in foster care throughout the United States. These children may never find a permanent home to call their very own, a place where they can feel safe and loved. The problem affects the child's future and the community as a whole.

About 20,000 children age out of the foster care system without ever finding permanent homes every year. The latest figures suggest there were 513,000 children in United States foster care in 2007. Of this number, one in five is Hispanic or Latino (or of Latino descent).

Reasons cited for this number are:

  • Poverty and substance abuse, mostly in poor areas in large urban centers
  • Parents have limited support
  • Parents lack access to helpful resources such as parent training
  • Some of these parents are immigrants without relatives in the United States to turn to, which leads to not having the natural support they would have in their country
  • Many of these families also move around a lot

    Parents of these children are stressed out, are not good examples, and neglect or abuse their children. The Child Protective Services removes the child from the home, placing them into foster care.

    Hispanic and Latino children who grow up in the foster care system report:

  • It is difficult to move and be separated from siblings. They are often bounced around, have several different school placements with little consistency in their lives in general.
  • They have to learn to be part of a family and adapt to their beliefs and/or culture.
  • The process of having to learn the culture and beliefs of particular families in which they were placed is repeated over and over again.
  • Adjustment is hard for both the children and the families providing foster care and many of the children are kicked out of these homes.

    It is necessary for children to receive adequate support, structure, love, patience and guidance. If these things are not present as a child is maturing, they are at a higher risk for:

  • Emotional problems
  • Incomplete and/or unsuccessful education
  • Lack of social skills
  • Risk of becoming part of the criminal justice system

    Who helps these children?

    Voices for Children Foundation in Miami-Dade County and the 11th Judicial Circuit Guardian Ad Litem Program are a couple of agencies devoted to helping displaced Hispanic children. The adoption advocates stress the need for Hispanic families to adopt or foster Latino children.

    There is a shortage of Latino homes for placements. Adoption advocates realize connecting a Hispanic or Latino child to a life-long Hispanic family is extremely important.

    Adoption and foster parenting is not the only way people can help these children. Some volunteer their time and become a mentor or court appointed guardian.

    There is also help for adoptive parents that include:

  • Access to training
  • Financial support in the way of adoption subsidies and Medicaid
  • A parent who adopts a child with special needs can qualify for a tax credit
  • Adoptive parents can also receive help becoming a foster parent or adopting a child from public organizations such as their state departments of social services and the Administration for Children and Families.

    It is alarming to note that 99,000 Hispanic or Latino children placed in foster care will age out and can expect to face homelessness. They are a part of America's forgotten children.

    Source: Rousseau, M. (2008, April). American's FORGOTTEN CHILDREN, Hispanic, 21 (4), 44-46. Retrieved June 20, 2008, from Academic Search Premier database.

    Written by: Connie Limon Visit: for more information about the career and responsibilities of Human Service Paraprofessionals. For articles on a variety of topics, visit

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