Investing in Latino children : Recently released data from the 2022 Census reveals two converging facts about America’s population: The population is aging while becoming more racially and ethnically diverse. Indeed, according to the Census report: “Hispanics (of any race) are the largest and second-fastest growing category of ethnic or Hispanic origin, population that includes Latinos and other non-Hispanic white groups. Based on sheer population size and growth, Hispanic children and youth will shape America’s economic and political landscape for years to come. Policy and legislative decisions—from federal legislative efforts like the Build Back Better Act, the 2021 expanded child tax credit, and the repeal of federal protections like Roe v. Wade—will inevitably have a ripple effect on opportunities for Latino children. and youth.
How important this growing population of young people in the US is to a strong American economy and society. Fortunately, we already know a lot about investing in strengthening Latino families and children.
Investing early and consistently in completing higher education improves Latin American labor market prospects and social integration
A significant body of social science research shows that such policy approaches as flexible hours that supplement, linguistically responsive curriculum and pedagogy, and expanded adoption of prenatal and early education programs in Hispanic communities.
Employing parents has long-term rewards. Approaches such as dual-language programming and bilingual streaming of early care providers, co-location of early education programs in Hispanic communities, and coordinated outreach between the child care subsidy system and Hispanic service agencies capitalize on and offset the strengths of Latino families. Fewer funds put many Latino children at a disadvantage.
Investments in the social and economic support of families will strengthen the already solid foundations of earnings, health and parenting of Latin American families with children.
Many caregivers are involved in raising Latino children. Public policy that goes beyond targeting the single parent and/or mother can build on this strong foundation of caregiver support for Latino children and youth and facilitate greater access to support. For example, important information about family services, after-school opportunities, health care, extended nutrition programs, and tax credits can be communicated to parents and family members as collective family benefits.
As Latino children and youth grow up in households with high levels of family employment, policies that increase earnings through tax credits or raise the minimum wage will not only increase total household income but also improve financial stability in ways that support children’s lives in the home .
Labor market-oriented policies that improve the quality of parents’ physical and mental health (e.g. sick leave, safe working conditions and job forecasts) also have a positive impact on the home environment and the quality of shared parenting.
Reducing administrative barriers and making publicly available services easier to navigate (eg, documentation requirements, language translation, and literacy requirements) can help families and youth access safety net programs. Anti-immigrant sentiment and local immigration actions have also had negative unintended consequences, referred to as “chilling effects” for Latino children and youth (who are almost all US citizens). Programs such as the Women, Infants, and Children Program, which show high participation rates in Latino households, offer useful lessons about ways to increase receipt of cash assistance.