Supporting Latino Families Vulnerable to Child Welfare Involvement
Rodriguez-Jenkins, Jessica A.
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Background: Latino families with young children are the fastest growing group in the public child welfare system, yet a limited amount of research focuses on understanding their parenting context. This makes research understanding the context of parenting and possible predictors of nurturing parenting a central concern for child welfare researchers. A clear picture of who these families are, and how they are faring, is critical to illuminate potentially modifiable areas for interventions and prevention of future child welfare involvement. Objectives: (1) Estimate hypothesized group differences of sociodemographic characteristics and maltreatment risk and protective factors, stratified by race (Black, White, and Latina) and Latina country of origin (Mexican, Puerto Rican, and other origin) among Latinas who have been the subject of a child welfare investigation. (2) Explore possible predictors of nurturing parenting among Latina mothers drawn from variables of within group difference and micro, mezzo, and macro contexts. Methods: Data are taken from the National Survey on Child and Adolescent Well-being II – Restricted Release (NSCAW-II), a national probability sample of families who were investigated for possible maltreatment between February 2008 and April 2009 in 83 counties nationwide. The study analysis was restricted to mothers of children between 0 and 5 years old who remained in their biological mother’s care (n = 1,836). Results: Bivariate results examining sociodemographic and maltreatment risk factors demonstrate heterogeneity when Latina mothers were examined by country of origin. Puerto Rican mothers have significantly higher risk factor rates when compared to Mexican and other origin mothers – which was often obscured when Latinas were examined homogenously due to the larger percentage of Mexican mothers in the sample. Conclusion: Results from this study bring to light within group heterogeneity among these Latina mothers which was obscured by examining Latinas in aggregate. This study furthers our understanding of racial and ethnic differences among Latinas with vulnerability to child-welfare involvement in a contextually and culturally responsive manner.