U.S.-Born Latinos More Likely To Be in Foster Care

That negotiation, Dettlaff said, can lead to various stresses within families. Traditional ideas about gender roles might be upended, particularly if a woman ends up working, and conflict between parents and the children they feel are assimilating too quickly can lead to divisions.

But there are buffers from the negative consequences of such stresses with the first generation. Even though they are generally more poor and less educated, they are protected from negative acculturation, in some ways, by traditional values. There is more aversion to divorce, for example, and drinking or using drugs. Those values can erode over generations, leaving no buffer. At the same time, this negotiation between cultures continues, which can cause the stress that leads to things like gang violence and drug addiction.

Hayes-Bautista said he suspects media may play a role in creating conflict between U.S.-born Latinos and their foreign-born parents. With the onset of adolescence, he said, kids across all ethnicities begin to think their parents don't know anything. But unlike other adolescents, Latino kids start using social media in English and are hit with the media message that their parents are everything from stupid to illegal.

Maria Quintanilla, executive director of the Latino Family Institute, a nonprofit foster care, adoption and family support agency, said that once they're in the child services system, Latino kids also face specific challenges that deserve more consideration.

Some have grown up speaking Spanish and are placed in English-only households, for example. But there aren't always enough families who speak Spanish or share the same background. This is not to say that a white family is not a good fit, but a child of Mexican heritage may be more comfortable with someone who shares that experience.

Elizabeth Jenkins-Sahlin, a spokeswoman for the Latin American Youth Center, which runs several programs aimed at helping Latino youth in the child welfare system, said language barriers can play a detrimental role as well and believes there's a need for more bilingual workers involved in child welfare and more workers sensitive to the needs of Latino kids.

"More losses create more adverse childhood experiences," Quintanilla said, "and we do not want to create further adversities for children."

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