• July 2007
  • Vol. 8, No. 6

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Immigrant Families in the Child Welfare System

Immigrant families in Texas involved with the child welfare system are the subject of three recent issue briefs published by the Urban Institute. The briefs examine the role of placement settings and case goals, reasons for removal, and title IV-E eligibility to determine why child welfare services for immigrant children differ from or lag behind those provided to other populations.

Although Latin American immigrant children made up 7 percent of all children in the State in 2005, they constituted only 1 percent of children in care. Similarly, second-generation Latin American children made up nearly 20 percent of all Texan children in 2005 but only 8 percent of children in care. These percentages stand in contrast to the overrepresentation of third-generation Hispanic children (those with U.S.-born parents), who made up 22 percent of the children in Texas but 33 percent of those in care.

Beyond the statistics, the issue briefs shed some light on the reasons for placement decisions and removals, as well as the role of title IV-E eligibility in providing services to these groups of children:

  • According to one of the briefs, the absence of a "relative network" and the immigration status of one or both parents might help account for the difference in placement options and case goals among immigrant children and children of immigrants. In March 2006, only 8 percent of immigrant children in child welfare were living with relatives, while 20 percent of children of immigrants and 28 percent of all U.S.-born children were living with kin.

  • A high percentage of immigrant children enter care for sexual abuse. This might be explained by the profiles of these children, including their runaway or "alien" status, the lack of family supports, and the vulnerability of unaccompanied minors in the face of commercial sexual exploitation.

  • A third issue brief shows that immigrant children are also less likely to be eligible for title IV-E assistance than other children—most often because of the undocumented status of the immigrant children. Compared to more than 50 percent of U.S.-born children, only 5 percent of Latin American immigrant children were title IV-E eligible in 2005. In cases where children are ineligible for title IV-E funding, the State bears the total cost for care.

To read the first three briefs in the Identifying Immigrant Families Involved With Child Welfare Systems series, visit the Urban Institute website:


Related Item

For related information on this topic, see the following article in this issue's Resources section:

"The Effects of Immigration on Child Welfare"

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