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Latin American Children of Immigrants Are Underrepresented in Texas's Child Welfare System

Document date: May 07, 2007
Released online: May 07, 2007

Contact: Simona Combi, (202) 261-5709, scombi@ui.urban.org

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 7, 2007 -- Texan children with Latin American immigrant parents are underrepresented among those removed from their homes by the state's Child Protective Services (CPS) because of abuse and neglect, a new Urban Institute analysis reveals. U.S.-born children with Latin American parents were 8 percent of the CPS caseload in 2006, but 20 percent of the state's child population. Children born in Latin America were 1 percent of those in CPS care, but 7 percent of all Texan children.

Three briefs released today by the Urban Institute's Child Welfare Research Program offer first-ever snapshots of children involved with CPS who have immigrant parents. The research looks at foster care placements, plans for permanent placements, funding, and substantiated cases of sexual abuse. Although immigrant populations and CPS systems vary by state, the researchers said the findings may be broadly applicable to other states with significant immigrant populations.

Among the other findings were the following:

  • Of the children removed from their homes by CPS, 8 percent of those born in Latin America were placed with relatives, compared with 20 to 28 percent of U.S.-born children (Hispanic and non-Hispanic). Smaller family networks and relatives' undocumented status might explain the lower placement rate.
  • While 32 percent of the Latin American-born children were removed from their homes because of substantiated sexual abuse, only 10 to11 percent of U.S.-born children of natives (Hispanic and non-Hispanic) were removed for this reason. One possible explanation for the disparity, researchers said, is that immigrant communities may fear—because of many parents' undocumented status—the consequences of reporting all but the most serious cases of abuse. Nearly 50 percent of children of immigrants in Texas live with an undocumented parent. Runaways, unaccompanied minors, and victims of commercial sexual exploitation in the state's largest cities could also explain the disparity.
  • Only 5 percent of Latin American immigrant children were eligible for Title IV-E funding, the largest source of federal support for state child welfare services, compared with over half of native-born children. As a result, Texas assumes the full cost for almost all foreign-born children in the state's care, due to federal restrictions on noncitizen children's eligibility for IV-E funding imposed by the 1996 welfare overhaul.

The study identified 200 Latin American-born children in CPS care, 1,697 U.S.-born children with parents from Latin America, 6,589 Hispanic children of natives, and 11,920 non-Hispanic children of natives.

"Foster Care Placement Settings and Permanency Planning: Patterns by Child Generation and Ethnicity," by Tracy Vericker, Daniel Kuehn, and Randy Capps is available at

"Child Sexual Abuse: Removals by Child Generation and Ethnicity," by Daniel Kuehn, Tracy Vericker, and Randy Capps is available at

"Title IV-E Funding: Funded Foster Care Placements by Child Generation and Ethnicity," by Tracy Vericker, Daniel Kuehn, and Randy Capps is available at

Topics/Tags: | Children and Youth | Immigrants

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