Latino Family
Engagement:
How to Effectively Engage
and Connect with Latino
Parents and Youth
Andrew Behnke and
Sue Rosman
The Rundown
 Demographics
 Case
Studies
 Parent
Empowerment
 Resource
 Next
and Culture
List
Steps
U.S. Population
Today in Millions
255
14 2 17
17
Non-Foreign Born Citizens
Naturalized Citizens
Legal Residents/Refugees/Asylees
Temporary/Other Immigrant Status
Undocumented
(Migration Policy Institute, 2006; Pew Hispanic, 2007)
U.S. Latino Population
Today in Millions
29
11
7
1
9
Non-Foreign Born Citizens
Naturalized Citizens
Legal Residents/Refugees/Asylees
Temporary/Other Immigrant Status
Undocumented
(Migration Policy Institute, 2006; Pew Hispanic, 2007)
Size of the Latino
Population
(Census 2000, Public Use Microdata, 2006)
Growth in Latino
Population
Gain of 200% +
100.0 to 199.9
57.9 to 99.9
0.0 to 57.8
-0.1to -10
Loss of 10% +
NC Latino Population
1990 =
2000 =
2007 =
56,667
378,963
643,333
=
=
=
1.1%
4.7%
7.1%
Births to Latinos increased by 1208%
from 1990 to 2006. The number went
from 1,754 in 1990 to 21,202 in 2006
or 17% of births.
(NC Vital Statistics, 2008; Census; 2007)
Foreign-Born Population
in Other Countries (2003)






Germany
Canada
Switzerland
Australia
Costa Rica
Kuwait
–
–
–
–
–
–
Source: OECD Factbook: Axiss Australia.
2006- Faith Action International House
8.9%
18.2%
20.0%
22.8%
24.9%
44.1%
Foreign-Born Population
in Other Countries (2003)

 USA





–
Germany
8.9%
– 12.4%
Canada
Switzerland
Australia
Costa Rica
Kuwait
–
–
–
–
–
Source: OECD Factbook: Axiss Australia.
2006- Faith Action International House
18.2%
20.0%
22.8%
24.9%
44.1%
Latino Family Diversity



Commonalities and Diversity
Immigrants from over 20
countries
One size does not fit all
Language
 Acculturation
 Generation Status
 SES
 Life history

Latino Cultural Values often
Clash with the “American Way”

Latino families must cope with the
values and expectations of two very
distinct cultures as they navigate
their way through the multifaceted
educational system.

They must deal with an unfamiliar
system powerful enough to alter
their relationships with their children,
their extended families, and the
communities where they live.
Latino Values
Machismo – Marianismo misunderstood
 Respeto
 Familismo
 Simpatia
 Confianza

More Values

Personalismo- warm genuine
 close
proximity, hand shaking
 discussing personal issues
 gifts – offering food & drinks
 formal at first -> personal
Latino Cultural Beliefs


The concept of family engagement is
an American concept.
Teachers in Mexico are seen as high
ranking members of society, on par
with doctors, lawyers and priests.



Typically, children are taught to respect
teachers and not to question them.
Some Latino wouldn’t think of going into a
classroom and telling the teacher what to
do or question their motives and teaching
styles!
In Spanish, the word educación can
have different meanings than it does
in English.
Latino Cultural Beliefs

Above all, they expect children to
acquire “Buena educación” or good
manners (Delgado-Gaitan & Trueba, 1991)

Families see their essential role as
ensuring that children have food,
clothing, shelter and that they are
socialized into the norms and
expectations of the family.

Get to know a parent’s culture and
their expected role within the culture.
Education Basics in Mexico

Education is free up to 9th grade.

Those that can afford it continue onto
higher grades.

Books are free.

Basic classes: Math, Social Studies,
Science/Biology, Spanish, History,
Geography, Chemistry, and English.


Special Education does not exist.
After 9th grade those that can’t afford
to continue look for work or immigrate
to the U.S. There is a scholarship
system but is very limited.
Education Basics in Mexico

Schedule differences / uniforms

No school services such as free lunch
or school nurse

School reform was implemented a few
years ago to included grades 7th-9th
as mandatory and free

Teachers considered experts

Parent-teacher relationships not
generally encouraged
Case Studies
Potential Hispanic
HS Students in NC
60000
50000
40000
30000
20000
10000
0
2000
2004
2008
2012
2016
2020
(Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, WICHE, 2003)
Recent Trends in NC
Latino population

53% pre-K involvement

the lowest in the state

More than half of North Carolina's
Latino girls are expected to be
pregnant before their 20th birthday.

Latino boys are struggling more than
any other group – African American
boys next.
(Hess, 2000; Zuniga, 2004)
Recent Trends in NC
Latino population

44% - 52% of all H.S. Latinos
did not graduate in 4 years
2006 in NC.

Only about 3% of NC university
students are Latino
(Laird, DeBell, & Chapman, 2006).
Why Do Latino Students
Leave School?

Working by Age 14-15 /
Family Obligations

Generational Poverty

Marry Young / Childbirth

Gangs / Delinquency

Limited Higher Education
Opportunities
(Perriera, 2007)
Dropouts in the US
Race & Ethnic Characteristics
Race/Ethnicity
Dropout Rate
White, non-Hispanic
7.3%
Black, non-Hispanic
10.9%
Hispanic
27.0%
Hispanic, immigrant
44.2%
Asian/Pacific Islander
3.8%
(National Center for Education Statistics, 2002. Dropout Rates in the United States: 2000)
Native American
57.0%
(Manhattan Institute for Policy Research. Civic Report 31 Public School Graduation Rates 2000)
(Laird, DeBell, & Chapman, 2006).
How Dropouts Hurt
North Carolina
Lost State Income Tax Revenue $995
Incarceration Costs
$1,946
Medicaid Costs
$1,496
Annual Public Cost per Dropout $4,437
Dropouts =
Annual cost of $7.5 Billion in lost
earnings
 Aggregate of $11 Billion annual
impact on North Carolina’s
economy

(Gottlob, 2007)
Latino Parents & Academics
 Parental
involvement has
consistently been shown to be
related to these outcomes (e.g.,
Delgado-Gaitan, 1992, 1994; Flouri & Buchanan, 2004; Gutman,
Sameroff, & Eccles, 2002; Plunkett & Bámaca-Gómez, 2003)
 In
fact, parent involvement was
found the single strongest
predictor of Latino academic
performance (Zuniga, 2004)
Latino Parents & Academics

Youth achievement is greater when
parents:







are involved in school activities
are generally knowledgeable about the
school system
monitor and help their children with their
homework
provide verbal encouragement
are informed of the youth’s progress
read in front of their children
set higher expectation levels for their
children’s academic performance
(Delgado-Gaitan, 1992, 1994; Epstein, 1992; Gutman, Sameroff, & Eccles,
2002; Herman, Dornbusch, Herron, & Herting, 1997; Okagaki & Frensch,
1995; Plunkett & Bámaca-Gómez, 2003; Shumow & Miller, 2001)
Language/Literacy
Barriers to
Latino Parent
Involvement
Unfamiliar
and intimidating
systems
Overcome Barriers
Personnel
Together
Attitudes of
Life factors
Past Educational
Experiences
Child care
Work
schedules
Transportation
Lack of Information
Language Barriers
During the first week of school, Linda has been given
an application for free and reduced lunches, which
she had completed and turned in, leaving blank the
questions she couldn’t answer. Linda has been given
a number and told she was provisionally approved. A
few days later, Linda decided to try one of the lines,
one offering pizza or sub sandwiches. When she got
to the cash register, the cashier explained that this
line accepted only cash and that the number was only
good at the regular line. With almost no English,
Linda only understood that she needed cash to pay
for her food. She did not have enough, she had to
return most or all of her food. Her face still turned just
telling the story!
*Youth stories presented are part of Rev. María Teresa Unger Palmer 2003
Dissertation at UNC Chapel Hill.
Language Barriers

41% Speak English Very Well
Indigenous languages
 Variations in Spanish dialects
 Code switching



Implications for school settings
Assure a trusted translator can
help you (avoid child translation)
(U.S. Census Bureau, 2006)
Literacy as a Barrier

Literate in Spanish, English, or
neither?
False assumption that if they
speak Spanish they can read
Spanish
 Implications for intervention

Immigration Status
as a Barrier

Undocumented persons

Trust issues

Necessary to assure confidentiality
Hesitancy to use services
 Classroom visits


Resident vs. Citizen vs. Worker

Social Security Questions


No Child Left Behind Title 1
Title VI of 1965 Civil Rights
Mental Health Barriers

Immigrant experiences




Fear among undocumented
persons
Heightened need for
psychological services
Children traumatized
Posttraumatic stress high among
immigrants
Employment Barriers


Odd shifts - 2/3 work off regular
hours
Arduous and Monotonous Labor
Lowest wages but highest hours
worked
 Lowest unemployment rates in
many states but most frequently
laid off and for longest spells

Successful Practices for
Engaging Parents

Create a warm, caring, and
inviting school environment.

Communication is the major
focus.


make personal calls and visit the
home with the support of parent
liaisons or translators.
Acknowledge parents’ cultural
values and view them as
strengths
Successful Practices
for Engaging Parents

Recognize the families’ strengths.
Resilience
 Resourcefulness
 Nurturance and support of
extended family
 High educational expectations
for their children (Behnke et al., 2005; Delgado-Gaitan,

1992; Henderson & Mapp, 2002)

Invite members of the extended
family to participate in the school
activities.
Youth Achievement is
Greater when Schools:







involve parents in after school activities.
provide bilingual secretaries and counselors.
recruit immigrant parents as advocates,
mentors, and volunteers.
involve immigrant parents in steering
committees.
provide materials in their languages.
ensure meetings and opportunities for
involvement occur at times when parents can
attend.
reach out to parents personally (1 ON 1) and
make the school a safe place for parents.
(Barbour & Barbour, 2001; Delgado-Gaitan, 1992, 1994; Epstein, 1995; Epstein & Salinas,
2004; Machado-Casas, 2005; Scribner, Young, & Pedroza, 1999; Valdes, 1996)
Suggestions for Parents
 Read to their child.
 Discuss the day’s events.
 Help with homework and
special projects.
 Limit television viewing time.
 Watch TV with their children
and talk about program
messages.
How Schools Can
Involve Fathers
 Make a special effort to include
fathers in:
 Parent/teacher conferences.
 After-school and extracurricular
activities.
 Mentoring and tutoring activities.
 Encourage fathers to be involved
 Let fathers follow their interests:
Internet, magazines, sports
Effective and Engaging
Parent/Teacher Conferences

Hold meetings in locations
individuals are familiar with.

Consider the work schedule of the
families- Flexibility
Evenings and weekends are best.
 Remember footbol (soccer),
telenovelas, local events, religious
festivals, etc.

Effective and Engaging
Parent/Teacher Conferences

Hang signs in Spanish leading to
the meeting room, restrooms, and
other needed facilities.

Focus on positive first

a portfolio of child’s successes

Discuss growth areas and plan

End on a positive
Effective and Engaging
Events with Parents

Extend the invitation to all family
members.


Make things less Formal


Provide childcare nearby.
Fun activities: role plays, hands-on
activities, drama, video, use of
personal history, culturally relevant
materials.
Written material a supporting
player
Involving Parents
 Appeal to parents and to children
 “Mom this is something you are
doing for your child” and “Juanita
lets get your dad coming out”
 Already involved parents
recruiting others
 Incentives to recruit
 Commercial sponsorship?
Just Remember
Are you addressing:
language
 culture
 beliefs

Is it based on:
funds of knowledge
 interests
 strengths

Hispanic/Latino
Organizations

Adelante Education Coalition:
www.adelantenc.org

NABE: www.nabe.org
National Association of Bilingual Education

LULAC: www.lulac.org
League of United Latin American Citizens

MALDEF: Mexican American Legal Defense
& Education Fund, www.maldef.org

Nation Council of La Raza:
www.nclr.org

Pew Hispanic
Center:www.kff.org/kaiserpolls/pomr012604nr.cfm

A Dream Deffered:
http://adreamdeferred.org/
Next Steps

What is one thing you can do
that will help you work with
Latino parents?

What additional training or
support do you need?
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