Making Public Systems Work Better for Immigrant Families

Posted April 27, 2018, By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

Immigrant father talking with teenage son.

A quar­ter of the nation’s chil­dren live with an immi­grant par­ent. A new report from the Cen­ter on Immi­gra­tion and Child Wel­fare, pro­duced with fund­ing from the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion, offers com­pre­hen­sive research and data on what hap­pens when these chil­dren inter­act with child wel­fare and juve­nile jus­tice sys­tems in the Unit­ed States — and makes rec­om­men­da­tions for how those sys­tems can more effec­tive­ly respond.

Inter­sec­tion of Immi­gra­tion With Child Wel­fare and Juve­nile Jus­tice Sys­tems: A Review of Research, Pol­i­cy and Prac­tice syn­the­sizes lit­er­a­ture on the poli­cies, prac­tices, research and data con­cern­ing the expe­ri­ences of immi­grant fam­i­lies with the child wel­fare and juve­nile jus­tice sys­tems, key focus areas of the Foundation’s work. This review is impor­tant because Casey is com­mit­ted to strength­en­ing prac­tice and reduc­ing dis­par­i­ties in these sys­tems,” says Casey senior research asso­ciate Jeff Poiri­er, who com­mis­sioned the review.

Down­load the Review

The num­ber of chil­dren in immi­grant fam­i­lies has grown dra­mat­i­cal­ly over the last 20 years and recent immi­gra­tion enforce­ment actions are like­ly to increase the num­ber of young peo­ple enter­ing both sys­tems,” notes Lau­ra Speer, Casey asso­ciate direc­tor for pol­i­cy reform and advocacy.

The review also iden­ti­fies trends and makes rec­om­men­da­tions for poli­cies and prac­tices that research sug­gests could improve out­comes for immi­grant fam­i­lies while build­ing evi­dence of what works. Take­aways include the following:

  • The child wel­fare and juve­nile jus­tice sys­tems are not shift­ing quick­ly enough to accom­mo­date the needs of grow­ing immi­grant involve­ment, both in pro­vid­ing basic ser­vices such as trans­la­tion and in find­ing inno­v­a­tive approach­es to under­stand and work across cultures.
  • A sig­nif­i­cant effort is need­ed to remove bar­ri­ers to suc­cess­ful inter­ac­tions with these sys­tems for immi­grant fam­i­lies, and to edu­cate front­line prac­ti­tion­ers in work­ing with immi­grant populations.
  • Future progress depends on estab­lish­ing bet­ter mech­a­nisms for research­ing immi­grant pop­u­la­tions and pilot­ing and eval­u­at­ing evi­dence-based pro­grams designed to pro­vide them with high-qual­i­ty services.

For more infor­ma­tion, see the Foundation’s recent report updat­ing rec­om­men­da­tions for serv­ing immi­grant youth in the juve­nile jus­tice system.

Read about chil­dren in immi­grant fam­i­lies in Casey’s Race for Results report

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