National Hispanic Heritage Month

Taking a Closer Look at Latino Children’s Well-Being

Posted September 27, 2022
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Three Hispanic siblings sit in front of a grassy knoll. They beam at the camera, wearing backpacks.

Nation­al His­pan­ic Her­itage Month is an oppor­tu­ni­ty to hon­or the rich cul­tur­al diver­si­ty and his­to­ries of His­pan­ic and Lati­no pop­u­la­tions in Amer­i­ca. Each year, from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, the month cel­e­brates the valu­able con­tri­bu­tions these fam­i­lies and indi­vid­u­als make to our coun­try. Giv­en the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s focus on strength­en­ing fam­i­lies and track­ing the sta­tus of chil­dren through the KIDS COUNT® Data Cen­ter, this month is an excel­lent oppor­tu­ni­ty to take stock of His­pan­ic and Lati­no children’s health and well-being.

Who Are His­pan­ic and Lati­no Children?

His­pan­ic or Lati­no chil­dren — rep­re­sent­ing over 1 in 4 kids nation­wide — are not a homo­ge­neous group. They may be of Cen­tral or South Amer­i­can, Cuban, Mex­i­can, Puer­to Rican and/​or oth­er Span­ish ori­gins. The U.S. Cen­sus Bureau cat­e­go­rizes over 30 dif­fer­ent His­pan­ic or Lati­no groups, and more than 90% of chil­dren who are His­pan­ic or Lati­no are U.S.-born cit­i­zens.

These kids are a grow­ing, cul­tur­al­ly diverse pop­u­la­tion, many of whom are thriv­ing, with nur­tur­ing fam­i­lies and strengths such as bilin­gual­ism. Since 2000, the pop­u­la­tion of chil­dren who are His­pan­ic or Lati­no has grown by about 50% nation­wide, from approx­i­mate­ly 12.5 mil­lion to 18.8 mil­lion in 2022. The largest con­cen­tra­tions of chil­dren who are His­pan­ic or Lati­no are in the south­west­ern states of Texas (49% in 2022), Cal­i­for­nia (52%) and New Mex­i­co (62%), though the per­cent­age of kids who are His­pan­ic or Lati­no has increased in all 50 states and Wash­ing­ton, D.C. since 2000. These young peo­ple will play a major role in the future U.S. work­force, elec­tions, lead­er­ship and oth­er aspects of soci­ety. Ensur­ing the well-being of these chil­dren is vital to the suc­cess of our nation in the com­ing decades. 

His­pan­ic and Lati­no Children’s Health and Well-Being

The recent­ly released 2023 KIDS COUNT Data Book high­lights areas in which chil­dren and youth who are His­pan­ic or Lati­no are far­ing bet­ter than nation­al aver­ages on health and safe­ty mea­sures. It also notes areas in which these chil­dren con­tin­ue to expe­ri­ence dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly worse out­comes. Among the pos­i­tive find­ings, infants who are His­pan­ic or Lati­no are more like­ly to be born at a healthy weight. This is crit­i­cal because low birth weight is linked to long-term health prob­lems and infant mor­tal­i­ty. Kids and ado­les­cents who are His­pan­ic or Lati­no also have low­er death rates than the nation­al average. 

Child and Teen Death Rate by Rate and Ethnicity for 2021

Despite these impor­tant suc­cess­es, dozens of oth­er indi­ca­tors illus­trate that our coun­try is not pro­vid­ing His­pan­ic or Lati­no chil­dren and fam­i­lies with equi­table oppor­tu­ni­ties and resources to achieve their full potential. 

Accord­ing to the lat­est data, some con­cern­ing sta­tis­tics about chil­dren who are His­pan­ic or Lati­no include: 

  • Weight: More than two in five (43%) youth ages 10 to 17 are over­weight or obese, a high­er rate than those in oth­er racial or eth­nic groups and well above the nation­al rate of 33%, accord­ing to the KIDS COUNT Data Book. 
  • Health Insur­ance Cov­er­age: About 1 in 10 (9%) His­pan­ic or Lati­no chil­dren under age 19 lack health insur­ance, almost twice the nation­al rate (5%).
  • Near­ly 1 in 4 (23%) are liv­ing below the fed­er­al pover­ty lev­el, a fig­ure that has remained above the nation­al aver­age (17% in 2021) for decades. One in 10 lives in extreme pover­ty, which means below 50% of the fed­er­al pover­ty threshold.
  • Secure Parental Employ­ment: While the rate of chil­dren whose par­ents lacked secure employ­ment improved over the pre­vi­ous decade, it spiked in 2021 dur­ing the COVID 19 pandemic—up to 35% for His­pan­ic or Lati­no kids ver­sus 29% nationwide.
  • Pan­dem­ic Income Loss: His­pan­ic or Lati­no house­holds with kids were also among the most like­ly racial or eth­nic groups to lose employ­ment income between Decem­ber 2021 and Octo­ber 2022. Pro­vid­ing more con­text to these find­ings of pan­dem­ic-relat­ed employ­ment hard­ship, the KIDS COUNT Data Book report­ed that these kids are the most like­ly to live with a head of house­hold who lacks a high school diploma.
  • Medi­an Income: The medi­an annu­al income for fam­i­lies that are His­pan­ic or Lati­no ($57,800 in 2021) con­tin­ues to be far below the nation­al aver­age ($84,200) as well as that of white ($102,700) and Asian and Pacif­ic Islander fam­i­lies ($124,800).
  • Median Famly Income by Race and Ethnicity for 2021Hous­ing Cost Bur­dens: Kids who are His­pan­ic or Lati­no are more like­ly to live in house­holds with high hous­ing-cost bur­dens, mean­ing more than 30% of month­ly income goes to hous­ing expens­es, com­pared to the aver­age U.S. child (39% ver­sus 30%, respectively). 

These rep­re­sent a small selec­tion of find­ings for His­pan­ic or Lati­no kids, youth and fam­i­lies. You can access 100+ mea­sures by race and eth­nic­i­ty relat­ed to demo­graph­ics, eco­nom­ics, fam­i­ly and com­mu­ni­ty issues, edu­ca­tion, health and safe­ty on the KIDS COUNT Data Cen­ter.

Build­ing Stronger His­pan­ic and Lati­no Communities 

These data can be used by pol­i­cy­mak­ers, fun­ders, advo­cates and oth­er lead­ers to increase aware­ness and sup­port for His­pan­ic or Lati­no chil­dren and fam­i­lies, build stronger com­mu­ni­ties and ensure that they have equi­table access to the oppor­tu­ni­ties and resources need­ed to thrive. Evi­dence-based exam­ples to pro­vide a path to suc­cess include:

  • main­tain­ing and strength­en­ing safe­ty net pro­grams, like the child tax cred­it and food and hous­ing assistance; 
  • pro­vid­ing broad access to afford­able and culturally/​linguistically appro­pri­ate ear­ly child­hood edu­ca­tion pro­grams, fam­i­ly sup­port ser­vices and men­tal health care — espe­cial­ly in under-resourced neighborhoods; 
  • ensur­ing that all fam­i­lies have access to high-qual­i­ty, afford­able health insur­ance and health care; and 
  • max­i­miz­ing two-gen­er­a­tion com­mu­ni­ty approach­es that improve the qual­i­ty of schools for kids — par­tic­u­lar­ly in low-income com­mu­ni­ties — and help par­ents with their own edu­ca­tion, job skills and oth­er needs. 

Explore More Resources Relat­ed to His­pan­ic and Lati­no Chil­dren and Youth

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