National Hispanic Heritage Month
Taking a Closer Look at Latino Children’s Well-Being
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.
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).
- Housing 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
- 2023 KIDS COUNT Data Book
- Supporting English Language Learners (Blog)
- Act and Adapt: Helping Latino and African American Students Get Early Treatment for Depression (Blog)
- Latinos In Action: Building College and Career Skills Through Leadership (Blog)
- The Latinx Data Gap in the Youth Justice System (Report)
- Racial Equity and Inclusion (Resources)
- Two-Generation Approaches to Reducing Poverty (Resources)
- Who Are Children in Immigrant Families? (Blog)