Child Welfare and Latino Adolescents
Child welfare services have endured as the cornerstone of the nation’s social service system with the primary goal of providing a permanent, safe, and stable living environment for every child (Pecora, Whittaker, Maluccio, Barth, & Plotnick, 1994). Since the enactment of the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980 (PL96-272), child welfare services have enlarged considerably to include family preservation, kinship and nonkin foster care, family foster care, reunification, adoption and other permanent living arrangements, child care and school care programs, and parent education programs. Unfortunately, the distribution of and access to these services and resources has historically been different among groups based on income and race or ethnicity (Courtney, Barth, Berrick, Brooks, Needell, & Park, 1994). Differential patterns of utilization and representation by ethnic minorities in the United States are not unique to child welfare. National data from the U.S. Bureau of the Census, the National Center for Juvenile Justice, the National Institute of Mental Health, the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration, and the Children’s Defense Fund consistently reveal patterns of discrimination and differential treatment (Rivera-Martínez, 1992).