Breaking Barriers for Latino Children

 

From our country to our community, we are experiencing demographic changes that will alter how we serve our people and how we relate to each other. It is projected that by 2035, one in three children will be Latino. Currently, 51% of Latino children in Franklin County live in distressed (low-opportunity) neighborhoods. Therefore, we chose to acknowledge these changes by focusing the 2016 Champion of Children Report: Voices of Latino Boys on their experiences here in central Ohio. How we respond to these changes today will determine how many opportunities lie ahead and how successful these boys are tomorrow.

Key challenges noted in the report include:

  • Limited time and resources available to help parents prepare for the future;
  • Language barriers at home and in the community; and
  • Documentation status and the stress that goes with it.

Parents want more for their children than they themselves had. Many are working multiple jobs and long hours to support their family. Ironically, it was the boys that we spoke with that called for more resources and support for their parents. Additionally, the boys described how having positive influences, mentors, would help their peers “make better choices and not go down the wrong path.”

Language barriers present several challenges. Boys noted the difficulty in switching back and forth from one language at home to another at school. We heard about long appointment wait times for translators to become available. Additionally, overcoming the assumption that Spanish is the universal language of Latinos is a barrier for those needing to access their native language.

The fear of deportation can be subtle but powerful, regardless of actual legal status. Latino boys in our community are acutely aware of how delicate this situation could be. Many expressed anxiety over deportation and immigration issues for their family and friends. Estimating a number of immigrants in central Ohio, or even the U.S., without documentation is challenging for several reasons. However, we do know that in 2009, nearly 60% of Latino children in the U.S. lived in families in which at least one parent is an immigrant.

While describing challenges faced by our Latino boys the report simultaneously showcases their resilience and determination. They described great cultural pride and many credit their parents for their achievements. Latinos show strength in social ties to faith, family and friends and leverage each to support one another.

As a community, we can contribute to the future success our Latino boys. These recommendations are your call to action.

  • Create a diverse teacher pipeline to match the demographic pipeline.
  • Promote emotionally and culturally intelligent practices within the classroom.
  • Support dedicated advocates. From guides to help parents better navigate our systems to mentors to provide a positive influence in these boys’ lives.
  • Provide a dedicated place where affordable resources are available for parents and children. For children, the space would a safe place with educational and constructive activities. Resources for parents include job assistance, legal assistance, English classes, etc.

To download a copy of the report, go here

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Delilah Lopez is the Director of Champion of Children for United Way of Central Ohio (UWCO). She develops and executes funding strategies to expand public awareness and education around issues impacting children in our community. Through branded events and communication, she engages and mobilizes the community around these critical issues. Throughout her 15-year career, Delilah has successfully demonstrated her ability to educate, mobilize and raise funds that have been invested in strategies to reduce poverty in the community, protect the environment, and fund medical research. Delilah’s UWCO career began in April 2011 as a member of the Corporate Resource Development team. During this time she raised more than $40 million by managing external year-round relationships with current and prospective donors, volunteers and advocates through community engagement, education, and workplace campaigns. She continues to co-lead United Way’s strategy for engaging the central Ohio Latino community. Delilah’s community involvement includes membership in the Women’s Leadership Council (WLC) and E3 Initiative mentor. She also volunteers for and attends events benefiting women’s and children’s issues, animal welfare, and the environment. Delilah attended Bowling Green State University, majoring in Recreation and Tourism, with a focus in Commercial Tourism.  A native of Toledo, Ohio, Delilah has resided in Columbus since 2003.