Latino Children Vital to Nation’s Future but Investment Needed to Boost Their Well-Being & Prospects

October 25 2012


Kathy Mimberg
(202) 776-1714

Hispanic children represent nearly 15.8 million potential new voters added to the U.S. electorate by 2028 and a significant portion of our future workforce

WASHINGTON, D.C.—According to a briefing held today by NCLR, the slight gains made over the last decade by Latino children—who represent nearly one in four U.S. children and a large portion of this country’s future workers, taxpayers and voters—will erode without a greater investment of effort and resources to prepare them to succeed in a global economy. To support this claim, NCLR unveiled its “Latino Kids Data Explorer,” which provides policymakers, child advocates and other stakeholders with quick access to data produced by the Population Reference Bureau and Child Trends on 27 factors of child well-being. These indicators include measurements of education, health and economic status at the national and state levels, allowing users to create tables and compare data between states, peer groups and time periods. The online resource, developed with funding from the Birth to Five Policy Alliance, and the accompanying infographic are available for free to the public.

“One of the most alarming trends in the data we reviewed is the growing number of Latino children living in poverty. Given the disproportionate impact of the recession on Latino workers and the fact that poverty can often carry over from one generation to another, it is increasingly important that we help low-income Latino families and give future generations the opportunity for a better life. It is encouraging to see that more Hispanic children attend preschool today and can be enrolled in health insurance programs, but we are not doing enough to improve on this progress,” said Patricia Foxen, Deputy Director of Research at NCLR.

The “Latino Kids Data Explorer” provides state-by-state information on how Latino children are faring in terms of poverty, teen pregnancy, maternal education, access to health insurance, high school graduation rates and more, allowing comparisons between states and revealing how these children’s ability to succeed as productive members of society is influenced by these factors. For example, one-third of all Latino children in the U.S. live in poverty, and that number is rising. In 2010, Latino children made up 35 percent of all children living in poverty, compared to 28.4 percent in 1999.

These are alarming statistics considering that the number of Latinos under age 18 in the U.S. grew by 40 percent from 2000 to 2011, increasing from 12.4 million to 17.5 million; 93 percent of them are U.S. citizens. By contrast, the growth rate for White and Black children during the same period decreased by 11 percent and 4 percent respectively.

Yet not all trends are negative; 370,000 more Latino children attended preschool in 2010 than in 2000, a strong predictor of future academic achievement, and the number of Hispanic children not attending preschool dropped from 52 percent in 2000 to 46.6 percent in 2010. However, according to NCLR experts, this gain is threatened by growing poverty and the current budget climate. A separate fact sheet, Building a Brighter Future: Latino Children—Ready to Learn and Lead?, outlines the challenges that Latino children face from birth to age eight and emphasizes the importance of early childhood education programs.

“All children deserve a good education, quality health care, safe neighborhoods, families that can provide for them and nurturing communities. Preschool is at the top of the list of programs that can help Latino children. Studies show that children who attend high-quality preschool do better in school overall, are more likely to graduate from high school, are less likely to be arrested and earn more income over their lifetime than their peers who do not attend preschool,” said Liany Elba Arroyo, Associate Director, Education and Children’s Policy Project, at NCLR.

NCLR highlighted in Latinos Turning 18 the enormous number of future potential voters that this group represents. Between 740,000 and one million Latino citizen children will turn 18 each year between 2010 and 2028, adding nearly 15.8 million potential voters to the American electorate. Clarissa Martínez-De-Castro, Director of Civic Engagement and Immigration at NCLR, pointed out that when Latino voters go to the polls on November 6, they want to support candidates at all levels of government who advance policies that ensure children are healthy, safe, educated and prepared to contribute to a strong economy.

“By 2018, Hispanics will make up 18 percent of our country’s workforce. The contributions that Latino children will make to our nation and economy as adults largely depend on decisions made by today’s leaders. We all want America to thrive, and that is not going to happen unless we vote for leaders who recognize that we must invest in the next generation now,” said Martínez-De-Castro.

NCLR—the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States—works to improve opportunities for Hispanic Americans. For more information on NCLR, please visit or follow along on Facebook and Twitter.


Issues: Children’s Research, Children’s Data Book, Youth
Geography:California, Far West, Midwest, Northeast, Southeast, Texas