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4 Essential Things to Remember when Developing Fatherhood Programs for Latino Fathers

Posted by Melissa Steward

Latino Father with son

Before you read the rest of this article, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do most Latino fathers speak English or Spanish?
  • Are most Latino fathers immigrants or U.S. born?
  • Are most Latino fathers married or single?
  • What's the proportion of Latino fathers who live with their children compared to those who live apart from their children?
  • What's the proportion of Latino fathers who have children by one mother compared to children by multiple mothers?
  • What's the proportion of Latino fathers who are employed full or part time?
  • What's the average educational attainment of Latino fathers?
  • What's the proportion of Latino fathers who have low income? 

Stumped? If so, that's no surprise. Until recently, we knew very little about Latino fathers. However, understanding key charcteristics about these dads is critical because they can influence a father's involvement in the life of his child or children. Even more, knowing the answers to the questions above is critical to effectively developing fatherhood services and programs specific to Latino fathers.

That's why a recent report by the National Research Center on Hispanic Children & Families is so helpful to our understanding of just who are Latino fathers as a population. (I use the term "Latino" rather than "Hispanic" for consistency & because "Latino" is used in the title of the report. The authors, however, use the terms interchangeably.)

Analyzing data from the nationally representative National Survey of Family Growth, the authors found four major findings to paint an accurate portrait of Latino fathers. Their analysis included a comparison of immigrant and U.S.-born fathers.

1) The majority of Latino fathers are immigrants.

The immigrant experience is a key distinguishing feature of Latino fathers, with several significant differences between Latino fathers who are immigrants and those born in the United States.

  • Most Latino fathers (64%) are immigrants, and half are Spanish-dominant speakers.
  • Immigrant Latino fathers have lower rates of having children with multiple partners and teen fatherhood. These fathers are unlikely to have ever been in prison, jail, or juvenile detention.
  • Despite these differences, immigrant and U.S.-born Latino fathers share several important features. Latino fathers across groups tend to live with all of their kids and tend to be employed.

2) Most Latino fathers possess many characteristics that promote child well-being.

  • Roughly three quarters (73%) of Latino fathers live with all of their children.
  • Most (82%) Latino fathers are currently married or cohabiting.
  • Most (85%) Latino fathers have children with only one partner.

3) Most Latino fathers are employed, but have low levels of formal education, with few having received more than a high school education.

  • The vast majority of Latino fathers (89%) worked full-time or part-time in the last week, and 71% worked all 12 months of the last year.
  • Roughly three quarters of Latino fathers have a high school education or less. 

4) The majority of Latino fathers have low income.

  • 63% of Latino fathers have low income, defined as a household income at or below twice the federal poverty line (an annual income of $42,400 for a family of four in 2008).

The report goes into much more detail about this portrait, so I encourage you to download and read it.

Given that most Latino fathers are immigrants and half are Spanish-dominant speakers, it's critical to provide programs and resources in Spanish as part of a comprehensive approach to serving this population. National Fatherhood Initiative® (NFI) has increased its collection of Spanish-language resources through the years (click here to view them) to meet the growing demand among organizations that seek to provide culturally and linguistically-appropriate services and programs. 

One of our most recent offerings is a Spanish-language Facilitator's Manual for our 24/7 Dad® A.M. and P.M. programs. (Program materials for fathers, such as the Fathering Handbook, have always been available in Spanish.)

As demand has grown to serve Spanish speakers, organizations asked us for Spanish-language manuals to make it easier for bilingual facilitators to deliver the programs and to help meet the growing demand to serve Spanish-speaking fathers, making it possible for Spanish-dominant or Spanish-only facilitators to deliver the program.

To acquire Spanish-language manuals for either or both programs, please contact Jacquie Hannan, FatherSource™ Resource Center Director, at jhannan@fatherhood.org or 240-912-1263.

Does your organization serve Spanish-speaking fathers?

Are you aware of all the resources NFI has to help you serve these fathers? Check out our newest brochure, How Dad Can Be a Good Co-Parent, now available in Spanish.

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Topics: fathers, Hispanic

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