Before you read the rest of this post, grab a pen and paper and answer 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 not a surprise. Until recently, we knew very little about the portrait of Latino fathers. The reason knowing the answers to the questions above is so vital is some of the characteristics in them influence the likelihood of any father's involvement in the life of his child. From a service-delivery perspective, it's important to know the answers for planning services and programs for Latino fathers.
That' 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 and because the former 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 created the following portrait of Latino fathers, taken directly from the report. Their analysis included a comparison of immigrant and U.S.-born fathers.
- The majority of Latino fathers are immigrants.The immigrant experience is a key distinguishing feature of Latino fathers, with several stark differences found in the life experiences of Latino fathers who are immigrants versus those who were born in the United States.
- Most Latino fathers (64 percent) are immigrants, and half are Spanish-dominant speakers.
- Immigrant Latino fathers have lower rates of multiple partner fertility and teen fatherhood, and fewer have ever been in prison, jail, or juvenile detention than their U.S.-born counterparts.
- 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, for example.
- Most Latino fathers possess many characteristics that research suggests may promote child well-being.
- Roughly three quarters (73 percent) of Latino fathers live with all of their children.
- Most (82 percent) Latino fathers are currently married or cohabiting.
- And, most (85 percent) Latino fathers have children with only one partner.
- 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 percent—worked full-time or part-time in the last week, and 71 percent worked all 12 months of the last year.
- Roughly three quarters of Latino fathers have a high school education or less.
- The majority of Latino fathers have low income.
- Sixty-three percent 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).
- With a few exceptions, we found no differences in the characteristics of Latino fathers by income group, perhaps in part because the majority of Latino fathers are low-income. Among the characteristics that did vary by income group were education and employment in the last week—all variables that are highly correlated with income.
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 bi-lingual facilitators to deliver the programs and, to help meet the growing demand to serve Spanish-speaking fathers, make it possible for Spanish-dominant or Spanish-only facilitators to deliver the program
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, The Importance of an Involved Father, now available in Spanish.