GRAND Magazine - Spring 2022 - 32
and policies, and children as young as three
have expressed fear that their parents will be
Since 2020, the coronavirus pandemic
and their families in the U.S. The arrival of immigrants
and their U.S.-born children has been a major component
of Latino population growth.
Immigrants have also experienced significant discrimination.
About half (48 percent) of Hispanics overall
said they had serious concerns about their place
in the country, according to a Pew Research Center
survey of Latino adults fielded in December 2019.
While voicing their concerns over their place in U.S.
society, 38 percent of Hispanic adults said they had
personally experienced discrimination in the previous
year. Over the years, Latino immigrant families
have been criminalized and deported at higher rates
than other immigrant groups. In addition to causing
economic instability, family separation harms
the socio-emotional and cognitive development of
young children. Even when families have not encountered
immigration enforcement, children of color
feel the spillover effects of anti-immigrant rhetoric
32 GRAND Winter 2022
(COVID-19) has exacerbated systemic
inequalities in the U.S. economy and health
care system; disproportionately impacting
communities of color and Latino immigrant
communities in particular. Latino children
were two times more likely than nonLatino
white children to lose a primary or
secondary caregiver to COVID-19.
All these factors point to a critical role for
Latino grandparents as caregivers stepping up to care
for children who so often come into their full-time
care after having experienced significant trauma.
Mercedes understands the impact of these challenges
all too well. She was forced to take early retirement
because the obligations of taking care of her
grandchildren made it impossible for her to keep her
job. She struggled to pay for food and clothing for
the children until she found a supportive community
at the Abuelos y Nietos Juntos (Grandparents and
Grandchildren Together) Support Group and found
help from Caritas Legal Services. Now Mercedes runs
the Texas Grandparents Raising Grandchildren program,
a statewide advocacy organization that fights
for culturally appropriate services for families like hers.
Because of her work more grandfamilies in Texas are
receiving the support they need to ensure their children
and communities thrive.
When we respect and build on the cultural
strengths of Latino grandfamilies,
we strengthen communities for everyone
who lives in them. Here are a few things
you can do to be a culturally thoughtful
neighbor and friend:
* Ask Latino children, youth, and elders about their
cultural identities and needs.
* Learn about specific Latino cultural rituals, activities,
and preferences by attending events, and studying
the history, culture, and values of the community.
* Consult educational resources such as books,
films, art, and music to learn about Latino heritage.
* Promote cultural rituals that assist in maintaining
identity such as quinceaneras (fifteenth birthday celebration),
religious or spiritual/ faith-based rituals, etc.
* Become culturally attuned to Latino populations
and always make room for cultural variables. Maintain
an investigative, humble attitude of not knowing
enough rather than relying upon stereotypes.
Content from this article was excerpted from
Generations United's toolkit: Latino Grandfamilies:
Helping Latino Children Thrive Through
Connection to Culture and Family.
Jaia Peterson Lent is Deputy Executive
Director of Generations United,
a national organization dedicated
to improving lives. Home to the
National Center on Grandfamilies,
Generations United is a leading voice
for issues affecting families headed by
grandparents or other relatives.
GRAND Magazine - Spring 2022
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of GRAND Magazine - Spring 2022
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