Beyond the Rhetoric: Improving Service to the Hispanic Community
As you know, the Latino vote was a major contributor to the re-election of President Obama last month and has brought much attention to this, the fastest growing minority in the country. Hispanics now comprise 21 percent of the population under 25, but they also have the highest poverty rate. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, more Latino children are living in poverty — 6.1 million in 2010 — than children of any other racial or ethnic group. Unfortunately, due to a variety of factors and barriers, federal resources often do not reach Latino children and families living in disenfranchised poor communities.
At a time when federal budgets are tight, it is important to use innovative strategies to reach this segment of our society. Attached is an overview of the work the National Alliance For Hispanic Families (NAHF) has been involved in over the past year with the Administration For Children and Families. To characterize this work as a success would be misleading, as you will read. But the eight practical, budget-neutral recommendations are solid and can be applied to any federal agency to quickly improve and expand service to the Hispanic population.
NAHF is dedicated to improving the lives of Hispanic families throughout the country, and we would welcome an opportunity to talk with you about the recommendations outlined in this report.
NAHF Letter to Acting Assistant Secretary George Sheldon, Administration for Children and Families
Download National Alliance for Hispanic Families’ letter to Acting Assistant Secretary George Sheldon, Administration for Children and Families by clicking here.
Report On Teen Pregnancy
While Latino teens have the highest birth rates of any youth population in the United States, they are alarmingly underrepresented in the testing of programs touted by the federal government as the best interventions geared to reduce teen pregnancies, according to a new study released today by our organization.
Recently the Health and Human Services Office of Adolescent Health announced a funding opportunity for teen pregnancy prevention with the caveat that all funds be used to implement one of 28 specific programs. These programs, OAH noted, had undergone “rigorous evaluation” and were deemed the best of their kind in reducing teenage pregnancy and its behavioral risks. But in an NAHF review of the empirical tests used to evaluate the programs, only 18 percent of all participants were Hispanic. Further, of the 29 studies on the programs, only 15 even included Hispanic youth.
“We’re asking how government officials know these are the best 28 teen pregnancy programs if only 18 percent of the kids who participated in the evaluation of these programs were Latino — the group with the highest teen pregnancy rate,” said Dr. Luis Zayas, the study’s lead researcher and director of the Center for Latino Research at Washington University in St. Louis. “We’re not saying these programs don’t work. We’re just saying we’re not sure they’re the best and most effective for Latino youth.”
While NAHF applauds the overall initiative and the Administration’s efforts to ensure that funding generates the maximum results, the organization’s leaders are concerned that a disproportionately less number of Hispanic-serving organizations will be successful in their application for teen pregnancy prevention funds given the funding stream’s limitations. NAHF calls on the administration to correct oversights of the past and undertake more Hispanic-based research.
To conduct tests that narrow the teen pregnancy program selection to 28 without including a large swath of the population is like “mandating that everyone in the country undergo a particular medical treatment that hasn’t taken into account diet, body type, activity level, and other important factors,” Zayas said. “We’re just saying these 28 youth programs may not be the best empirically tested interventions given that the studies in which they were developed and tested omitted a large portion of the population.”
Click here to see the full report (link).
Reporte sobre Embarazos en la Adolescencia
Mientras los adolescentes latinos registran las más altas tasas de natalidad de cualquier población joven en Estados Unidos, son sub-representados de forma alarmante en la prueba de programas promocionado por el gobierno federal cuyas buenas intenciones busca reducir embarazos en la adolescencia, de acuerdo con un estudio publicado por nuestra organización.
Recientemente, La Oficina para la Salud Adolescente de los Servicios Humanos y de Salud anunció una oportunidad para financiar la prevención de embarazos en la adolescencia con la salvedad de que todos los fondos fuesen usados para implementar uno de los 28 programas específicos. Estos programas, el OAH acotó, han sufrido una “rigurosa evaluación” y fueron determinados como los mejores en su clase para la reducción de embarazos adolescentes y sus riesgos de la conducta. Pero en una revisión del NAHF sobre estas pruebas empíricas usadas para evaluar los programas, solo el 18 por ciento de todos los participantes fueron hispanos. Más aún, de los 29 estudios sobre los programas, solo 15 apenas incluyeron a la juventud hispana.
“Nos preguntamos cómo los funcionarios del gobierno saben que estos son los mejores 28 programas sobre embarazos en la adolescencia si solo el 18 por ciento de los chicos que participaron en la evaluación de estos programas fueron latinos—el grupo con la más alta tasa de embarazos en la adolescencia”, dijo Dr. Luis Zayas, el investigador principal de este estudio y director del Center for Latino Research de la Universidad Washington de St. Louis. “No estamos insinuando que estos programas no funcionan. Estamos diciendo que no estamos seguros de que sean los mejores y más efectivos para la juventud”.
Mientras NAHF aplaude la iniciativa en general y los esfuerzos de la actual administración para asegurar que la financiación genere los máximos resultados, los líderes de la organización se muestran preocupados de que un menor número desproporcionado de organizaciones que sirven a la comunidad hispana tendrán éxito en la solicitud de financiación para programas de embarazo adolescente debido a las limitaciones en el flujo de financiamiento. NAHF hace un llamado a la administración para corregir estos descuidos del pasado y emprender una investigación mayormente basada en los hispanos.
Grant Funding To Hispanic-Serving Organizations
Summary of Survey Results
Urban Strategies (US), in partnership with the National Alliance for Hispanic Families (NAHF), conducted a survey to gather information on Hispanic-serving organizations’ experience with and perceptions of both state and federal government grant funding. The purpose of the survey was to understand whether Hispanic-serving organizations are aware of and accessing government grants and to gather their input on ways to increase the level of government support to Hispanic-serving organizations. Survey results are intended to inform discussions with policymakers to take place in the summer of 2010. A total of 126 individuals completed the instrument.
Respondent Demographics and Service Focus
- Nearly 70% of respondents lived in California, Illinois, and Texas, with the remaining respondents from 19 other states.
- 43.2% of respondents reported having a staff of 0 to 5 full-time employees. The next highest response was 100+ employees at 19.3%, implying a vast spread in the size of respondents’ organizations.
- Similarly, approximately 48.7% of respondents reported budgets of under $500,000, and 40% of respondents reported budgets of greater than $1 million.
- Parenting education/enhancement services are provided by approximately 6 out of 10 respondents (62.2%), as are marriage and relationship education/enhancement services (60%).
- Teen pregnancy prevention and fatherhood services are provided by approximately 3 out of 10 respondents (29.6%).
- Other service areas most often identified by respondents included a range of services for youth (e.g., mentoring, early childhood, education/tutoring, abuse prevention, gang prevention); services to address issues related to poverty (e.g., food pantries, workforce development/job training, housing/shelters); and services to the incarcerated.
- 62.8% of respondents reported that 70% or more of the people they serve are Hispanic, and 81.8% reported that 51% or more are Hispanic.
- An overwhelming majority (95.6%) believe that there is unmet need for their services in their local Hispanic community, and 68.5% cited insufficient budget as one cause.
Survey Findings and Themes: State Grants
- More than 6 out of 10 respondents (63.1%) were unaware of state government grants available to support the services they are providing or could provide in their local Hispanic community.
- Organization size appeared to correlate to some degree with organizations’ awareness of state grants: more than half (53.1%) of respondents answering “no” to the question about awareness of state government grants reported having 0 to 5 employees. However, small size did not guarantee that organizations are unaware of grants, as 11% of those answering “no” to this question reported more than 100 employees.
- Similarly, nearly 6 out of 10 respondents (58.9%) who are not aware of state government grants estimated their operating budget at under $500,000. However, small budget size did not guarantee that organizations are unaware of grants, as 29.5% of those answering “no” to this question reported a budget of greater than $1 million.
- 41 respondents reported that they had received a state grant in the past.
- When organizations who had never applied for a state grant were asked why they had not applied, the top four reasons included not knowing about the grant (53.9%), not having a grant writer (43.8%), not knowing how to apply (29.2%), and not having enough time (25.8%).
- When asked what would make them more likely to apply for a state grant, the most common answer was being aware of opportunities (e.g., “More information of available state resources for small organizations” and “Just need to be aware of the RFP”). The three other most common types of responses included gaining more knowledge of the process, having access to a grant writer or other person to help, and having a simpler process.
- Although almost 6 out of 10 respondents reported knowing of a Hispanic-serving organization that had received a state grant, an overwhelming majority (86.4%) believed that an insufficient amount of money is reaching Hispanic communities to fund the types of services their organizations provides or could provide.
- When asked what they believed would help more state grant money reach their local community to fund these types of services, the most common responses by organizations who did not know about state grants were related to increased outreach and awareness. In general, these respondents felt that:
- their organization needs to be more aware of the available opportunities;
- states need to conduct better outreach about opportunities to Hispanic-serving organizations in order for more awareness to occur; and
- states need to be more aware of the need among Hispanic-serving organizations.
- The second and third most common types of responses to this question given by organizations that were generally unaware of grants included training/education and equitable allocation or set-asides for Hispanic-serving organizations/programs.
Survey Findings and Themes: Federal Grants
- In general, respondents were more aware of federal grants available to pay for the types of services they provided, with more than 6 out of 10 (62.9%) saying they are aware of these grants.
- Respondents were also more likely to have received federal grants then state grants, with 63 respondents saying they had won a federal grant in the past.
- Reasons cited for not applying for federal grants did not significantly differ from those cited regarding state grants (i.e., not knowing about the grant, not having a grant writer, not knowing how to apply, and not having enough time).
- As with state grants, most of respondents’ answers fit into four primary themes when they were asked what would make them more likely to apply: awareness/knowledge of opportunities, access to grant writing services or a grant writer, a simpler process, and more knowledge and understanding of how to do it.
- 75.6% of organizations knew of Hispanic-serving organizations that had received a federal grant, yet more than 8 out of 10 respondents (86.2%) believed that the tax dollars reaching Hispanic-serving organizations providing the types of services they do or could provide are insufficient.
Selected Respondent Feedback and Suggestions
Respondents were given the opportunity to write in reasons they had not applied for state or federal grants in the past and what would make them more likely to apply in the future. The following list includes a selection of responses to these questions.
- “In the past we expanded a substantial amount of operating funds in applying for grants, with little success for all of the effort. We decided that we were better off using our limited resources on the actual work with Hispanic nonprofits then to use said money on competitive grants.”
- “Help organizations working in the Latino community to better access the state grants.”
- “Attend a workshop that will provide all the steps.”
- “Grant writing is full time. Running a program and trying to write the grant lessens the possible strength and effectiveness of the effort.”
- “By building awareness of the need at the national and state levels, more funds can be made available to address service needs within the Hispanic community. Public forums can be held to build awareness.”
- “More equitable distribution of state resources to Latino communities.”
- “More studies on the Hispanic community that proof [sic] the needs of the services. Fare [sic] allocation of the state money.”
- “Entrenchment – same large mainstream orgs get money – they don’t serve or cannot appropriately serve needs of Hispanic community.”
Implications of Study
The findings of this survey imply that more work needs to be done to inform policymakers and federal agency leadership about the needs and challenges facing Hispanic communities and the organizations who serve them. Policy direction could also focus on ensuring that funds to serve Hispanic communities are allocated to organizations from within the Hispanic community that have a demonstrated track record of providing culturally appropriate services. Efforts could also focus on helping smaller, less established Hispanic-serving organizations compete for grant funds.
Given respondents’ focus on becoming more aware of opportunities and on becoming more equipped to respond to them, future directions could also include examining outreach to Hispanic-serving organizations by government organizations and implementing culturally appropriate grant writing training to boost organizational capacity.
|Click on the image to view the 2009 NAHF Summit report (file is large and may take a while to download).
NAHF Background Information
The Hispanic population has become the largest and fastest growing minority community, accounting for half of the country’s population growth since 2000.1 The purchasing power of more than 40 million Hispanic U.S. residents reached $870 billion in 2008.2 The annual growth rate of Hispanics in the workforce has been four to eight times greater than that of non-Hispanics for nearly a decade.2 And, in last year’s presidential election, the increasing influence of the Hispanic population was evident as three out of four Hispanics voted for President Obama in key battleground states including California, Florida, Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada.
This exponential growth has not been without challenges. Approximately 28% of Latino children live in poor families. Rates of child poverty among Latino children range from 20% in New Jersey, Florida, and Illinois to 35% in Texas.4 Hispanic youth are 3 times more overrepresented in the high school drop out rate. The out of wedlock birth rate among Hispanics remains high while research shows that Latino children of single mothers are more than twice as likely to be poor as those in two-parent families.5 Finally, despite comprising nearly 15% of the country’s population, Hispanics are under-represented in policy-making, administrative, and elected office positions. For example, only 5% of Congressional seats are held by Hispanics.
In spite of the growing and unmet needs set against the backdrop of a rapidly growing population, the greatest asset among the Hispanic community remains the family. Regrettably, strategies and initiatives aimed at supporting the Hispanic community have focused on individual needs outside the context of the family, resulting in outcomes that fall short of achieving long-term, sustainable impact. Families are the “system” in which individuals, especially Hispanics, thrive or fail. Research shows that strong families provide an environment in which children and youth flourish, and where individuals can learn the skills that will enable them to effectively function in today’s challenging environment.
Recognizing a vacuum of comprehensive strategies that strengthen Hispanic families, national and local leaders have joined together to form the National Alliance for Hispanic Families. To achieve the goal of ensuring that families are the foundation to any social initiative, the Alliance will engage in three key areas: Program Intervention and Prevention facilitates increased resources to comprehensively serve Hispanic children and families, at the core of which is family relationship development through problem solving skills, communication skills, conflict management, and shared family values; Public Policy that educates policy makers on family relationship development strategies within the Hispanic community; and Research highlights the unique strengths and needs within the Hispanic family.
Collectively, the founding members of the National Alliance for Hispanic families represent a politically and geographically diverse collection of organizations committed to strengthening the Hispanic family.
1Research and Markets report, released May 19, 2008
2U.S. Census Bureau
3Pew Hispanic Center, The Hispanic Vote in 2008
4National Center for Children in Poverty
5Fact Sheet on Latino Youth: Poverty and Income, University of California – San Francisco
Group Launches Bold Hispanic Initiative
Washington, DC (March 11, 2009) – A coalition of Hispanic leaders today launched the National Alliance for Hispanic Families, a bold and innovative initiative aimed at harnessing public and private resources to strengthen Hispanic families throughout the United States.
The new organization plans to promote comprehensive program services, relevant research, and strategic public policy decisions that promote and strengthen Hispanic families. Leaders of the Alliance believe that current social service programs often focus too narrowly on individuals alone, rather than within the context of their families. The group’s goal is to create a long-term strategy that works with and through families and provides an environment in which children and youth flourish.
The Alliance’s efforts are consistent with themes President Barack Obama plans to address, including responsible fatherhood, enhancing the role of parents in the family and reducing teenage pregnancy. Tuesday Obama told members of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce the high-school drop-out rate among Latinos is unacceptable and called for individuals from all backgrounds to come together to solve this “epidemic.”
For Hispanics, the drop-out rate is one of several challenges. Studies show that in 2007, nearly 30 percent of all Hispanic children lived in poverty, and an increasing number of babies were born out of wedlock to Hispanic teenage mothers.
“We want to bring the issues facing Hispanic families to the forefront while promoting comprehensive social service strategies that leverage the community’s greatest asset – the family,” says Dr. Blanca Enriquez, a leader in Head Start programming and member of the NAHF executive committee.
The framework of the Alliance was formed during a meeting last November where leaders from across the country discussed the need for a national plan to expand the work of the Hispanic Healthy Marriage Initiative currently funded by the department of Health and Human Services. Members of the group’s executive steering committee include Frank Fuentes, HHS; Dr. Blanca Enriquez, El Paso Head Start; Jose Villalobos, TELACU; Dr. Alicia La Hoz, Chicago Family Bridges Project; and Lisa Treviño Cummins of Urban Strategies.
“As the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population, our country’s prosperity is intricately linked to the Hispanic community ,” said TELACU’s Villalobos. “And success within the Hispanic community is directly tied to the strength of their families.”
In June, the organization’s founders will host a national leaders forum in Washington, D.C. to further develop the Alliance’s long-term strategy to build on the Hispanic communities’ assets to serve families in need.