Helping Immigrant Families Overcome Challenges
When families migrate, they often separate and then reunify, which requires a redefining of the family. Cultural competency with immigrant children and families requires more than just learning about their culture. It also includes an understanding of the process of migration, the reasons families migrate, and the process of acculturation and related family or marital stressors. Experts agree that to successfully achieve cultural competence, organizations must incorporate it into every level of their structure. Find resources in this section to help professionals work with immigrant families in a culturally competent manner and build culturally competent organizations.
- Cultural competency of workers
- Domestic violence
- Language issues
- Resources for Immigrant Families
- State and local examples
A Social Worker's Tool Kit for Working With Immigrant Families: Healing the Damage: Trauma and Immigrant Families in the Child Welfare System (PDF - 597 KB)
American Humane Association & Migration and Child Welfare National Network Provides public child welfare and community-based agencies working with immigrant families with guidelines for integrating child welfare practice. The toolkit also describes strategies for building an organization's capacity to better respond to the needs of immigrant families.
Suggestions for Interviewing Refugee and Immigrant Children and Families (PDF - 104 KB)
Bridging Refugee Youth and Children's Services (2009)
Shares recommendations on how to interview recently arrived refugees, immigrant children, and families in such settings as the school, social services, health clinic, or early childhood program. These interviews often require special sensitivity and preparation.
Cultural competency of workers
Immigration and Social Work (PDF - 1,117 KB)
Alliance for Children and Families
Practice and Policy Focus, 2, 2011
Includes articles that focus on social work services for immigrant families. The first newsletter article describes the consequences of an immigration raid for families and communities.
Immigrant Services Directory: A National Guide of Service Providers (PDF - 6,226 KB)
American Civil Liberties Union Foundation's Immigrants' Rights Project (2nd ed.) (2010)
Includes over 400 organizations from all 50 States. The directory has information about each organization regarding services provided, the area and detention facilities served, non–English language services, and other relevant information.
Protecting Assets and Child Custody in the Face of Deportation: A Guide for Practitioners Assisting Immigrant Families (PDF - 2,437 KB)
Annie E. Casey Foundation & Appleseed (2010)
Summarizes several potential issues an individual may confront in the face of deportation or voluntary departure. The manual also outlines basic steps a person can take to manage these issues before or, if necessary, after they have left the United States. It is designed to aid direct service providers as they counsel their clients through the process.
Serving Immigrant Families (PDF - 3,123 KB)
Virginia Department of Social Services, Child Protective Services Unit
Virginia Child Protection Newsletter, 90, 2011
Reviews the different types of immigrants, some effects of immigration, the process of migration, trauma and challenges at each stage, and models for understanding the immigration process. The newsletter also discusses the typical conflicts with acculturation and key considerations for service provision.
Working With Immigrant Families: A Practical Guide for Counselors
Zagelbaum & Carlson (Eds.) (2011)
Discusses how therapists can enhance and apply strategies that will aid immigrant families in ways that are more specific to the area and community in which they live. This book also has chapters that define essential concepts related to the psychological and interpersonal development of culturally different individuals.
Asian and Pacific Islander Institute on Domestic Violence
Provides technical assistance to advocates, community organizations, professionals, and researchers on gender violence in Asian, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities.
Provides centralized assistance and resources to those advocating for noncitizen survivors of violence in the immigration law arena, including training for lawyers, domestic violence and sexual assault advocates, law enforcement personnel, and civil and criminal court judges.
National Latin@ Network for Healthy Families and Communities
Provides information and resources on domestic violence issues within the Latino community. Resources are available in English and Spanish and are developed for advocates, social workers, community-based agencies, court staff/judges, and survivors.
12 Suggestions for Interviewing Children Using a Foreign Language Interpreter
Bridging Refugee Youth and Children's Services (2009)
Reviews a Federal law that requires any agency that receives Federal funds to provide services of an equal quality to people who have limited English proficiency and provides suggestions for interviewing children using a foreign language interpreter.
Language, Culture and Immigration Relief Options (PDF - 763 KB)
Lincroft & Cervantes (2010)
First Focus & Migration and Child Welfare National Network
Discusses some of the key challenges faced by the child welfare system in serving immigrant children and families and provides recommendations to promote effective practice and positive child welfare outcomes.
Lost in Translation: What to Consider When Working With Limited English Proficient Clients
Lincroft & Johnson
Children's Voice, 18(4), 2009
Explores the challenges social workers face when working with clients who have limited English proficiency.
Unique Challenges for Immigrant Families in the Child Welfare System
Casey Family Services
Discusses the rise in the immigrant population in the United States, the characteristics of at-risk immigrant populations, and systemic challenges the child welfare system faces in meeting the needs of immigrant families.
Resources for Immigrant Families
Living in the United States: A Guide for Immigrant Youth (PDF - 2,038 KB)
Immigrant Legal Resource Center (2007)
Explains the immigration laws for immigrant youth in an easy-to-read format. It also discusses the differences in legal rights and restrictions for a U.S. citizen, a green card holder, and an undocumented person.
Niños: A Guide to Help You Protect Your US-Born Child in the Event You Are Detained or Deported
Includes a do-it-yourself pack with information and forms designed to protect U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants who may someday be detained or deported, increase family stability, promote mental health, and give the immigrant family an increased sense of security in an uncertain world.
Protecting Parental Rights: Safety Planning for Parents
Women's Refugee Commission (2011)
Provides undocumented immigrant parents with steps to prepare for the possibility of separation from their children in order to increase the likelihood of reunification with their children if they are detained or deported.
Protecting Your Parental Rights: A Resource for Immigrant Detainees With Child Custody Issues in Arizona (PDF - 2,929 KB)
Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project (2010)
Presents a guide to help parents detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Arizona who are having child custody issues. The guide explains the child protective services system, dependency court process, and provides contact information for additional assistance
Raising Children in a New Country: An Illustrated Handbook
Bridging Refugee Youth and Children's Services (2007)
Provides an illustrated booklet for agencies serving refugees and immigrants to help them provide basic information about U.S. laws and parenting practices to newcomer parents with low levels of English proficiency and/or low literacy levels. Versions of the booklet translated into Arabic, Nepali, Spanish, and White Hmong are also available.
Bridging Refugee Youth and Children's Services (2012)
Highlights multilingual resources available on family life and parenting, early childhood, the U.S. K-12 school system, children's books, and health/mental health.
State and local examples
The Intersection of Immigration and Child Welfare
Family to Family California
Includes information produced by and for child welfare agencies working with immigrants, such as resources for immigrant foster families and youth in foster care, workshop and conference presentations, policy, and research.
When a Parent Is Incarcerated: A Primer for Social Workers (PDF - 587 KB)
Annie E. Casey Foundation
Provides practical information for public child welfare agencies and social workers working with children who have incarcerated parents in California. The primer discusses why child welfare agencies should develop programs and policies to address the needs of children receiving child welfare services with incarcerated parents and then discusses key child welfare considerations regarding incarcerated parents. Information on immigrant parents in deportation proceedings is also included.
Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic, Toppenish, WA; Spanish Language Parenting Education Program
Child Welfare Information Gateway
Describes a Spanish-language parenting education program funded through Children's Bureau Discretionary Grants and visited by a Children's Bureau contract staff member.