The reality for America’s Latino families often counters a popular policy argument: To escape poverty, families must fit the traditional two-parent mold where at least one has a steady job to avoid depending on government benefits. There are good reasons why these ingredients dominate the debate: Children do better when raised by two parents in a family with a steady income. The problem with this argument is that this is not close enough to the full picture.
I have studied Latino families for a decade and have found that Latino children are one of the largest groups of children living in poverty, despite usually living with two parents, at least one of whom works. And, even though they are eligible, Latino families are less likely to receive government benefits.
This suggests that the old ways of looking at child poverty might be outdated. As we celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month, lawmakers should take a closer look at Latino families to find new ideas and solutions. To lift children out of poverty, we need an updated blueprint for policy conversations that builds on employment, two-parent households and safety nets to mobilize families to escape poverty.
What might that blueprint look like?