Immigrant Children and Families and the Public Child Welfare System: Considerations for Legal Systems


Alan J. Dettlaff, Ph.D., MSW, is Assistant Professor in the Jane Addams College of Social Work, University of Illinois at Chicago. His research focuses on improving outcomes for immigrant children and families in the child welfare system, improving cultural competence, and influencing responses to racial and ethnic disparities. Correspondence:


Recent research findings have provided new information on children of immigrants who come to the attention of the child welfare system. This article reviews the current knowledge regarding the involvement of children of immigrants in this system, their exposure to risk factors, and their experience of maltreatment. The article also presents the challenges child welfare and legal systems face when children of immigrants enter the child welfare system that may impact their well-being, and concludes with recommendations for legal systems to work in collaboration with child welfare systems to facilitate positive outcomes for children in immigrant families.