What Works for Latino/Hispanic Children and Adolescents: Lessons Learned from Experimental Evaluations of Programs and Interventions

Child Trends

Thirty-three social intervention programs were studied to conclude their effectiveness specifically on Latino/Hispanic children in a variety of categories.

Overall, they found that programs targeting families tended to work, as well as culturally infused programs and the inclusion of Spanish-speaking program facilitators. Eighteen of the 33 programs were found to have some positive impact on at least one child or adolescent outcome.

The categories include substance use, academic achievement, reproductive health, physical health, violent or hyperactive behavior and social skills.

In the substance abuse category, interventions that included parents, utilized in-school programs and that taught resistance skills proved effective.

For academic achievement, programs that included bilingual education for younger children, and were taught by certified teachers, worked the best.

In the reproductive health and sexuality category, effective programs for Latino/Hispanic adolescents were administered by well trained facilitators, combined abstinence education with contraceptive education, and incorporated volunteer and service learning.

The physical health and nutrition programs that worked the best included health education in combination with exercise and distribution of newsletters.

The treatment of violent or hyperactive behavior was most effectively changed by family therapy-based programs and programs facilitated by ethnically similar teachers.

Findings were inconclusive for programs aimed at helping Latino/Hispanic children and adolescents with their social skills, mainly because such programs are hard to find.

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