Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

Janet Chang


Latino immigrants have a strong presence in Southern, California. Although the Latino population can be attributed with possessing significant strengths and resiliency, their unique barriers as to legal status, language, and culture, have led to the researchers’ developing an interest on how undocumented immigrant status affects family reunification and service delivery within the child welfare system. The following research study focuses on evaluating how undocumented immigration status affects family reunification and service delivery in child welfare. It seeks to answer how current case work practice addresses the needs of undocumented Latino immigrant families that become involved within the child welfare system and how their undocumented immigration legal status impacts the reunification process and the receipt of services within the community. For the purpose of this study, an urban Southern California child welfare agency servicing a large population of immigrant Latinos was utilized. Using the constructivist paradigm, researchers interviewed ten children’s social service workers that possessed a mixture of knowledge, experience, and insight as to this population.

The study found that undocumented Latino immigrants faced barriers related to their poor acculturation, that affected their family reunification. For instance, not understanding the English language, not understanding child abuse laws, limited access to culturally appropriate services, and social workers’ limited knowledge of working with undocumented Latino immigrant clients were barriers faced by this population. The findings in this study can be utilized by the child welfare agency to improve cultural awareness trainings for child welfare workers, work towards increasing culturally sensitive service availability, and advance policy.

Included in

Social Work Commons