Latino families with young children experience significant disparities when they come to the attention of the child welfare system (Hines et al., 2003; Jones, 2006; Putnam-Hornstein et al., 2013). Despite this, limited research has examined the correlates of nurturing parenting for this population – which is alarming given the high stakes nature of child welfare system involvement, which can lead to temporary or permanent loss of custody. This study explores possible predictors of nurturing parenting among Latina mothers in a nationally representative sample of families who came to the attention of the child welfare system.
Data were drawn from the National Survey on Child and Adolescent Well-being II – Restricted Release (NSCAW-II), a longitudinal nationally representative sample of child welfare involved families. The study analysis was restricted to mothers of children between 0 and 5 years old who remained in their biological mother’s care (n=1,836). Multiple regression analysis was used to examine possible predictors of nurturing parenting.
Items from the Home Observation Measurement of the Environment-Short-Form scale (HOME-SF; Bradley & Caldwell, 1984, 1988) were used to construct a measure of nurturing parenting (α=.98). Others measures used meeting psychometric standards include: non-violent discipline (Conflict Tactics Scale, Parent-Child Version; α=.79; Straus et al., 1998), IPV (9 items, Conflict Tactic Scale 2; Straus et al., 1996), depression (Composite International Diagnostic Interview Short Form Depression scale; α=.95; Kessler et al., 1998), and social support (Duke-UNC Functional Social Support Questionnaire; α=.91; Broadhead et al., 1988).
Predictors were organized by parent demographics, variables of within-group difference (immigrant status, time in the US, documentation status, language spoken at home), micro factors (IPV, depression, physical health, non-violent parenting), mezzo factors (economic hardship, economic resources, social support), and macro factors (maltreatment substantiation).
Holding all other variables constant: mothers who had experienced IPV within the last 12 months experienced significantly lower nurturing parenting scores than did those who had not experienced any IPV in the last 12 months (B=-2.43, p<.01) and mothers who reported never using violent discipline had significantly higher nurturing parenting scores than those who had used violent discipline in the past year (B=2.01, p<.001). The model’s final is 54%.
These findings underscore the negative relationship between IPV and the positive relationship between non-violent discipline and nurturing parenting. The connection between IPV and nurturing parenting may be a particularly important predictor given that Latinas who experience IPV may face significant barriers to help-seeking (Petersen et al., 2005), which is further exacerbated for Latina immigrants (Bonilla Santiago, 2002).
For Latinas who are involved in the child welfare system, a particular contextual layer is added where mothers are often victims of abuse and also the primary caregiver. Considering these factors, combined with the impact that experiencing IPV has on parenting (Levendosky & Graham-Bermann, 2001; Levendosky et al., 2006; Margolin et al., 2003), social workers must engage in IPV assessment with Latina mothers that includes eliciting any fears or concerns about help-seeking, providing information about the help-seeking process, and assist mothers in accessing culturally relevant supportive services.