SUPPORT FOR LATINO FAMILIESLatino sm

The Latino community is an integral part of our Virginia economy and accounts for 9.3% of all Virginians. Within our schools, about 208,000 (16%) of nearly 1.3 million students in Virginia's K-12 public schools are Hispanic and about 35% have limited English proficiency. More than half of the Latino population resides in the Northern Virginia region, followed by Hampton Roads and Richmond. 

Connecting families with important information about our schools, celebrating cultural differences and advocating for unique concerns of each community are an integral part of creating a welcoming, inclusive parent community for your school. Here are resources you can use to connect with and support the Latino and English Learner Families in your community. 

PTA Commitment to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Nuestro Compromiso con la Diversidad, la Equidad y la Inclusión

Town Hall: Community of Support for English Language Learners

with Virginia Department of Education and Virginia Latino Advisory Board

Breaking Through the Language Barrier

More than half of the Latino population in Virginia is born in the United States and the majority that have immigrated come from El Salvador, Mexico and Puerto Rico. Per the Virginia Latino Advisory Board's 2018-2019 Annual Report, over half of Latinos living in Virginia (54.2%) are bilingual, over a quarter (27.7%) speak only English; and 17.3% (about 120,000 people) speak Spanish and limited or no English. 

Facilitating two-way communication and helping Latino families become engaged in the parent community means taking time to address language and cultural barriers. Bilingual materials, flexible meeting times, transportation, child care assistance, and translators can all help demonstrate your commitment to supporting a diverse multilingual community.   

Family Engagement & Title III Requirements

School divisions receive funding and are required through Title III of the Every Student Succeeds Act to provide family engagement activities that enable limited English families to meaningfully participate in their student’s education. Ask your local school division how your PTA can support or enhance school-based programs for immigrant and limited English families. Many school divisions offer the following supports: 

  • Parents as Educational Partners (PEP). These classes are offered by the school division to educate parents and families about the United States education system; teach English language skills and share strategies for becoming active participants in the education of their children.
  • Bilingual Parent Liaisons. Help build parent, family and community engagement and provide supplemental communication support to families as they support their student.
  • Translation. Ask about special bilingual take-home books; or translation resources available for teachers and PTAs.
  • Events. 
    • Field trips for limited English proficiency parents/families and students;
    • Social Emotional Learning events specifically created to meet the cultural needs of the community;
    • Community resource fairs and career fairs based on supporting EL students and their families

Evaluate your PTA's family engagement with these tools from National PTA 

Social Emotional Wellness & Student Support Services 

In addition to overcoming language barriers, many English Language Learners may have additional responsibilities outside of school such as caring for younger siblings, helping with financial burdens, or helping translate or interpret for family members. Additionally, stress from immigration, threat of deportation and high rates of COVID-19 may create stress for students and families. 

Special Education Resources 

Help your families learn how to advocate for thier special education student by connecting them with the Virginia Department of Education's Special Education resources. 

School Nutrition Program

School meals play a play a critical role in good nutrition, student well-being, and academic success. Due to a COVID-19 waiver from the United States Department of Agriculture, all children under the age of 18 can recieve free school meals until December 31, 2020. Families should look for information about how to pick-up meals from thier children's local school. In a typical school year, families with an income that falls below the federal poverty level can apply for free or reduced-price school meals through thier local school division.

The School Lunch Program does not require an individual to be a citizen or qualified alien. Immigration and refugee status is not collected as part of the application for free/reduced meals and it is illegal for the school nutrition office to share information from the school meal application without written consent from the parent/guardian.

Parents and families can find sites approved for meal service on the School Meal Finder website and additional details from their local school division. Families can also text “food” or “comida” to 877-877 to learn more about food options near them.

Housing & Income 

According to a report by the Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis (CIFA), foreign-born Hispanic and Latino-headed households tend to have lower incomes than other Virginians. Unfortunately, due to lack of affordable housing across the state, many Latino families are more vulnerable to eviction, which in turn has negative consequences on family stability, health, work and educational outcomes. 

The Virginia Rent and Mortgage Relief Program (RMRP) is designed to support and ensure housing stability across Virginia during the coronavirus pandemic. Sharing the following resources may be helpful for your families: 

Comparing your School's Performance

For information on how your school compares to other schools, visit Virginia's School Quality Profiles

Education Agency Resources

Family Resources 

Additional Associations Supporting Latino Families

Virginia Latino Advisory Board: Advises the Governor regarding the development of economic, professional, cultural, educational, and governmental links between the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Latino community in Virginia, and Latin America. The Board shall be composed of twenty-one non-legislative citizen members, at least fifteen of whom shall be of Latino descent. 

Virginia Coalition of Latino Organizations (VACOLAO):  Coalition of non-profit organizations serving and supporting the Latino/Hispanic immigrant communities in Virginia. VACOLAO works to empower, secure equal treatment, opportunity, and representation for Latinos/Hispanics.

Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s (VAHCC) Foundation: Builds economic bridges between Hispanic businesses and the community at large in order to create, promote, and enhance business opportunities for its members and partners.

Edu-Futuro Works to empowers under-resourced Latino and other immigrant youth through education, leadership development, and family engagement to become the next generation of professionals who transform their communities. 

Hispanic Heritage Foundation: The Hispanic Heritage Foundation identifies, inspires, prepares, and connects Latino Leaders in the community, classroom, and workforce 

Virginia Latino Higher Education Network:  Works to improve access and retention for Latino students, to increase the numbers of Latino faculty and staff, and to create campus climates which are nurturing and culturally sensitive.