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Sibling caretaking in immigrant families: Understanding cultural practices to inform child welfare practice and evaluation


  • Hafford, Carol


The field of migration studies has well-documented children and youth's roles as [`]culture brokers,' by which they mediate relationships, information, and services between the immigrant household and the institutions of the host society. There is growing interest in understanding the contribution of children and youth to socially valued reproductive activity within immigrant households in the United States. Ethnographic studies reveal that children and adolescents in immigrant families have significant responsibilities related to daily life and family functioning. This article focuses on the practice of sibling caretaking, in which older children supervise and socialize younger children, according to culturally informed family roles, responsibilities, and obligations. The purpose of this review is twofold: (1) to familiarize practitioners and evaluators with this cross-cultural practice; and (2) to discuss the implications of sibling caretaking with regard to the identification of familial risk and protective factors associated with migration and acculturation, and factors that inform culturally sensitive assessments, interventions, and evaluations related to family functioning and social support.

Suggested Citation

  • Hafford, Carol, 2010. "Sibling caretaking in immigrant families: Understanding cultural practices to inform child welfare practice and evaluation," Evaluation and Program Planning, Elsevier, vol. 33(3), pages 294-302, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:epplan:v:33:y:2010:i:3:p:294-302

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. S. Illeris & G. Akehurst, 2002. "Introduction," The Service Industries Journal, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 22(1), pages 1-3, January.
    2. Wulczyn, Fred & Zimmerman, Emily, 2005. "Sibling placements in longitudinal perspective," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 27(7), pages 741-763, July.
    3. Morrongiello, Barbara A. & MacIsaac, Trevor J. & Klemencic, Nora, 2007. "Older siblings as supervisors: Does this influence young children's risk of unintentional injury?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 64(4), pages 807-817, February.
    4. Shlonsky, Aron & Bellamy, Jennifer & Elkins, Jennifer & Ashare, Caryn J., 2005. "The other kin: Setting the course for research, policy, and practice with siblings in foster care," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 27(7), pages 697-716, July.
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