NEW YORK, May 1 /PRNewswire-HISPANIC PR WIRE/ — The National Latino Children’s Institute (NLCI), is marking its 10th Dia de Los Ninos in Washington, DC. US Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), joined by US Sen. Orrin Hatch, stood with NLCI, the Latin American Youth Center and other national Latino organizations to commemorate El Dia de los Ninos: Celebrating Young Americans and sign the 2009 Resolution. They declared this day an official holiday and continue to shed light on the critical needs of the surging Latino population and the changes in policies and programs that will assure their capacity to participate fully in this society. These critical issues are particularly relevant because of the President’s promise for change and his focus on early childhood development and the national healthcare crisis.
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“Our children are our future, and if we look at the students who make up our nation’s schools, we see that our future is one in which Latinos will have an even bigger influence,” Senator Menendez said. “With one out of five children in our public schools of Latino descent, it is critical that we ensure that these children have access to a quality, affordable education that enables them to unlock their potential and make a significant contribution to our nation. Particularly in this economic crisis, we have to lay the groundwork for lasting economic security by investing in our nation’s schools and students. El Dia de los Ninos reminds us of the importance of advocating on behalf of our children, celebrating their culture, and honoring their future contributions to our country.”
According to the July 2007 U.S. Census, there are 45.5 million Latinos living in the United States, making people of Hispanic origin the largest ethnic minority. The Latino population skews younger than the U.S. population and children account for 24% of the total Latino population under age five; and 62% of the 9.9 million Hispanic family households in the United States include children younger than 18. Unfortunately, 21.5% of Hispanic households fall below the poverty rate.
Young Latinos face an uncertain future. Despite unprecedented growing numbers in the Latino community, few resources are available to support appropriate policies and programs, and those for Latino children are even fewer. Census data confirms the worst statistics for Latino children — exacerbated by high poverty rates aligned with lack of access to quality heath and education services.
“Latino children continue to suffer the consequences of significant disparities in access to appropriate health, education, and social services, largely because of socioeconomic status,” Josephine Garza, executive director NLCI said. “It is imperative that we work together to improve access and support programs that will advance the complete and healthy development of Hispanic children. By finding appropriate solutions, we will be promoting a higher quality of life for all children.”
NLCI also held a public forum that brought together diverse leaders in education and health to discuss the current status of young Latinos and cite best practices for addressing the disparity issues that threaten the future of Latino families and youth. Other activities for the day included a meeting by the Senate Democratic Hispanic Task Force to discuss the state of education of Hispanics and a El Dia de Los Ninos press conference where Hatch, who first authored and maintained the resolution, was honored for his unwavering support of the resolution and its importance in focusing attention on Latino children in the United States.
“Dia de los Ninos is a great opportunity to recognize all of our children as the next generation and to take further strides toward helping them realize their full potential and reach all of their dreams,” Senator Hatch said. “Utahns value the importance of a strong family, and the 10th anniversary of this special day gives us a reason to once again mark the significance of family, education, and community by celebrating this event across the state.”
El Dia de Los Ninos derives from the Mexican holiday that celebrates children, and is observed on April 30. Communities throughout the nation have established commemorative activities as a way of bringing together community, government and business leaders to celebrate children and seek new ways of addressing quality of life issues.
For additional information visit http://www.nlci.org.
NLCI was founded in 1997 as a national non-profit organization; and is the only national Latino organization whose primary focus is Hispanic children birth-18. NLCI’s mission is to focus the nation’s attention on issues and challenges facing young Latinos and to assist communities in finding solutions. NLCI carries out its mission by working with community organizations and national partners. Our history and expertise in working with the Latino community, as well as the staff’s commitment and strong relationships with organizations across the country, makes NLCI ideally suited to create and implement strategies that eliminate barriers to building healthy communities for young Latinos.
SOURCE National Latino Children’s Institute