The American dream is alive and well in Illinois’ rural communities among Latino immigrant families, who demonstrate considerable resilience in the face of multiple challenges, a new study indicates.
Wiley and Raffaelli’s study explored the well-being of immigrant Latino families living in six Central Illinois counties – Champaign, Douglas, Iroquois, Macon, Piatt and Vermilion – that are served by the university’s Child Care Resource Service. Wiley is the director of the service. The current study was part of a larger project that examined Latino parents’ beliefs about child care services.
The research team conducted extensive interviews with 120 immigrant Latino parents, primarily mothers. Most of the study participants had been born in Mexico, had lived in the U.S. an average of 12 years, had limited formal education and spoke little English. All families had at least one child under age 18. More than 46 percent of the families were living in poverty, with annual household incomes of less than $20,000.
Despite myriad challenges, study participants indicated that they were generally satisfied with their lives and emphasized that the better quality of life and financial opportunities available to their families in the U.S. mitigated the hardships that they endured.
“The parents are working to improve the future of their children, and this is a message they convey in so many different ways to their kids,” Raffaelli said. “That is what I’d say is their greatest strength.”