Pa’lante! Improving the Lives of Philadelphia’s Hispanic Children – Mar 15, 2024



As the number of Hispanic Philadelphians continue to grow, the city benefits from their contributions to business, politics, and economic development; food, art, and music; and their passion to give their children a better life.

However, for too many children in our country, the American Dream is beyond their grasp for reasons beyond their control. We must change that.

Children First’s new report, Pa’lante – It’s Time to Move Forward: Improving the Lives of Philadelphia’s Hispanic Children, is the first comprehensive look at how Hispanic children and teens in the city are doing. (It’s available in English and Spanish.)

In some areas, Philadelphia’s Hispanic children are doing well, despite structural inequities and hostilities associated with race, culture, or immigration status. Hispanic kids have low infant mortality rates, are rarely the perpetrators or victims in gun violence, and are generally not involved in the child welfare system. And the share of Hispanic children in poverty dropped 58% in 2015 to 44% today.   

But in areas important to long-term success, Hispanic kids in Philadelphia are not doing well: 

  • Ten percent are uninsured and are three times as likely to be uninsured as Black or white children.
  • Only one in five are starting kindergarten with appropriate social/emotional skills like self-regulation and the foundational capacity to approach learning.
  • Seven out of every ten are not testing on grade level in math or English.
  • Less than sixty percent graduate high school on time and only a quarter advance to college the following fall.

Fundamentally, the institutions charged with meeting their health care, social service, and educational needs are not doing enough to make it possible for Hispanic children to graduate high school healthy and equipped for a prosperous, self-sufficient life.

The findings in Pa’lante – It’s Time to Move Forward: Improving the Lives of Philadelphia’s Hispanic Children point to an urgent need to give Hispanic parents culturally responsive information to enable them to access youth-serving systems like health care, education enrichment, and social supports.

Our report also specifies what leaders can do to address the problems:

  • Support bilingual child care providers so young children can boost reading and writing in both languages.
  • Build a diverse educator pipeline and hire more Hispanic and bilingual teachers to increase student attendance and performance.
  • Hire more educational outreach staff to support monolingual parents so they can better engage in their child’s education.
  • Connect more Hispanic students to state-of-the-art career-related learning in high school.
  • Ensure all Hispanic children have comprehensive medical insurance – including children without citizenship documentation – and increase children’s access to mental health, dental, and vision care.

The report is titled Pa’lante – It’s Time to Move Forward because Pa’lante is a widely recognized cultural call to action; it means to move forward. This report is our call to action to improve the institutions intended to promote the welfare and education all children and connect with Hispanic parents to enable every Hispanic parents to thrive.  


Juvenile justice advocates including Children First are holding a press conference this week to get lawmakers to pass smart reforms to keep communties safe and support young people.

Do your part by sending an email via our online advocacy campaign.

“Proponents of cybercharter reform are not shaming parents for making personal choices about their child’s education; we are merely pointing out the cybers are grossly overpaid and are not held accountable for their gross underperformance.”

– Priyanka Reyes-Kaura, Children First K-12 Education Policy Director

On the heels of Mayor Parker’s budget address, join us at City Hall to call City Council to make sure the final budget is A Budget for Kids. The day starts with a press conference at 10 AM and then join us on scheduled visits with your councilmembers to be a voice for kids and teens. Register here
High school enrollees in juvenile diversion
programs “met in both group sessions and
individually with counselors who worked
with them to improve their circumstances.
Upon graduation, the charges were dropped
and expunged from their records. Similar
programs have been successfully used in
the past, only to be abandoned when
funding ran out. We cannot arrest our
way out of violence in Philadelphia.

Instead, let’s get smart.”
– Norma Van Dyke from Philadelphia in a
Philadelphia Inquirer Letter to the Editor