The Latino Youth and Family Empowerment Project – I

Based on Research Conducted at OSLC

A collaboration between Centro LatinoAmericano and the OSLC Latino Research Team to address gaps in prevention science and intervention services in the local Latino community.

Project Overview

The Latino population is the fastest growing ethnic subgroup in the U.S. While epidemiological data support that Latino youth are at no greater risk for substance use than the general youth population, some data indicate that they might be at greater risk for the co-morbid effects and consequences of substance use (e.g., school failure, incarceration, poor health). Prevention efforts have identified a number of within-group contextual factors involved in the etiology of substance use among Latino youth including family socioeconomic status, nativity status, acculturation processes, acculturation stress, and structural barriers. Theoretical models suggest that such contextual factors exert their effects on youngsters indirectly, by impacting more proximal variables. Parenting practices have been conceptualized as the most proximal influence in child adjustment. While parenting training interventions have demonstrated efficacy in reducing substance use and its antecedents, these approaches have not been developed or evaluated within culturally specific contexts.

This study was a product of an ongoing collaboration between the OSLC Latino Research Team and Centro LatinoAmericano (the largest social services agency for Latino families in the local area) to address significant gaps in prevention science and intervention services to evaluate and address the needs of Latino families with youngsters at risk for substance use and related problems. Our project was based on a community empowerment model and involves active collaboration and partnership in addressing project goals. The aims of the project were to (1) develop a culturally specific parent training intervention for Latino families with youngsters at risk for substance use and related problems, (2) evaluate implementation feasibility and initial efficacy of the intervention in a pilot study, (3) develop and refine measurement methods for assessing Latino individual family processes, and (4) test an integrative theoretical model that hypothesizes how social and acculturation contexts, family stress processes, and parenting practices are linked to predict Latino youngster adjustment.

Funder: National Institute on Drug Abuse

Principal Investigator

Charles Martinez Jr., Ph.D.

Senior Fellow Scientist
Oregon Social Learning Center

Primary Research and Clinical Interests

Dr. Charles R. Martinez, Jr. is a clinical psychologist, professor, and department head in the Department of Educational Methodology, Policy, and Leadership at the University of Oregon, where he also directs the Center for Equity Promotion. He served as the University of Oregon Vice President for Institutional Equity and Diversity from 2005 to 2011, and also served as a senior scientist at the non-profit Oregon Social Learning Center where he founded and directed the center’s Latino Research Team beginning in 1999. He has served as a publicly elected member of the Eugene, District 4J School Board and is currently serving as a Governor appointed member of the Oregon State Board of Education representing Oregon’s 4th congressional district.

His substantive interests center on identifying factors that promote healthy adjustment for families and children following stressful life events, (e.g. changes in family structure, socioeconomic status, physical and/or emotional health, acculturation, and immigration status), taking into consideration the cultural contexts in which families operate. He has led numerous NIH and internationally funded research projects designed to examine risk and protective factors involved in linking acculturation to education and behavioral health outcomes for Latino children and families and to develop and test culturally specific interventions for at-risk families in the U.S. and in Latin America. His main areas of published work include substantive and methodological topics related to cultural issues in prevention science, Latino education and behavioral health disparities, links between acculturation and discrimination on substance use and academic failure prevention, culturally specific family based interventions, the role of biosocial stress markers on family outcomes, and family process. He is a nationally known consultant on organizational diversity issues, cross-cultural research, and community engagement.  He teaches courses in equity, multicultural education, leading for diversity, prevention science, and Latino family health and education. Dr. Martinez has received numerous national, state, and local awards for his work, including the “Community, Culture, and Prevention Science Award” and the “International Collaborative Prevention Research Award” from the Society for Prevention Research.