Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Fall 2000


Published in Great Plains Research 10 (Fall 2000): 387-407. Copyright © 2000 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Used by permission.


In this paper we provide human service professionals with a foundation for understanding the cultural and programmatic issues necessary for effectively addressing the needs of Latinos within a context of demographic transition and decreases in public support for educational attainment, physical and mental health, and occupational success. A long tradition of deficit thinking has shaped many of the current models employed when addressing the needs of Latinos. The authors suggest "community/culturally centered" or "strengths-based" approaches, such as community based organizations (CBOs), as promising alternatives to current practices. Coalitions among CBOs can be the most effective method in creating and sustaining reform of communitybased services. These coalitions can better serve Latinos by expanding human service providers' cultural awareness and redefining risk and protective factors according to the framework of the Latino communities they serve.