Latin America has experienced major social, economic, and cultural transformations. Poverty and inequality have declined, while public and social spending has increased. Most countries have put in place non-contributory social protection schemes targeting poorer families, assigning the family a central role in providing safeguards against social problems and economic shocks. Thus, understanding the relationship between evolving family structures and the social policies aimed at addressing their needs is critical. In this paper we review the regional context and describe the changing structure of Latin American families in 1990-2010 based on household survey data. We then examine and compare the specificities of poorer and richer households. Finally, we explore access to different forms of social protection among distinct types of families, drawing further questions for policy and research.