Breaking Barriers for Latino Children


From our country to our community, we are experiencing demographic changes that will alter how we serve our people and how we relate to each other. It is projected that by 2035, one in three children will be Latino. Currently, 51% of Latino children in Franklin County live in distressed (low-opportunity) neighborhoods. Therefore, we chose to acknowledge these changes by focusing the 2016 Champion of Children Report: Voices of Latino Boys on their experiences here in central Ohio. How we respond to these changes today will determine how many opportunities lie ahead and how successful these boys are tomorrow.

Key challenges noted in the report include:

  • Limited time and resources available to help parents prepare for the future;
  • Language barriers at home and in the community; and
  • Documentation status and the stress that goes with it.

Parents want more for their children than they themselves had. Many are working multiple jobs and long hours to support their family. Ironically, it was the boys that we spoke with that called for more resources and support for their parents. Additionally, the boys described how having positive influences, mentors, would help their peers “make better choices and not go down the wrong path.”

Language barriers present several challenges. Boys noted the difficulty in switching back and forth from one language at home to another at school. We heard about long appointment wait times for translators to become available. Additionally, overcoming the assumption that Spanish is the universal language of Latinos is a barrier for those needing to access their native language.

The fear of deportation can be subtle but powerful, regardless of actual legal status. Latino boys in our community are acutely aware of how delicate this situation could be. Many expressed anxiety over deportation and immigration issues for their family and friends. Estimating a number of immigrants in central Ohio, or even the U.S., without documentation is challenging for several reasons. However, we do know that in 2009, nearly 60% of Latino children in the U.S. lived in families in which at least one parent is an immigrant.

While describing challenges faced by our Latino boys the report simultaneously showcases their resilience and determination. They described great cultural pride and many credit their parents for their achievements. Latinos show strength in social ties to faith, family and friends and leverage each to support one another.

As a community, we can contribute to the future success our Latino boys. These recommendations are your call to action.

  • Create a diverse teacher pipeline to match the demographic pipeline.
  • Promote emotionally and culturally intelligent practices within the classroom.
  • Support dedicated advocates. From guides to help parents better navigate our systems to mentors to provide a positive influence in these boys’ lives.
  • Provide a dedicated place where affordable resources are available for parents and children. For children, the space would a safe place with educational and constructive activities. Resources for parents include job assistance, legal assistance, English classes, etc.

To download a copy of the report, go here


Delilah Lopez is the Director of Champion of Children for United Way of Central Ohio (UWCO). She develops and executes funding strategies to expand public awareness and education around issues impacting children in our community. Through branded events and communication, she engages and mobilizes the community around these critical issues. Throughout her 15-year career, Delilah has successfully demonstrated her ability to educate, mobilize and raise funds that have been invested in strategies to reduce poverty in the community, protect the environment, and fund medical research. Delilah’s UWCO career began in April 2011 as a member of the Corporate Resource Development team. During this time she raised more than $40 million by managing external year-round relationships with current and prospective donors, volunteers and advocates through community engagement, education, and workplace campaigns. She continues to co-lead United Way’s strategy for engaging the central Ohio Latino community. Delilah’s community involvement includes membership in the Women’s Leadership Council (WLC) and E3 Initiative mentor. She also volunteers for and attends events benefiting women’s and children’s issues, animal welfare, and the environment. Delilah attended Bowling Green State University, majoring in Recreation and Tourism, with a focus in Commercial Tourism.  A native of Toledo, Ohio, Delilah has resided in Columbus since 2003.


Know Your Biases: Behavioral Health across Cultures


July is recognized as National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month and provides an opportunity to highlight the critical need to ensure diverse populations receive equitable behavioral health services. There is much improvement to be made in Ohio to reduce pervasive health disparities. Social determinants are crucial contributing factors, but an overall lack of cultural competence in the field is also to blame.

With innovative approaches such as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) aimed at improving access to care, the focus has now shifted to ensuring services are cognizant and respectful of cultural beliefs and practices. This is the foundation of providing culturally competent care. The catalyst for this change was the realization that disparities exist beyond socioeconomic status and are directly linked to racial, ethnic, and cultural background. For example, a child born to an African American woman in Ohio with a PhD is less likely to reach their first birthday than a child born to a Caucasian woman with no high school diploma.

Oftentimes it is assumed that a one size fits all approach is the most impartial; research on implicit bias has disproven this as it relates to health. Providers retain biases that impact their delivery of care resulting in disparate outcomes. In behavioral health, many providers have a higher propensity to diagnose diverse consumers as being schizophrenic or bipolar while their counterparts are thought to have a less severe anxiety disorders. Frequent misdiagnoses are also tied to prevalent over-prescribing tendencies that have afflicted minority communities.

Behavioral health services in Ohio must be tailored to meet the needs of all cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Franklin County continues to see significant growth in immigrant communities, namely the Somali and Bhutanese/Nepalese populations. Similarly, the Latino population is increasing in Northeast Ohio. New Americans face unique challenges related to behavioral health; many suffer disproportionately with trauma related disorders. The rapid diversification of the state underscores the urgency needed to implement practices rooted in cultural competence.

What are some actionable next steps? Conducting cultural audits and other self-assessments of systems and agencies must be the first step to improving the delivery of care to diverse communities. Implementation of the National Enhanced CLAS (Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Service) Standards is also essential as they provide much needed framework. Standards listed under Theme II, Communication and Language Assistance, are federally mandated.

The Multiethnic Advocates for Cultural Competence (MACC) remains committed to providing the support necessary for behavioral health providers, agencies and systems to successfully incorporate best practices. Together with our partners and members across the state, MACC remains steadfast in the fruition of our mission- “Enhance the quality of care in Ohio’s health care system and incorporate culturally competent models of practice into the systems and organizations that provide services to Ohio’s diverse populations”.

Editor’s Note:  We encourage our readers to check out MACC’s upcoming 2016 Statewide Training Conference taking place October 6th and October 7th at the Columbus State Community College’s Center for Workforce Development.  For more information, please click here.

Simone Crawley currently serves as the Executive Director for the Multiethnic Advocates for Cultural Competence, Inc. (MACC). Throughout her career at The Ohio State University, Simone served as a Page in the Ohio House of Representatives. She earned her degree in Political Science. Expanding her public policy background, she served as an aide to Assistant Minority Leader Charleta B. Tavares for three years. During her time at the Ohio Senate, Simone was also elected President of the Ohio Young Black Democrats where she aided in the successful campaigns of several legislative candidates. In January 2015, Simone began working to ensure cultural proficiency and improved health outcomes in Ohio as the Program Coordinator for the Multiethnic Advocates for Cultural Competence, Inc (MACC). She has served as the Executive Director since March 2016.

Brexit and a Weaker Europe

In this photo illustration the European Union and the Union flag sit together on bunting on March 17, 2016 in Knutsford, United Kingdom. The United Kingdom will hold a referendum on June 23, 2016 to decide whether or not to remain a member of the European Union (EU), an economic and political partnership involving 28 European countries which allows members to trade together in a single market and free movement across it's borders for cirtizens.

In this photo illustration the European Union and the Union flag sit together on bunting on March 17, 2016 in Knutsford, United Kingdom.

On June 23, the U.K. held a referendum on whether or not the country would remain a member of the European Union. The next day it was announced that citizens had decided, by a very narrow margin, to leave. Termed the Brexit – or British Exit – the idea of the U.K. leaving the E.U. was not entirely unheard of. The U.K. Independence Party (UKIP) has been talking about divorcing the E.U. as far back as at least 2013, when the party and its leader Nigel Farage began to gain popularity as a counter-establishment party. As tensions, especially those regarding immigration, have begun to rise in recent years UKIP has gained massive amounts of popularity among local populations, leading them to ever more power within the British government. The party is right up with the trend of the rising right wing in Europe and the U.S., with Farage having stated that he supports both Donald Trump and Marine Le Pen in their respective electoral quests. Although it may be concerning for some, the issue with the Brexit is not quite as simple as worrying about the far right being in power. The most pressing issue that faces the U.K., Europe and the world as Britain begins her separation is one of peace and security.

One of the long-feared effects of a Brexit was a dip in economic and financial security. With many countries and individuals just reaching stability after the 2008 economic crisis, the exodus of one of the world’s largest economic centers from an international body like the E.U. caused worry among even the most armchair of economists. This fear seems valid; on the same day that the referendum results were announced, the pound dropped to a staggering $1.33 USD from $1.50 the day before. While economic effects may be seen and felt immediately, there are certainly going to be aftershocks of this decision for a long time to come.

Due to the very nature of the European Union, the Brexit will have reprecussions outside of the economic realm. Member states and citizens of the E.U. enjoy some of the best benefits of any international organization, including free trade, and open borders and residency in any of the 28 member states. Open residency has been a great boon for member states of the E.U., allowing workers to travel where there may be more job openings in their field, students to study in new locales, and even allowing people to just move on a whim. With such ease of access, many have moved from their native countries to the U.K. just as U.K. natives have moved throughout the E.U. themselves. By electing to divorce themselves from the European Union, the U.K. has opted, whether they realize it or not, for much harsher immigration regulations both for those who wish to enter the U.K. and for those who wish to migrate away. In fact, the U.K. may very well have just created the exact situation they were hoping to avoid – large amounts of illegal and undocumented migrants within their borders. Unless they can work out a very generous deal with the remaining E.U. member states, the U.K. may have to deport thousands of European citizens from their country, as well as see thousands of their own citizens forced to return as well.

Not only would such a vast exchange of labour and skill cause economic damages, but it would also hurt relations, both personal and political, between the countries involved in the exchange of residents. For example, if the U.K. is forced to deport 20,000 Portuguese citizens, and 15,000 U.K. citizens are required to move from Portugal back to the U.K., not only will their lives be uprooted and shaken about, but they may also feel a great animosity towards either of the governmental authorities involved. Animosity is not something that Europe requires more of at this time.

Europe is already facing great outside threat by members of terrorist groups such as ISIS, as demonstrated by the November 2015 attacks on Paris. In order for Europe to best confront this threat, it is necessary for governments to be united and strong in the face of their attackers. With the U.K. now stating their intention to leave the E.U., they are opening themselves and the rest of Europe to more attacks. The U.K. has the second largest military in Europe and arguably the most name recognition, causing them to act as a sort of protectorate over the other states. Even if the British military is not what it was at its heyday, it remains apparent that one does not want to cross them, and helps deter those who would wish to wreak havoc amongst the European countries. A now Britain-less Europe will have to face any potential future attacks on its own, and perhaps in an even weaker state if other countries follow in the wake of the U.K.

The U.K. has long been a believer in their own power, independence and separation from the rest of Europe, both physically and mentally. The Brexit, however, is taking all of these historical traits to another level. As can be seen already in exchange rates, the market may be on the verge of another economic freefall as people all over the world hold their breath to see how the global economic superpower will handle the situation. European citizens in the U.K., as well as U.K. citizens on the continent are stuck in limbo, waiting to see if their lives will be uprooted. Even more so, young adults and future generations are being stripped of future experiences, as without the E.U. they will no longer have the opportunity to work, study or reside in 27 other countries. In the most direct, and one of the most undiscussed, effects on peace, the remains of the E.U. are now more open than ever to the threat of terrorist attacks. Without a united front, Europe will be open to threats previously unknown, both domestically in the form of right wing victories, and in foreign affairs, with worries about both terrorist groups and foreign governments.

Gwendolyn Bell is a recent graduate from the Ohio State University with a degree in International Studies (Western European Studies) and French. She is passionate about the study of culture and cultural interactions, and believes that by sharing and discussing cultural practices the world can become a more understanding, peaceful place. During her time at OSU she was a member of the International Affairs Scholars, Collegiate Council on World Affairs, aided research within the Political Science Department and worked with the Columbus Literacy Council. She has studied in both Bolivia and France, which only fueled the fire of her passion for international affairs. Gwendolyn hopes to put these skills and passions to use in the future by working with UNESCO.

Let’s Get Moving on Transit in Ohio

Hundreds of thousands of people who trekked to downtown Cleveland for the spirited Cavaliers NBA Championship celebration were encouraged to use public transit (RTA).  Many did, and the system was quickly overwhelmed.  When the celebration ended, RTA users struggled to get home—lines stretched the length of eight football fields.  Frustrated riders waited hours.

While Cleveland’s RTA is not designed to handle 1.3 million people at once, this problem highlights shortcomings of Ohio’s grossly underfunded public transit systems.  If Cleveland had a fully funded public transportation system, the Cavs victory celebration would have still been a lot to handle.  But, as the RTA Tweeted (@GCRTA) to an upset traveler: “We apologize for your delay.  We know u are upset with us.  We are over capacity & underfunded. We are working with what we have.”  If only it had more to work with.

Ohio is the seventh most populous state with the 14th highest public transit ridership rates, yet we rank 47th in our state’s commitment towards funding public transit.  Public transit represents less than 1 percent of Ohio’s entire transportation budget.  We can and should do much better.

The most recent transit study conducted by the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) concluded that Cleveland needs to enhance its public transit system to the same level as Portland, Oregon.  The rest of Ohio’s mid-sized cities (Columbus included) must expand to be equivalent in size to Cleveland’s current system.  With Ohio choosing to spend only 63 cents per person on public transit per year while neighboring states spend an average of $25 (Michigan) to $97 (Pennsylvania), the necessary public transit expansion is impossible without major increases to the meager resources Ohio currently allocates towards transit from its nearly $6 billion transportation budget.

Although Cleveland’s public transportation system is limited, it is by far Ohio’s largest, responsible for providing roughly half of all transit rides in the state.  Our public transit systems in other Ohio cities, like Columbus, are even more woefully inadequate.  Local officials blamed the lack of transportation options for Columbus’ failure to win the right to host the Republican National Convention  and the Democratic National Convention which went, instead, to Cleveland and Philadelphia, respectively.  Places like the City of Warren in the Mahoning Valley or communities in Lorain County have transit systems that are barely operating on a shoestring budget.  Beavercreek, a city outside of Dayton, actively tried to keep transit riders out of their community altogether.

There is already a $555.3 million gap between the current public transportation budget and what is needed, according to ODOT’s own Transit Needs Study—this gap will grow to $904 million by 2025.  Right now, a third of Ohio’s buses need to be replaced or they will start costing more to maintain.

Why don’t state leaders act on this knowledge?  I don’t know.  But if history tells us anything, they won’t unless we demand it.


Editor’s Note:  Ohio is home to several organizations that advocate for public and alternative transportation who have information readily available for those who are interested.  Such organizations include Transit Columbus, All Aboard Ohio, Policy Matters Ohio, and the Ohio Public Transit Association


Grace Billiter, Intern, Policy Matters Ohio 


Photo from