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

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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

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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.