Health and Family Services Cabinet
Language Access Program Receives National Recognition
FRANKFORT, KY (Jan. 29, 2007) The Language Access Program (LAP) in the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) has been recognized as a national model for providing interpretation and translation services in the health community by the National Health Law Program (NHeLP).
NHeLP sent out surveys to identify the most promising practices in the nation for providing language services in state, county and local health benefit eligibility offices. The organization then conducted site visits to those selected to document their programs.
The nine promising practices chosen are featured in a manual and tool kit, “Providing Language Services in State and Local Health-Related Benefits Offices: Examples from the Field.” The manual was published for use by other language programs nationwide to improve services by implementing these practices. The Commonwealth Fund published the manual and tool kit.
“The Language Access Program is a vital part of the cabinet’s commitment to ensuring meaningful access to our programs for all Kentuckians,” said Cathy Cox, manager of the Equal Employment Opportunity Branch, which houses the Language Access Section. “Through this program, we are minimizing barriers to crucial services and strengthening the quality of the services the cabinet provides.”
The LAP provides interpretation and translation services to limited English proficient CHFS clients, mainly those whose primary language is Spanish. The program is administered under the cabinet’s Limited English Proficiency Language Access Section, established in 2003.
“We’re proud to be a model for other programs nationwide of how to provide quality services to meet the needs of those with limited English proficiency,” said Cox.
The LAP also provides interpretations and translations in up to 160 other languages through qualified community-based partners and Language Line Services, Inc.
“Cabinet staff works diligently every day to make our services available to all Kentuckians, without regard to language barriers,” said Jonathan Copley, acting undersecretary of administrative and fiscal affairs. “To be recognized for our efforts among this elite group of national programs is indeed a high honor for the state and the cabinet.”
All central office staff in the Language Access Section are highly qualified interpreters and translators. In addition to their translation duties, staff members also test and qualify CHFS employees as well as community partners, which consist of organizations and individuals, to become interpreters.
“The cabinet’s language services are critical for Kentuckians who do not speak English fluently,” said J.P. Hamm, executive director of the Office of Human Resource Management. “Our interpreters enable us to help all Kentuckians receive the health and family services they need without unnecessary confusion or delay, and avoid possible tragedy if needs are not fully understood.”
Currently, 20 CHFS staff members and 121 community partners across the state have been qualified as interpreters. More than 30 community partners, staff members and individuals await qualification. These numbers will continue to grow as the cabinet conducts Spanish interpreter assessments across the state in the coming months.
NHeLP chose the cabinet’s program based on its demonstration of excellence in areas including access to dual role bilingual staff; community involvement; language access planning; determining language needs; language services throughout contact with clients; training; data collection; use of contract interpreters; staff training and access to bilingual caseworkers.
To read the full report online, visit the Commonwealth Fund’s Web site at http://www.cmwf.org/.