Community Voices

Latino/a/x Community Providers

In July 2020, DC Health held a virtual listening session with five providers who work at organizations that serve the Latino/a/x community in the DC, Maryland, and Virginia area. Facilitators asked about the state of providing services for the Latino/a/x community, top concerns facing the provision of care for the community, observed strengths of the community, and best strategies for using those strengths.

Concerns

Many challenges in the Latino/a/x community stem from the experiences of immigrants in a country where they are unaware of, unsure of, and fearful about how racism and discrimination can affect what services they can safely access.

  • Language – There is a need for more providers who can speak Spanish and more culturally appropriate translation services.
  • Immigration – Many are afraid to access services, particularly if they are undocumented.
  • Legal literacy and awareness – Many might not know about their rights as patients, immigrants, or domestic violence and sexual assault survivors. They may be afraid to give information to community-based organizations when seeking services.
  • Access to services – Many are not aware of what services are available and how to access them. Too many agencies do not take clients who are undocumented or have requirements such as proof of income that serve as a barrier to services.
  • Mistrust and misinformation.
  • Technology literacy and access to technology.

Strengths

  • Resilience – Many come to the U.S. with very little and take huge risks for the sake of their family. They are willing to work hard and want to understand and take part in their new society.
  • Kindness – Many love to help their community, especially if they find out about a service or opportunity that they know can benefit others. Participants said their clients are often more concerned about staff assisting them than about their own well-being.
  • Community – They have created a solid community and look out for each other.

Opportunities

  • Encourage community members to share information about services with others in the community. Participants said information spreads quickly through word of mouth in the Latino/a/x community.
  • Use community members to continue building the sense of community, to empower others, and explore issues that affect the community.
  • Offer a holistic approach and a one-stop shop for services so that clients don’t have to go to multiple places.
  • Work with schools that serve the Latino/a/x community to share information. Parents often learn about American culture, including language and processes or policies, from their children because they have more direct exposure to the culture.
  • Recognize the importance of the family and involve them. Personalize care to make people feel as if they are family too.
  • Partner with the faith community and other trusted community stakeholders that can help normalize conversations around sex and sexual health in the Latino/a/x community.
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