According to the U.S. Census Bureau, over 25 million people in this country identify as Limited English Proficient. A further 37 million are deaf or Hard of Hearing. We also know that each year nearly 700,000 children are victims of abuse. Inevitably, these realities intersect, resulting in children and their families seeking victim services who are in need of Language Access.
Language Access means ensuring that persons who have limited or no English language proficiency or who are deaf or Hard of Hearing are able to access information, programs, and services at a level equal to English-proficient, hearing individuals.
Children’s Advocacy Centers (CACs) have the opportunity to provide justice and healing to our society’s most vulnerable population. Effective Language Access allows us to do that despite communication barriers. With all the moving parts of a multidisciplinary response, providing Language Access within a CAC setting is inherently complex and goes well beyond simply having a bilingual staff member or identifying a handful of foreign language interpreters. Providing effective Language Access in a CAC setting requires an investment of time, resources, and careful consideration.
A Language Access Plan, detailing all aspects of how a CAC will address language accommodations, is a useful first step for those looking to enhance their ability to meet communication needs. Thinking through all of the steps involved in providing services to child victims and their families will help to identify where Language Access must be considered and how to best provide these accommodations. Cultivating a strong relationship with an interpreting agency and providing regular training for staff and partners also help to create a streamlined process for Language Access, ensuring that victims’ needs are being met.
Fortunately, there is a valuable resource available to CACs looking to develop a Language Access Plan. The National Latino Network offers a free toolkit and template on its website, providing step-by-step support for developing a thorough Language Access Plan:
With careful assessment and planning, CACs can see to it that, regardless of their communication needs, children and families have access to high-quality services.
For more information and/or technical assistance around Language Access, please contact Greg Flett at