LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Today, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on a motion by Supervisor Hilda L. Solis and Chair Janice Hahn to prepare a Countywide Language Access Policy and improve language access in the County. This motion demonstrates our commitment to providing culturally competent County services that are accessible to all residents.
On January 25, 2022, the Board of Supervisors passed a motion, authored by Supervisor Solis, that directed the Office of Immigrant Affairs (OIA) in the Department of Consumer and Business Affairs (DCBA) to develop a Countywide Language Access and Equity Plan. On October 17, 2022, OIA submitted the Strengthening Language Access in County Services Report. As part of its research, OIA conducted a landscape analysis of federal, state, and local language access programs, identifying best and promising practices. OIA engaged over 100 community stakeholders to get their perspectives and feedback on barriers confronting speakers of languages other than English (LOTE) to accessing County services and programs.
Approximately 73% of Los Angeles County’s population are people of color with nearly 50% identifying as Latino, 15% as Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI), 8% as Black, 3% as mixed race, and 1% as Native American. Los Angeles County is also home to a wide array of Indigenous migrants from different parts of Latin America. A map produced by the organization Comunidades Indígenas en liderazgo (CIELO) in 2021, showed that of 11,000 people surveyed, over half speak an Indigenous language – including over 17 different languages from Central and South America.
“Our social safety net is intended to help residents during trying times. However, for many communities of color, our County services are inaccessible due to language barriers,” said Supervisor Solis. “A Language Access Policy will help to ensure that everyone, including those who do not speak English as a primary language, can more easily access resources and programs. It demonstrates our commitment to equity.”
“Our job is to make sure that every single resident of Los Angeles County has the resources they need to thrive. Now we’re making sure that every resident is also able to access and navigate those County resources as seamlessly as possible,” said Chair Hahn. “We’re one of the most diverse counties in the nation and we want to make sure that every resident feels at home here.”
The motion approved today adopts the recommendations in the Strengthening Language Access in County Services Report, directs County public-facing departments to implement the report’s recommendations for which there is existing funding, and asks for the preparation of a Countywide Language Access Policy. It also designates OIA as the coordinating entity for a Countywide Language Access System that would provide technical assistance to County departments on language access, coordinate trainings on language access, and ensure Los Angeles County meets language access standards. The motion also asks for partnerships with community-based organizations to expand County translation and interpretation services capacity.