Just last night, the Budget Committee of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved $400,000 to improve citywide translation and interpretation services, based on recommendations made by CAA to increase language access in the City. CAA applauds Supervisors John Avalos, Carmen Chu, David Chiu, Eric Mar, Sophie Maxwell, and Ross Mirkarimi for their support.
By committing this significant amount of funding in next year’s city budget, the Board of Supervisors are affirming their commitment to improving city services and meeting residents’ language needs.
The $400,000 will go towards hiring a team of four full-time translators at the Office of Civic Engagement and Immigrant Affairs (OCEIA) who would provide translation and interpretation assistance to City agencies throughout San Francisco, as well as other improvements to language services at OCEIA. With Mayor Gavin Newsom’s approval, this will create for the first time a centralized translation program in the City and County of San Francisco.
In July 2009, CAA published a report that revealed residents faced serious language barriers when using city services, despite local language access laws being in place. For example, an overwhelming 93% of residents surveyed in the report said they wanted interpretation and translation help when seeking public services. Most startling was that many residents reported language barriers when communicating with the police department, which led to problems in reporting crimes, helping investigations, or when arrested.
By increasing language access, more residents will seek out public services and use them effectively. Language access will also increase the quality of how services are provided to the public.
The budget still needs approval from the Mayor, but the Budget Committee’s passage was an important one in creating concrete solutions for our communities. CAA is glad to share this news with you.