The Application Process For TANF, Food Stamps, Medicaid, and SCHIP. Availability of Translated Applications

01/01/2003

In an effort to make applications more accessible to immigrants and limited English proficient persons (LEPs), some sites make integrated applications available in languages other than English. Dallas, New York City and Seattle have integrated applications translated into one or more languages whereas Arlington, Raleigh, and Sedalia provideapplications in English only. Of the sites that have translated integrated applications, the number of non-English languages available ranges from one language (Spanish) in Dallas, to seven in Seattle, and nine in New York City (see Exhibit 4-2).

In Dallas, both English and Spanish versions are included in a single application form while translated applications in New York City and Seattle contain only one language per form. The integrated application in New York City is available in Spanish, Russian, Arabic, Chinese, Vietnamese, French, Korean, Yiddish, and Haitian-Creole. In Seattle, the state provides preprinted integrated applications translated into Spanish, Vietnamese, Laotian, Chinese, Cambodian, Russian, and Korean, and forms translated into any other language are available upon the request of local welfare offices (see Chapter 6 for more detail).

In addition to having translated applications, the application forms in Dallas, New York City, and Seattle contain a box which applicants can check if they want to have an interpreter at the eligibility interview, and if so, what language is needed. This "language box" is usually located near the beginning of the application, either on the first or second page. On the integrated application from New York City, there is also a question that asks if applicants prefer to receive notices in Spanish and English, or English only. In Seattle, caseworkers use the information from the language box on the application to note the clients' language preference in the computer system. If the caseworker marks that the applicant needs an interpreter, then all notices will be sent in the specified language unless the applicant states an alternative preference. Several staff in different sites noted that some LEPs may still prefer application forms and other written materialsin English because they are not literate in their first language and can find someone to help them interpret the English form.

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