The Application Process For TANF, Food Stamps, Medicaid, and SCHIP. Reliance on LEP Applicant Family/Friend Networks


Another common means of providing language services is to rely on friends and family of the limited English-speaking applicant to interpret for them. In each of our sites, except Seattle, the use of family and friends as interpreters is a common practice — especially for speakers of less common languages. Limited English speaking applicants often rely on family members or friends who are more English proficient, but may still have trouble interpreting the technically rich vocabulary of public agencies. Eligibility workers routinely commented that use of family members and friends as interpreters calls into question the accuracy of the information provided. Workers also noted that using family and friends as interpreters often increases the length of the interview because of the extra time required to communicate complex eligibility questions. However, when agencies are not equipped to provide interpretation services for non-English speakers, particularly for those speaking less frequently encountered languages, public agencies leave applicants little recourse but to turn to friends and family for interpretation assistance.

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