Tag Archives: Outreach

Improving Our Outreach to Hispanic and Latino Parents

Hispanic girls

The United States population is becoming more diverse. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that by 2050, Hispanics and Latinos will constitute 30 percent of the U.S. population, up from 16.3 percent in 2010. We know that the composition of the child support program’s caseload is changing as well. We have more Latino and Hispanic families, as well as families from a range of other ethnic and immigrant groups.

Child support professionals are increasingly aware of our need to conduct outreach to the Hispanic community. We are doing more to tailor our customer service to address the linguistic and cultural barriers to navigating the child support program and accessing other social services. For example, we are offering more bilingual publications and advertising on local radio and TV.

We are forming and enhancing collaborations with community and faith-based organizations and working with practitioners and advocates, who can help us bridge the gap in providing information to Hispanic families about child support services. The organizations can offer accurate information, answer questions, provide advocacy services, and help to overcome parents’ mistrust and misunderstandings about the program.

This spring, an OCSE outreach training event in Florida furthered the child support program’s connections with community organizations (see the July 2011 Child Support Report). While we sometimes assume that community organizations are aware of our latest services, we know from events like the one in Florida the value of meeting face-to-face with representatives from organizations that have daily interaction with Hispanic families. Outreach events such as these serve as a valuable connection to the Hispanic community.

In Sonoma County, CA, the child support office is striving to increase collections among its Latino parents. The office created two postcards in Spanish and is disseminating them throughout the Latino community—with help from community organizations. The postcards explain child support services and help to alleviate apprehensions about connecting with a child support office. (See the postcards on page 4 in the Child Support Report.)

Earlier this month, OCSE was on hand to answer questions at the League of United Latin American Citizens’ annual conference in Cincinnati with more than 20,000 participants. And we are looking forward to an outreach event later this month at the National Council of LaRaza’s annual conference, where a national Latino Family Expo draws more than 200 exhibitors and 40,000 attendees! At both events, OCSE staff members share a booth with Head Start (a great way to demonstrate cross-program collaboration) and demonstrate the OCSE online toolkit on a laptop for passersby.

Recently, HHS announced a new initiative to use Promotores de Salud to strengthen outreach and education on the availability of health services and insurance coverage to underserved Hispanic and Latino communities. The federal work group guiding the initiative represents several HHS offices including the Administration for Children and Families. OCSE will pay close attention as this initiative takes off.

We also plan to stay tuned-in to ways we can further our outreach to the Hispanic and Latino families through multiple channels of communication. Two national surveys conducted in 2010 by the Pew Research Center—the Pew Hispanic Center’s 2010 National Survey of Latinos and the Pew Internet and American Life Project’s Health Tracking Survey—made some very interesting findings. Did you know that 91 percent of Latinos say they get news from network, local, or cable television? Or that nearly half get their news in both English and Spanish? Or that Hispanics are more likely than whites to engage in instant messaging—an outreach opportunity for us?

Is technology helping your agency communicate with Spanish-speaking parents? Do you have a Facebook page that answers questions in Spanish? (Hispanics, like everyone else, use Facebook, says this blog). Do you post blogs that allow readers to submit comments, or use other social media to reach Hispanic and Latino families?

Let us know in your comment on this blog.

OCSE is learning, too. The more knowledge we can gain about our Hispanic parents, the better we’ll be able to reach out and offer responsive services to families.

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Creatively Connecting with Parents and Families

DC outreach van 7Creative Specialist isn’t a job title that most public employees seek out. Nor do government job applications traditionally ask, “How would you improve outreach to clients so that they can understand and use our services more easily?” Yet in the past few years, your state, tribal and local child support agencies and OCSE regional offices have been creatively reaching out in ways that can have lasting, positive effects on the way we connect with our customers.

What exactly is creative outreach? To someone in the District of Columbia Child Support Services Division, it was noticing the mobile medical vans around the city that sparked an initiative to improve the agency’s relationships with parents in low-income communities. From this “a-ha” moment, the staff found a creative use for their incentive match funds; they combined their ideas to get the best results. Take a look at the story on page 1 in the March 2011 Child Support Report.

On a creative roll, the D.C. office also produced a video—using themselves as actors and filmmaker—to help customers feel at ease while they learn about the program in the main-office waiting area, as well as in the new mobile outreach van. The video will be available on D.C.’s website soon. (Read all about it in next month’s Child Support Report.)

Another example of creative outreach comes from OCSE Region VI where Texas and New Mexico staff connected with veterans at Stand Down events (see article on page 9). The D.C. staff volunteered at a recent Stand Down as well. These occasions, created by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, offer a community-wide venue for child support staff to reach out to veterans who are homeless and who might not otherwise visit the child support office, and to help the broader community of veterans understand child support services.

On page 8 in the same newsletter, you’ll see one way new media is improving outreach to customers, as the California child support agency shares its success so far with a mobile phone application. And watch future issues of the Child Support Report to learn about Puerto Rico’s success with placing kiosks in malls and government offices to offer interactive child support services.

Puerto Rico also plans to give brochures to recently incarcerated parents about steps they can take to modify their child support order. We see similar creative outreach methods when tribal programs place placards and brochures in public places to spread the word about child support services. Whenever we distribute brochures and other material, we can take a tip from the online Hispanic Child Support Resource Center: People must see your ad at least seven times before they will acknowledge it. Repetition is key!

And that’s the beauty of the child support program: we may not be able to measure creativity, but as long as we share our customer outreach ideas and practices—again and again and again—we will have the creative advantage to improve our services to customers.

Please consider inspiring others with your comments about these or other creative outreach ideas in this Commissioner’s Voice blog.

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