Child Care Answers has a rich history of serving our community through resources and support in Spanish. Our bilingual program engagement specialist, Lucy Intriago, a native of Ecuador, has been a go-to partner for Spanish-speaking child care programs and their families for years. Our newest team member, Megan Day, has jumped in with both feet to build connections with Spanish-speaking families. Her favorite part of speaking Spanish is that it opens doors. “Families feel comfortable speaking in their native language, and I can help them on a personalized level,” Megan says. “We can help more people when we speak their language. We can be a bridge in a system that is foreign and challenging to navigate.”
CCA is proud of our relationships with Spanish-speakers, but serving just English- and Spanish-speaking communities is not enough. All families, regardless of country of origin, deserve help finding and paying for child care and support with parenting. Any child care professional, regardless of preferred language, deserves easy access to information to help them better serve our children.
Digital opportunites to access preferred language
In an effort to broaden our support in more languages, the first step we took was to enable a Google Translate plug-in on our new website. As of this summer, users can now access all web pages in 20 different languages. We also took a closer look at the emails that we send to families after they request child care support. By simplifying the language and creating links to our translated website, families now receive information they can more easily understand. These simplified emails create an opportunity for easier translation into new languages as well.
Leveraging partnerships for one-on-one support
We have the great privilege of being a bridge for many families to Brighter Futures, whose partnership with Luna Language Services provides real-time phone interpreting to families who do not speak English. Child Care Answers uses this service often, and families have benefited greatly from access to supports in their native language. One Tigrinya-speaking mother said, “You sent me the information in Tigrinya. I appreciate what you are doing. I cannot thank you enough for all that you do. Even my daughter was whispering to me how kind you are. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. We are sisters now. You are my sister.”
Language access is crucial. We want deeply to help all families and child care professionals, and a language barrier can make that challenging. Staff use English as a Second Language (ESL) techniques to connect with those who do not speak English or Spanish. We also use online translation services to text families in their first language, allowing us to quickly clarify specifics as needed.
Building relationships through gracious volunteers
We are so grateful to have volunteers to translate our most-used resources into various languages. So far, volunteers have translated into Arabic, dialects of Burmese, Swahili, and Yoruba; and more is coming!
One volunteer translator, Paul Ntinda, works at Indiana University in the Department of African Studies. He volunteers every Sunday providing interpreting services at his church and graciously offered his time to translate Swahili for us. His favorite part of being multi-lingual is connecting with and touching people’s lives. In his view, even just speaking a few words, like a greeting, can make a big difference. Paul encourages all to learn a language, saying, “Anyone can learn any language. It is just the matter of readiness and choice.”
Another volunteer translator, Seliat Yekinni-Elebute, works as a family liaison for Avon Community Schools. Through her work, she helps teachers and staff understand the culture of Nigerian families and how to best communicate with them. She also educates on resources available to families as they adjust to their new environment. “It brings great joy to me to be part of helping to solve the problems of communication that hinder getting the much needed help, service, and education that either party may seek,” Seliat says. If an environment is not welcoming, it is difficult for immigrants to reach their full potential. “People should look at all humans as unique beings who have great potential, capable of achieving greatness and also contribut[ing] to their community…and the world at large no matter where they come from,” she says.
Special thanks to Dr. Jeff Holdeman, Dr. Alwiya Omar, Dr. Michelle Olson, Twalha Abbass, Kevin Reidy, Bob Hoffmann and his students at Southport High School, Laura Demsey, Hanako Gavia, Bukola Akinbola, and Destin Lee Hubble. Your generous problem-solving assistance, help finding translators, and/or providing translation services nourished our success!
How you can connect
Could you or someone you know benefit from our services in a language other than English? Connect with us today through either our form for families (in English and Spanish) or child care programs (also in English and Spanish).
Or, are you willing to translate for us? We are especially looking for those who speak Tigrinya, Amharic, or Igbo. Let us know via our community information form.