Nguyen’s Language Access Bill Also Moves Forward
SACRAMENTO, CA – Assembly Bill 372, authored by Assemblymember Stephanie Nguyen (D-Elk Grove) was approved yesterday, Tuesday, April 19, 2023 on a 7-0 vote by the California State Assembly Committee on Human Services.
AB 372 aims to provide financial security to state-accredited apprentices and pre-apprentices by exempting the income they earn as part of their apprenticeship program, allowing an apprentice or pre-apprentice to maintain eligibility for CalWORKs program assistance.
“Women rock the tool belt just as good as any man,” said Assemblymember Stephanie Nguyen. “AB 372 will help recruit and retain women in the trades by preserving their eligibility to receive CalWORKs assistance including critically important childcare.”
“We applaud Assemblywoman Stephanie Nguyen for fighting so hard alongside the State Building Trades to break down barriers for women seeking careers in the construction trades,” said Andrew Meredith, President of the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California. “AB 372 will do just that by making access to affordable childcare and other programs available to women entering apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs. Thanks to this effort, the next generation of California construction workers will look a lot more like California as a whole. A woman’s place is wherever she wants it to be, including on construction job sites. We will continue working alongside Assemblywoman Nguyen and the Legislative Women’s Caucus to carry this bill to Governor Newsom’s desk,” added Meredith.
Currently, individuals entering a pre-apprenticeship or apprenticeship program may initially qualify for the CalWORKs program. However, they become ineligible as pre-determined increases to their wages take effect. Data shows that the first six months after a family transitions off public assistance is the most vulnerable time for children.
Another piece of Legislation, Assembly Bill 1084 authored by Assemblymember Stephanie Nguyen was also approved yesterday, Tuesday, April 19, 2023 on a 7-0 vote by the California State Assembly Committee on Human Services.
AB 1084 would establish the Bilingual Oriented Social Equity Services Grant Program (BOSES) to enhance access to in-language services such as legal aid, healthcare navigation, domestic violence case management, and social service enrollment. Specifically, AB 1084 authorizes the Department of Social Services (DSS) to distribute grant funding to community-based, nonprofit organizations ensuring equity in access to services for those with limited English language proficiency.
“As the former Executive Director of Asian Resources INC, I know first-hand how important translation services are for low-income immigrant communities,” said Assemblymember Stephanie Nguyen. “Too often essential documents are only printed in English, leaving many community based organizations (CBOs) with the task of translating these documents for non-English speaking residents. AB 1084 will go a long way towards ensuring CBOs have the resources necessary to continue providing this critically needed service.”
According to the US Census Bureau, in 2021 almost 44% of California households speak a language other than English, and nearly seven million Californians (17.5%) report speaking English “less than very well.”
The Dymally-Alatorre Bilingual Services Act governs language access standards in California. State agencies are required to have bilingual staff and translated documents when the office services an area where more than 5% of the population speaks a non-English language. However, the quality and extent of language accessibility and cultural competency of government services in California are inadequate for limited English proficiency (LEP) community members. Consequently, millions of Californians are denied essential government services, utilization of healthcare, and safeguards from becoming victims of fraud.
Currently, CBOs around the state provide these essential services to populations that don’t meet the 5% threshold. Unfortunately, CBOs do not have the resources to competitively compensate their bilingual staff. In a recent survey conducted, 27 of the 34 responding organizations answered “no” when asked if they can provide staff with bilingual pay.
“We thank Assemblymember Stephanie Nguyen for her leadership in authoring AB 1084 that would establish the BOSES grant program,” said Faith Lee, Legislative Director at AJSOCAL. “It is an urgent step we must take this year to ensure limited-English proficient Californians are not left behind in the next time of crisis.”
Both AB 372 and AB 1084 will be heard next by the Assembly Committee on Appropriations.
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Assemblymember Stephanie Nguyen represents the Cities of Sacramento and Elk Grove