Atlanta — Jul 19, 2021
The Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) has partnered with the Latin American Association (LAA) to better serve the needs of metro Atlanta’s older adults and adults with disabilities who speak Spanish.
The LAA, the largest agency in Georgia dedicated to serving the Hispanic population, is working to connect older adults and adults with disabilities with existing community resources that will help them live more independent lives, including meal delivery, transportation to medical appointments, respite care, and access to mental health services.
By working closely with ARC’s Aging & Independence Services Group, the LAA is providing culturally appropriate referrals and information in Spanish to the Latino community, which accounts for 12% of the population in the 10-county metro area. ARC is the federally funded Area Agency on Aging for the 10-county metro region.
“We are very excited to be partnering with the LAA as we strive to better serve the needs of metro Atlanta’s growing Hispanic population,” said Becky Kurtz, managing director of ARC’s Aging & Independence Services. “The LAA is a trusted entity in the Latino community, and they bring us cultural competency and language proficiency. The LAA will help connect the Spanish-speaking population to existing resources that they may not know about.”
The LAA, which serves the metro region out of centers in DeKalb and Gwinnett counties, was awarded a $100,000 grant from ARC over two years. LAA staff have also joined ARC’s Aging and Disability Resource Connection (ADRC) advisory committee.
“The LAA has been serving Latino seniors for over 20 years,” said Santiago Marquez, CEO of the LAA. “We are fortunate to have such great partners as ARC, and to have some funding to help us welcome our seniors back to our building. We look forward to expanding the services offered to Latino seniors.”
For years, the LAA has supported a group for older adults who meet weekly at the LAA’s DeKalb location or via Zoom.
With the ARC funding, the LAA has hired a social worker to serve older adults and adults with disabilities. Cynthia Roman, managing director of Family Stabilization and Well-Being at the LAA, says that this is long overdue.
“This type of funding is hard to access. The partnership with ARC will go a long way to help this highly vulnerable population get the services and support they need to thrive. We have the expertise and we are equipped to serve this community,” Roman explained.
Kurtz said that the number of Spanish-speaking clients that Aging & Independence Services currently serves, compared to the population, is very low. This partnership will allow ARC to expand its reach among Hispanic residents and serve their needs.
“We felt like that was a gap for us,” said Kurtz. “We’ve made it a priority to have Spanish-speaking staff, but that still wasn’t enough to serve the needs of this population.”
Providing information and resources and approaching service delivery with cultural competence is more user-friendly for individuals, helps build trust within the service network, and speaks to cultural differences that sometimes present as a barrier to accessing much-needed services.
By partnering with trusted organizations that have direct contact with populations that are hard to reach, ARC expects that more people become aware of community resources available for older adults, adults with disabilities, and their caregivers.
ARC’s Aging & Independence Services Group has had a similar partnership for years with the Center for Pan Asian Community Services (CPACS) to reach out to the Asian populations in the metro region. CPACS acts as an extension of ARC’s Empowerline, providing culturally appropriate information on programs, eligibility, and other resources for older adults and people with disabilities to improve access to services.
The LAA partnership is modeled after the CPACS partnership.
“We’ve had a very symbiotic relationship with CPACS over the past three years,” says Kurtz. “Our staff is now more sensitized to issues in the pan-Asian community, and CPACS has a better understanding of what we do.”
Kurtz expects ARC’s relationship with the LAA to be mutually beneficial to both organizations.
The Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) is the official planning agency for the 11-county Atlanta Region, including Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Forsyth, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry and Rockdale counties as well as the City of Atlanta and 74 other cities. The Atlanta Regional Commission serves as a catalyst for regional progress by focusing leadership, attention, and planning resources on key regional issues.
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