An Introduction to Multicultural Services at FCSN
By Susan Ou, Chinese Community Outreach
Summer ends, school starts. As the parent of a child with special needs, you may switch your focus back to your child’s school and supports. What about the parents who have linguistic or cultural barriers? The Federation for Children for Special Needs realizes their challenge and is proud to support them with bilingual staff members that have the capacity to serve families in Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, and Vietnamese. In collaboration with community agencies, we have begun extending support to Arabic and Haitian families as well.
At the Federation, we have staff and volunteers available to answer questions from families of children with special needs about topics such as special education, post-secondary education, special health care needs, and community resources. When a culturally linguistically diverse (CLD) family calls, a bilingual outreach staff member will be the one who replies. We support families in several different ways:
- We offer a base of resources and fundamental information to CLD families in their native language, including, for example, in-person training on “Basic Rights in Special Education” and “Transition”.
- Families are often invited to participate in a language-specific support group. Currently, each staff member hosts or co-hosts at least one support group, most of which run monthly. In these groups, families receive training as well as social / emotional support.
- In many cases, families receive one-on-one assistance as a short-term intervention. Our goal is to empower CLD families to be their child’s best advocate.
At our annual Visions of Community (VOC) Conference, we have special strands of workshops available for those who speak a language other than English. Each one of the topics is selected by our outreach staff, who tailor the sessions to meet their families’ needs. CLD families can also utilize VOC to network with others from their community.
Depending on the community, we use different media (for example: Facebook, Twitter, Wechat, as well as local TV and newspapers) to reach CLD families. We are also proud to announce that, in fall 2017, we will launch a new website with language-specific sections. Each language section has been created by outreach staff.
Beyond CLD families, outreach staff also provide support to professionals who service CLD families. We use “Cultural Broker” model to help professionals understand the culture of each community. If you have any questions about our multicultural services, please give us a call at (617) 236-7210.
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