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First State Latino Summit focuses on trending needs of a growing community

Delaware Department of Education


In 2015, Latinos represented nine percent of Delaware’s population - over 85,000 people.  That number is expected to steadily increase over the next several years, topping 100,000 by 2020.

This trend – and the needs associated with it – was discussed during Delaware’s 3rd Annual Latino Summit.


One growing need identified by the First State’s Latino community is cultural competency in areas such as healthcare, education and more.

Rosa Colon-Kolacko is on Delaware Hispanic Commission’s Health and Social Services subcommittee, and said she’s heard from undocumented Latino community members in Southern Delaware denied emergency healthcare because of lack of insurance.

That violates a federal requirement all hospitals to treat all individuals in emergency scenarios.

“I think cultural competency has evolved,” Colon-Kolacko said. “But we just want to be treated as humans.”

The Affordable Care Act also mandated Spanish-speaking patients be supplied translators when necessary. But Colon-Kolacko and others say that’s not happening in Delaware.

At the Department of Motor Vehicles, advocates say cultural competency is a work in progress.

Delaware Hispanic Commission co-chair Charito Calvachi-Mateyko said the DMV hired more Spanish speakers to help assist with those coming in for driving privilege cards in January.

“The problem they are having and we are having, too, is that 64% of the people are not passing the written test,” Calvachi-Mateyko said.

Calvachi-Mateyko said while part of the test is in Spanish, there’s still an English section about driving symbols. She said something’s getting lost in translation and hopes to see it resolved.

A draft strategic plan for the state’s English Language Learners (ELL) program was also presented at the summit.

Terry Richard is Education committee chair for the Delaware Hispanic Commission, and also wears multiple hats for the state’s Department of Education.

She said development of the strategic ELL plan began last November as a community led effort to take a comprehensive – and aspirational – look at the state’s ELL program.

The process included members of the state’s three largest ELL groups in Delaware – Latino, Haitian/Creole and Mandarin Chinese.

“We had the guiding coalition members which consisted of various stakeholders and that included parents, community representatives, district subject matter experts, some DOE employees,” Richard said.

Richard stressed this is only a draft plan, and feedback is welcome.

There will be town-hall style meetings held across the state through the end of the year. Additionally, an online survey in English as well as in Spanishwill be available through December.
Officials tentatively aim to release a final plan sometime next March.



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