North Carolina County Experiences Increase in Number of Hispanics Accessing Public Services
The number of Hispanics seeking social services from the Richmond County, N.C., Department of Social Services has tripled since 2007, the Richmond County Daily Journal reports. In March 2007, 167 people applying for social services identified themselves as Hispanic, compared with 228 last year and 459 in 2009. By comparison, the total number of residents who accessed social services in the county grew by about 30%, according to the Daily Journal.
Richmond County Health Director Tommy Jarrell said that the Hispanic population represents about 17% of the total number of health department patients. The Richmond County Health Department does not track whether the patients are U.S. residents. "A lot of these people are uninsured, and don't have Medicaid, so they end up coming to us because they don't have anywhere else to go for prenatal care," Jarrell said.
Richmond County Social Services Income Maintenance Supervisor Barrett Hollimon noted that while social services programs are available only to U.S. residents, U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrant families are eligible for such services. He added that the department has adapted to the increase in immigrants applying for services.
"It has affected the way we operate. We've added interpreters, and moved people into dual roles, so they can also serve as translators," he said, adding, "When we didn't have that, it was a major barrier to providing these services" (Brown, Richmond County Daily Journal, 4/18).