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DSS sees greater need for translator

Over the years, the Lincoln County Department of Social Services has faced a greater need for translation services.
Starting this July, the DSS’ translator will start working an extra day every week in order to serve the county.
“Two days I don’t think is enough because Spanish speaking people come here everyday,” said Zoila Lazarus, the translator.
Many of these Spanish speaking people bring their own interpreters with them. Often these interpreters are friends or family.
Sometimes parents hope to use their children to translate, but those working at the DSS make it a point to not let children act as interpreters.
“Children shouldn’t have to talk about adult situations,” said Susan McCracken, DSS director.
Sometimes untrained adult interpreters also have trouble discussing DSS services.
“How do you explain Medicaid to someone if you don’t know what Medicaid is?” asked McCracken.
Lazarus, who also works at the Health Department, has spent years working with government agencies and understands fully the services they can provide.
The DSS only provides emergency services for persons with undocumented citizenship, but many children of undocumented residents are legal American citizens who are eligible for aid.
Sometimes when people seeking information from the DSS bring their own interpreters, they can be misinformed.
Although the number of instances are few, interpreters sometimes falsely translate for personal gain.
“They do take advantage of the people, and they do charge a lot of money,” said Lazarus.
If DSS workers suspect that a translator is making promises they can’t keep or charging unfair prices to their clients, they investigate the problem.
“If there’s a question , we reserve the right to also bring in our own translator,” said McCracken.
Having an available interpreter is required by the law under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on the ground of race, color or national origin by an entity receiving federal financial assistance.
The Lincoln County DSS has had to deal with translating hundreds of languages from all over the world.
“We cannot have an interpreter, of course, who speaks all those languages,” said McCracken.
Instead, the DSS calls an agency in Charlotte that provides the translation over the telephone.
Lazarus has been hired at the DSS for an extra day every week because Spanish speaking people make up the largest percentage of people needing translation. by Sarah Grano

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