Multicultural Resources

Appendix A - National Origin Discrimination in Health and Human Services

Recipients of any Health & Human Services funds such as MaineCare, Medicare, and grants must comply with HHS regulations and laws.

Recipients include hospitals, doctor’s offices, clinics, Head Start, adoption agencies, fuel assistance, mental health, substance abuse, homeless health clinics, school health clinics, school special education programs. Numerous laws and regulations address requirements for language access in health and human services:

  • Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Applies to all recipients of federal funds)
  • The Hill-Burton Act
  • MaineCare Regulations
  • Medicare Regulations
  • Federal Categorical Grant Programs
  • Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act.
  • Language Access Laws
  • State Civil Rights Laws
  • Malpractice Laws (Absence of informed consent may constitute negligence)
  • Accrediting Agency Regulations

The Bottom Line
HHS Office of Civil Rights (OCR) Resolutions and Compliance Agreements has consistently required these minimally acceptable language access policies:

The recipient of federal HHS funds shall:

  • Offer qualified interpretation and translation services at no cost to limited English proficient (LEP) individuals.
  • Develop written policies for anticipating and identifying the language needs of the population served and the process of obtaining interpreters.
  • Assure these policies are disseminated to the staff.
  • Assure staff have received training regarding the specific Title VI policies and cultural sensitivity.
  • Assure LEP persons understand the provider’s obligation to provide qualified interpreters at no cost to the LEP person by posting conspicuous signs in the current predominant languages of the area served at all points of contact and having staff point to the signs at the first contact with an LEP individual.
  • Ascertain the language needs of LEP individuals at the earliest possible opportunity.
  • Have a system for tracking LEP clients and client needs.
  • Identify a single individual or department that is charged with ensuring the provision of language access services.
  • Publicize the availability of no cost services in non-English community newspapers, radio, and television shows.
  • Provide written notice to clients in their primary languages informing them of their right to receive interpretive services.
  • Translate written materials into the predominant languages of the area served.
  • Have ready access to and provide the services of qualified interpreters or a
  • telephone interpreting service for face-to-face, telephone, and written contact with LEP individuals in a timely manner during hours of operation.
  • Assure interpreters are qualified, i.e. (1) have had their language proficiency assessed in all languages interpreted. (2) have had training in the professional field of interpreting including ethics, confidentiality, and the terminology and concepts of the specific discipline such as mental health, medical, child protective etc...(3) have had their ability to interpret and translate (if written information is given to the client) to and from each language professionally assessed.
  • Strongly discourage the use of untrained family, friends, and staff as interpreters for the obvious reasons of confidentiality and miscommunication of critical concepts and terminology.
  • Assure minors will not be used as interpreters.

OCR regional offices have been mindful that Title VI imposes a duty on providers to furnish linguistically and culturally appropriate services to LEP individuals regardless of the size of the language group to which they may belong.

If you have a question or complaint about any of these services not being provided according to the contractual agreements with the federal government, contact the appropriate offices on the following pages.

Contacts for concerns or complaints about the Refugee Resettlement Program

Please proceed through the proper channels. Send copies of written complaints to all of the following contacts to assure accountability.

Step I

Contact: Sandy Hollett
Refugee and Immigration Services
Catholic Charities of Maine
356 U.S. Route One
Falmouth, Maine 04105
Ph: 781-8550, 781-8560 (Fax)

Step 2

State Refugee Coordinator
Maine Department of Health and Human Services
11 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333-0011
Catherine Yomoah
Ph: 287-5737,
FAX: 287-4052

Step 3

Contact the Federal State Department’s “Reception and Placement” and the Office of Refugee Resettlement services. If you have a complaint about the initial 90 day “Reception and Placement” period in Maine, call and send a written complaint via certified mail directly to:

Elise Kleinwaks, Deputy Director of Refugee Admissions
State Department Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration
2401 E. Street NW Suite L-505, SAI
Washington, DC 20522-0105
Ph: 202-663-1056

If you have a complaint or question about refugee services provided through direct or indirect funds from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement, telephone and send a certified written complaint to:

Eskinder Negash, Director
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Office of Refugee Resettlement
370 L’Enfant Promenade SW, 6th Floor
Washington, DC  20447
Phone:  (202) 401-9246

Mr. Tom Perez, Director
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights
200 Independence Ave. S.W. 5th floor
Washington, DC 20201
Ph: 202-619-0403