Racial Equity and Social Justice

Achieve racial equity in County service provision and ensure a workforce reflective of the community we serve.

Goal 4, Objective 4

Develop and establish a language access policy for the County of Sonoma by end of 2021
On Track 50%

Updated: January 2024

Summary of objective implementation status (achievements or progress over last year; significant delays or issues, etc.)

The Office of Equity (OoE) engaged with community members in 2023 to understand their experiences accessing county services in their preferred language and any barriers faced regarding translation and interpretation services.  Ten focus groups were conducted with residents who speak Spanish, Tagalog, Vietnamese, Mixteco, Chatino, Triqui, Mandarin, Cambodian, and Fijian.

Focus groups were held with bilingual County of Sonoma staff as well as Department Heads. 

Initial timelines were pushed back by almost a year while the OoE was securing funding through the American Rescue Plan Act, as well as trying to secure staff capacity to conduct this work. Focus groups did not start until Summer 2023 due to delays in hiring staff and securing consultants to start with community engagement. 

In 2024, workshops will be held with both internal and external stakeholders before finalizing a Language Access Plan and Policy to bring to the Board of Supervisors. A workshop is scheduled at the Board on 3/15/24 and adoption is currently scheduled for 5/14/24.

Key milestone update (include relevant metrics, if applicable)

  • Ten focus groups were conducted in nine languages.
  • A draft Language Access Plan has been provided from consultants.
  • A survey has been created to assess time and cost that internal staff spend on bilingual translation and interpretation activities.
  • Materials for Language Access Plan workshops to share with internal and external stakeholders have been crafted.
  • Data was gathered from the Portrait of Sonoma, Decennial Census, American Community Survey, Migration Policy Institute and county school districts on languages spoken in the county and Limited English Proficiency levels.

Coordination and partnership update

  • Partnerships have been formed with community groups, community leaders of non-English speaking populations, and internal-based partners to leverage their contact with the public, especially in target communities.
  • Currently the Office of Equity does not have any staff capacity to support actual Language Access implementation efforts. It is likely that the Board item culminating in the presentation of the Language Access Plan and Policy will include a request for staff.

Community, equity and climate update

  • This goal and related objectives are focused on community and equity. The public will be engaged both virtually and in person through staff, existing community partnerships built and community-based organizations.
  • The success and effectiveness of the Language Access Plan will be measured by adoption and implementation of the Policy, having required materials provided in needed languages, and having a consistent interpretation and translation policy in place countywide.
  • An equity lens will be applied in the development and implementation of the goals by centering community throughout the process and by including community at all steps. Centering the community is essential at crucial steps of the process and the inclusion of community voices in the decision-making process.
  • Vitally important is to geographically identify partners in all areas so that the engagement and information is disseminated in the broadest manner possible.
  • Where possible, we will ensure that language access is considered in meetings and information sharing, including holding virtual meetings, printing of material, and offering other ways of providing useful information.

Funding narrative (If this objective received Strategic Plan funding in year 1 or year 2, please provide a status of expenditures to date.)

$300,000 received in Year 1 Strategic Plan funding to support all Goal 4 objectives, which includes funds to support translation and stipend costs in the development of the Community Engagement and Language Access Plans.

$300,000 received in Year 2 Strategic Plan funding in February 2023 which will support implementation of the approved language access plan once established, and will be included in the fiscal analysis and proposal presented for the Board’s approval in June, 2024.