Latino Listening Session


On April 29th the Delaware Hispanic Commission in partnership with Latinos Unidos, a United Way of Delaware Hispanic/Latino community initiative, held a “Latino Listening Session”.

Community leaders and service providers participated in this listening session to share their perspective on the unique needs of Delaware’s children and families in the Hispanic and Latino community. 

Essey Workie, Regional Administrator for the Administration for Children & Families (ACF) along with her colleague, Darlene Tart, the Special Initiatives Coordinator, were welcomed by more than 40 members of the Delaware community interested in improving the quality of life for Hispanics and Latinos in Delaware The session served as an opportunity for the ACF to share information about its programs like the Hispanic Initiative, which aims to strengthen engagement with Latino stakeholders in the region, increase representation of non-traditional applicants for grant funding, enhance cultural competence and increase diversity in ACF regional office workforce.

Through the listening session, the ACF sought to explore new partnerships opportunities to partnership and to integrate the community into its Hispanic initiative which includes additional services like early childhood development, financial literacy and asset development, access to health care, emergency preparedness, faith based partnerships, homelessness and responsible fatherhood

Charito Calvachi-Mateyko, one of the co-chairs of the Delaware Hispanic Commission, facilitated the Listening Session.

“In this session, experienced leaders of the community brought perspectives to share with one another that came from years of interacting, serving, caring and learning for and from Latinos.

Their voices were charged with realities that enlightened us all. It was a smaller version of what we aim to do at the Latino Summit. However, at the Summit we will come out with concrete goals for short, medium and long term realizations.”

The Delaware Hispanic Commission (DHC) is planning the 2014 Connecting for a Brighter Future Latino Summit on November 13th in Dover to engage a critical mass of Delaware Hispanic leaders and community members to foster a positive dialogue to create a compelling vision that will translate into action. At the Summit, they will share and identify specific needs, goals and policies that are needed to advance the rights and opportunities of the community. 

The information gathered during a day-long summit will be used to develop a public policy platform to increase economic and educational opportunities, increase civil rights protections and create a pathway to equal treatment under the Delaware law for Hispanic immigrants and citizens. 

For more information about the Delaware Hispanic Commission and the 2014 Latino Summit visit

Latinos Unidos, was formed in 2012 by United Way of Delaware, to serve as a community convener to address needs within the Hispanic/Latinos community.

A strategic planning retreat was held in March of this year to work with multi-sector leaders to define and align our efforts with all Hispanic serving organizations in the state, including the Delaware Hispanic Commission, the Latin American Community Center, La Esperanza and ASPIRA of Delaware.

Community leaders left the retreat with interest in working collectively to impact and ensure academic success for our youth. The leadership team consists of Dr. Rosa Colon-Kolacko (Christiana Care), Tabatha Castro. Esq. (The Castro Firm) and Anabel Pineiro (Dupont). Latinos Unidos is supported by Wanda Lopez, Associate Director, Programs at United Way of Delaware.

“The Latino Listening session created an opportunity for service providers and community members to speak candidly about the opportunities and challenges unique to the Hispanic community in efforts to deepen support of our children and families.

I am confident the dialogue will bear fruit and be reflected in future innovative ideas and partnerships with the ACF to support the well being of Delaware’s children, families and communities.” If you want to join Latinos Unidos or are interested in more information visit or call Wanda Lopez at (302) 573-3761.

You can also use this contact information for any questions about the listening session.

The following is a synopsis from the session based on participant responses:

• What is working with the Latino community?
• Afterschool programs – Latino parents are appreciative of the help given to their children
• Faith-based community – one of the most effective resources in the community
• Proud, committed community this is hard working
• Have a healthcare system in the language of origin
• Head Start program has bi-lingual staff
• What would be the needs that could be addressed and what are the gaps/barriers in services among the Latino/Hispanic community?
• Lack of bi-lingual counselors (mental health)
• Mental health services (education, prevention and general care) not addressed
• Not many Hispanic “professionals”
• Resources are not communicated to the Hispanic community
•Transportation is an issue (especially in Sussex County)
• There is no agency that can help acclimate immigrants
• Language barriers are perceived as “special needs”
• High rate of drop outs and crimes
• Undocumented criminal suspects have no trial rights
• Not all language spoken is Spanish
• Children cannot access some purchase of care services because parents are undocumented
• Undocumented teens are “caught in the middle”
• Many Latino parents don’t understand their rights to education for their children
• Official identification (i.e., Driver’s license) needed for services is inconsistent and/or difficult/impossible to obtain because of status
• Many Latino adults don’t know how to use a computer
• Latinos have a difficult time navigating the government systems
• The element of trust is sometimes hard to build

• What are concrete actions that ACD should take to improve the situation for the Latino/’Hispanic community? Are there some children/family evidence-based programs that aren’t in Delaware?
• Promote bi-lingual professional staffing
• Help build coalition to support human service efforts
• Disseminate networking opportunities
• Help design a program specifically for Latino youth especially in Sussex county
• Address reimbursement rates for preventive health (offered administered by non-professionals)
• Set cultural competence benchmarks
• Utilize youth for translator capabilities
• Provide more Federal funding to support non-profits