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Montgomery County Department of Social Services (MCDSS) Resolution Agreement

RESOLUTION AGREEMENT

BETWEEN

U. S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

OFFICE FOR CIVIL RIGHTS, REGION II

AND

MONTGOMERY COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SERVICES

 

I.    Introduction

This Resolution Agreement (Agreement) is entered into by the United States Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS), Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and the Montgomery County Department of Social Services (MCDSS) located in Fonda, New York.  This Agreement resolves a complaint, transaction number 08-79992, filed with OCR on February 28, 2008, by  [COMPLAINANT'S NAME REDACTED] (the complainant), alleging that MCDSS did not provide the complainant with a Spanish interpreter during a home visit.

 A.        Parties to Agreement

1.         United States Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights.

2.         Montgomery County Department of Social Services in Fonda, New York.

 B.        Jurisdiction

MCDSS receives Federal financial assistance from the USDHHS, and is subject to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000d etseq.,  (Title VI) and its implementing regulation, 45 C.F.R. Part 80.  Title VI prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin in any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance. The implementing regulations prohibit both intentional discrimination and policies and practices that appear neutral but have a discriminatory effect.  Policies that have an adverse effect on the ability of national origin minorities to meaningfully access services may also constitute a violation of Title VI.    

 C.        Purpose of Agreement

1.         To resolve these matters expeditiously and without further burden or expense of investigation or litigation, MCDSS agrees to the terms stipulated in this Agreement and affirms its assurance of compliance with all provisions of Title VI and its implementing regulations.  The promises, obligations or other terms and conditions set forth in this Agreement constitute the exchange of valuable consideration between MCDSS and OCR.

2.         This Agreement shall not be construed as an admission or as evidence that MCDSS has not complied with those provisions of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or its implementing regulations that relate to language assistance services provided to persons with limited English proficiency with respect to the allegations in the subject complaint.

II.    Definitions

For the purpose of this Agreement, the terms listed below shall have the following meaning:

A.        Applicant means any person who inquires about or submits an application for public assistance benefits under any MCDSS program or service.

B.        Bilingual/Multilingual Staff means a MCDSS staff member who has demonstrated proficiency in English and at least one other language, and who can interpret accurately, impartially, and effectively to and from such language(s) and English  using any specialized terminology necessary for effective communication, but whose main job responsibilities are other than interpretation. A MCDSS staff member who only has a rudimentary familiarity with a language other than English shall not be considered “Bilingual/Multilingual Staff” under this agreement.

C.        Contractor means any entity that performs work or provides services on behalf of MCDSS under a contractual agreement with reimbursement, which includes monies allocated to MCDSS as Federal financial assistance from HHS.

D.        Frequently-Encountered Language means any language spoken by a significant number or percentage of the population eligible to be served or likely to be directly affected by MCDSS’s programs and services.

E.        Interpreter means a person who has demonstrated proficiency in both spoken English and at least one other language; and who can interpret accurately, impartially, and effectively to and from such language and English using any specialized terminology necessary for effective communication; and who understands interpreter ethics and client confidentiality needs.  A person who has rudimentary familiarity with a language other than English is not to be considered an “interpreter” under this agreement.

F.        Language Assistance means all oral and written language services needed to assist LEP individuals to communicate effectively with MCDSS staff, sub-recipients and contractors to provide LEP individuals with meaningful access to, and an equal opportunity to participate fully in the services, activities, programs or other benefits administered by MCDSS.

G.        Limited-English Proficient (LEP) Individual means an individual who does not speak English as his or her primary language and who has a limited ability to read, write, speak or understand English in a manner that permits him or her to communicate effectively with MCDSS and have meaningful access to and participate fully in the services, activities, programs, or other benefits administered by MCDSS.

H.        Participant means any person who has applied for and is receiving public assistance benefits or services under any MCDSS program or service for which USDHHS funding is received.

I.        Primary Language means the language that an LEP individual identifies as the language that he or she uses to communicate effectively, and is the language that the individual prefers to use to communicate with MCDSS.

J.        Staff Interpreter means a MCDSS staff member whose job is to provide interpretation and translation services.

K.        Sub-recipients means an entity that expends Federal assistance received as a pass-through from MCDSS to carry out a federally-funded program, in which the sub-recipient provides services to and has contact with applicants and participants in the same manner as MCDSS if MCDSS were to administer the program directly, but does not include an individual applicant or participant who is a beneficiary of the program.

L.        Vital Documents shall include, but are not limited to:  applications; consent forms; complaint forms; letters or notices pertaining to eligibility for benefits; letters or notices pertaining to the reduction, denial, or termination of services or  benefits that require a response from the LEP person; written tests that evaluate competency for a particular license, job, or skill for which knowing English is not required; documents that must be provided by law; and notices regarding the  availability of free language assistance services for LEP individuals.

III.    General Provisions

A.              Facilities Covered by Agreement.  The agreement covers MCDSS and all programs and services it administers or provides directly or through sub-recipients or contractors.  This includes, but is not limited to, programs and services such as cash assistance programs, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, food stamps, Medicaid, emergency assistance relief, general relief, fraud prevention, children’s medical security insurance, adoption, children’s day care, foster care, services for welfare recipients and adults, adult protective services, home-based services and Consumer Directed Programs.

 B.             Effective Date and Duration of Agreement.  This Agreement shall become effective on the date it is executed by OCR (Effective Date) and shall remain in effect for eighteen (18) months or until OCR’s written acceptance of the final progress report, whichever date is later.  At such time, the Agreement will terminate, provided MCDSS is in substantial compliance with the Agreement as determined by OCR in its sole judgment upon its review of the Compliance Reports and other relevant information.  Notwithstanding the aforementioned time limitation, MCDSS acknowledges that it will comply with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for so long as it continues to receive Federal financial assistance.

C.             MCDSS’s Continuing Obligation.  Nothing in this Agreement is intended to relieve MCDSS of its obligation to comply with other applicable non-discrimination statutes and their implementing regulations.

D.             Effect on Other Compliance Matters.  The terms of this Agreement do not apply to any other issues, investigations, reviews, or complaints of discrimination that are unrelated to the subject matter of this Agreement and that may be pending before OCR or any other Federal Agency.  Any unrelated compliance matters arising from reviews or investigations will be addressed and resolved separately.  OCR shall review complaints against MCDSS that are received on or after the Effective Date that concern the laws, regulations, issues and subject matter covered by this Agreement.  Nothing in this Agreement shall be construed to limit or restrict OCR’s statutory and regulatory authority to conduct complaint investigations and compliance reviews.

 E.            Prohibition Against Retaliation and Intimidation. MCDSS shall not retaliate, intimidate, threaten, coerce, or discriminate against any person who has filed a complaint, assisted, or participated in any manner in the investigation of matters addressed in this Agreement.

 F.            OCR’s Review of MCDSS’s Compliance with Agreement.  OCR may, at any time, review MCDSS’ compliance with this Agreement. As part of such review, OCR may require MCDSS to provide written reports, permit inspection of offices, interview staff members, and allow OCR to examine and copy documents.  MCDSS agrees to retain records required by OCR to assess its compliance with the Agreement, as described in Section IV.T., and to submit reports to OCR as specified in Section IV.V.

 G.          Failure to Comply with the Terms of Agreement.  If at any time OCR determines that MCDSS has failed to comply with any provision of this Agreement, OCR shall notify MCDSS in writing.  The notice shall include a statement of the basis for OCR’s determination and shall allow MCDSS thirty (30) calendar days to either:  (a) explain in writing the reasons for its actions and describe the remedial actions that have been or shall be taken to achieve compliance with this Agreement; or (b) dispute the accuracy of OCR’s findings.  On notice to MCDSS, OCR may shorten the 30-calendar day period if it determines that a delay would result in irreparable injury to the complainant or to other affected parties.  If MCDSS does not respond to the notice, or if, upon review of MCDSS’s response, OCR determines that MCDSS has not complied with the terms of the Agreement, OCR reserves the right to reopen its investigation of MCDSS’s compliance with Title VI.  OCR may incorporate into its reopened investigation any relevant evidence of noncompliance with this Agreement, and any relevant evidence gathered by OCR prior to the signing of this Agreement.

H.           Non-Waiver Provision.  Failure by OCR to enforce this entire Agreement or any provision thereof with respect to any deadline or any other provision shall not be construed as a waiver of OCR’s right to enforce other deadlines or any other provision of this Agreement.

I.          Entire Agreement.  This Agreement constitutes the entire understanding between MCDSS and OCR in resolution of Transaction Number 08-79992.  Any statement, promise, or agreement not contained herein shall not be enforceable through this Agreement.

J.         Modification of Agreement.  This Agreement may be modified by mutual agreement of the parties in writing. 

K.        Effect of MCDSS Program Changes.  MCDSS reserves the right to change or modify its programs, so long as MCDSS ensures compliance with Title VI and its implementing regulations, and other applicable state and federal laws, and the provisions of this Agreement.  Significant program changes that may affect compliance with this Agreement or any applicable statues and regulations within OCR’s jurisdiction must be reported to OCR promptly.

 L.         Publication or Release of Agreement.  OCR places no restrictions on the publication of the terms of this Agreement.   In addition, OCR may be required to release the Agreement and all related materials to any person upon request consistent with the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. 552, and its implementing regulations, 45 C.F.R. Part 5. 

M.        Authority of Signer.  The individual who signs this document on behalf of MCDSS represents that he or she is authorized to bind MCDSS to this Agreement.

N.        Third Party Rights.  This Agreement can only be enforced by the parties specified in this Agreement, their legal representatives and assigns.  This Agreement shall be unenforceable by third parties and shall not be construed to create third party beneficiary rights.

O.        Severability.  In the event that a court of competent jurisdiction determines that any provision of this Agreement is unenforceable, such provision shall be severed from this Agreement and all other provisions shall remain valid and enforceable; provided, however, that if the severance of any such provision materially alters the rights or obligations of the Parties, they shall, through reasonable, good faith negotiations, agree upon such other amendments hereto as may be necessary to restore the Parties as closely as possible to the relative rights and obligations initially intended by them hereunder. 

P.         Technical Assistance.  OCR agrees to provide appropriate technical assistance to MCDSS regarding compliance with this Agreement, as requested and as reasonably necessary.

IV.    Specific Provisions

A.        Recognition.  MCDSS recognizes that LEP individuals need language assistance services to access and fully participate in programs and activities operated by MCDSS.  Pursuant to MCDSS policy, MCDSS is committed to providing competent language assistance at no cost and in a timely manner to LEP individuals to ensure meaningful access to and an equal opportunity to participate fully in the services, activities, programs or other benefits administered by MCDSS.  This includes ensuring effective communication between MCDSS staff members, contractors, and/or sub-recipients and LEP individuals.

B.        Develop and Implement Policy.  Within sixty (60) calendar days of the Effective Date of this Agreement, MCDSS shall develop written policies and procedures to provide language assistance to LEP individuals pursuant to Section IV.A, of this Agreement, Title VI, and New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Administrative Directive 06-ADM-05 Revised [NYS Administrative Directive].  The NYS Administrative Directive identifies the responsibilities of local social services district staff to ensure access is provided to persons with disabilities and/or LEP who are inquiring about, applying for, or receiving benefits, programs and services from local social services districts. 

OCR shall review the policy and procedures within thirty (30) calendar days of receipt.  The policy and procedures shall not be implemented by MCDSS without the approval of OCR.  Within fifteen (15) calendar days of OCR approval, MCDSS shall disseminate the policy and procedures to MCDSS staff members, contractors, and sub-recipients and publish them in an appropriate MCDSS-wide communication piece. 

C.        Assessment for Determining Linguistic Needs

1.         Determining the Language Needs of the Affected Population.  Within ninety (90) calendar days of the Effective Date of this Agreement, and annually thereafter, MCDSS shall assess the language needs of LEP individuals that are eligible for services and are likely to be directly affected by its programs. Such assessment shall identify the following:

a.         The non-English languages likely to be encountered in MCDSS’ programs.

b.         An estimate of the number of LEP individuals likely to be directly affected by MCDSS’ programs and their languages by reviewing various sources including but not limited to:

i.    Census data;

ii.    Utilization data from LEP individuals’ files;

iii.    School system data;

iv.    Data from state and local governments;

v.    Data from community agencies and organizations; and

vi.    Information from refugee/immigrant serving agencies.

c.         The points of contact within MCDSS’ programs and MCDSS’ contracted programs where language assistance is likely to be needed.

d.         The locations and availability of language assistance resources, and arrangements that must be made to access these resources in a timely manner.  This shall include the number of bilingual/multilingual staff volunteers, staff interpreters, contracted interpreters, community volunteer interpreters and telephonic interpreting services required at each MCDSS office and the resources needed to translate documents, as required.

e.         Existing vital documents and a process for determining which later-created documents are vital documents.

2.         Determining the Language Needs of Each LEP Individual.  Within thirty (30) calendar days of the Effective Date of this Agreement, MCDSS shall develop and implement a system for determining the primary language of each LEP individual at the first point of contact.

a.         In-person Communication.  Upon a staff member’s initial encounter with an LEP individual for whom the staff member cannot personally provide language assistance, the staff member will determine the individual’s primary language utilizing one of the following:

i.     Multi-language identification cards or “I speak” cards;

ii.     Poster-size language list; or

iii.     If the LEP person does not read or recognize any of the languages included in one of the methods described above, MCDSS shall use a telephone interpreting service to identify the individual’s primary language.

Upon identification of the LEP person’s primary language, the MCDSS staff member will refer the individual to the pre-printed statement in the individual’s primary language that reads, “Please wait while I obtain an interpreter.”

b.         Telephone Communication.  When a staff person places or receives a telephone call and cannot determine the language spoken by the person on the line, a telephone interpreter services provider will be contacted to make an assessment of the language spoken by the other party and to assist the other party as necessary.

c.         Documentation.  The primary language of each LEP individual shall be documented in a conspicuous location in the individual’s record to alert staff that language assistance services must be provided.

d.         Coordination between MCDSS Departments. A system or process shall be developed by which information concerning the language assistance needs of applicants and participants are communicated between MCDSS departments and program areas.

D.        Notifying LEP Individuals of the Availability of Free Language Assistance. Within thirty (30) calendar days of the Effective Date of this Agreement, MCDSS shall provide meaningful notice to LEP and community agencies serving LEP individuals in MCDSS’ service area of the right to free language assistance and the process for filing and resolving complaints about such services with MCDSS. Such methods shall include:

1.         Posters and signs translated into frequently-encountered languages prominently displayed in each MCDSS office, in waiting rooms, reception areas, and other initial points of entry;

2.         Brochures or flyers translated into frequently-encountered languages providing notice to community agencies and organizations;

3.         Statements included on application forms and informational material disseminated to the public, including the MCDSS website.

E.        Request for an Interpreter.  If an LEP individual requests an interpreter, one shall be provided.    Under no circumstances shall a staff member deny a request for an interpreter based solely on whether an LEP individual can answer short questions by nodding or through the use of questions to which the answers are simply “yes” or “no.”

F.        Oral Language Services (Interpretation)

1.         Within thirty (30) calendar days of the Effective Date of this Agreement, MCDSS shall provide interpretation, pursuant to Section IV.H., of this Agreement, for LEP individuals who need such assistance to communicate effectively with MCDSS staff, and for all other MCDSS contracted programs and services.  MCDSS may utilize any of the following language assistance resources, to the extent such resources result in effective communication:

a.         Bilingual/multilingual staff;

b.         Staff or contract interpreters;

c.         MCDSS language phone banks staffed with bilingual/multilingual staff;

d.         Interpreters from community organizations;

e.         Telephone interpreter services procured under contract by MCDSS; or

f.          Volunteer interpreter program.

2.         MCDSS shall ensure that, pursuant to Section IV.L, of this Agreement, regardless of the type of language assistance provided, the language assistance provider is competent to interpret or translate.   

3.         Within thirty (30) calendar days of the Effective Date of this Agreement, MCDSS will develop, and ensure that each MCDSS office maintains a list identifying all available language interpreters, telephone language lines, and other services and resources.  For each MCDSS office, the list shall identify all of the following: 

a.        The name and telephone number of every language assistance resource available to the office;

b.        The location of the office to which the interpreter is assigned, if the interpreter is a staff member of MCDSS;

c.        The languages for which each interpreter is qualified;

d.        The hours and days the interpreter or resource is available to provide interpretation or other assistance; and

e.        The procedure by which each interpreter or resource shall be accessed by staff.

    G.    Translation of Written Documents.

1.         Within six (6) months after the Effective Date of this Agreement, MCDSS shall identify and review existing vital documents and shall establish a process for determining which later-created documents are "vital" to the meaningful access of the LEP populations served.  

 2.         Within one (1) year after the Effective Date of this Agreement, MCDSS shall translate existing vital documents into any language spoken by five (5%) percent of the total population eligible to be served or likely to be directly affected or encountered by MCDSS’ programs, or one thousand (1000) persons in that population, whichever is less; later-created vital documents shall be translated into the same languages within a reasonable time of being created, but not to exceed six (6) months of being created.

a.         If there are fewer than fifty (50) persons in a language group that reaches the five (5%) percent trigger, MCDSS may, in lieu of translating the vital documents, elect to provide written notice in the primary language of the LEP language group of the right to receive competent oral translation of the vital documents, free of cost to the LEP individual.

b.        MCDSS shall develop a process for ensuring that correspondence and other documents submitted by an LEP individual in the LEP individual’s primary language are translated without undue delay.

 H.        Timely, Competent Language Assistance.   MCDSS shall ensure that each LEP individual receives competent oral and written language assistance services necessary to ensure meaningful access to MCDSS programs, pursuant to Section IV.A. of this Agreement and Title VI. 

MCDSS may offer to schedule appointments for LEP individuals at specified times in order to minimize waiting times and to ensure the availability of appropriate qualified language interpreters, provided that the use of an appointment facilitates the provision of language assistance and does not impede or delay the individual’s access to benefits and/or services provided by MCDSS.

I.          Language Assistance Resources.  Based on the language needs assessment conducted pursuant to Section IV.C., of this Agreement, MCDSS shall annually determine what resources and arrangements are needed to provide sufficient language assistance services in a timely manner for oral and written communication.  MCDSS shall hire appropriate staff and utilize outside agencies as required to provide necessary services. 

J.         Telephone Communication.  MCDSS shall provide uniform procedures for timely and effective telephone communication between staff members and LEP individuals.

K.        Home-Based Communication.  MCDSS shall provide uniform procedures for timely and effective communication between staff members and LEP individuals during home visits and inspections.

L.         Language Assistance Standards.  MCDSS shall ensure that MCDSS staff interpreters and translators, bilingual/multilingual staff, interpreters from community organizations, and contractors providing language assistance services, including interpretation and translation, are capable of competently performing their duties.  Competency of language assistance service providers may be established by a variety of means including self-attestation of the interpreter after having reviewed the interpreter competency standards listed below.  Whether self-attestation or another means is used to establish competency, MCDSS shall take reasonable steps to ensure that the individuals providing the interpretation and translation are capable of facilitating effective communication between LEP persons and MCDSS in accordance with Section IV.A. of this Agreement. 

Standards for interpreter competency shall include the following:

1.         Communicate in both English and the LEP individual’s primary language accurately and effectively;

2.         Interpret to and from English and the LEP individual’s primary language accurately and impartially;

3.         Possess appropriate knowledge of specialized terms and concepts used frequently in the provision of the MCDSS’ services and programs;

4.         Understand and follow the obligation to maintain confidentiality;

5.         Understand the roles of interpreters and the ethics associated with being an interpreter; and

6.         For those providing written translations, have the ability to translate written documents effectively.

M.       Use of Family or Friends as Interpreters.  The parties recognize that LEP individuals may seek to use family members or friends as interpreters.  Regardless, MCDSS shall not require an LEP individual to utilize family members or friends to provide interpretation or translation services, and must make the LEP individual aware that he or she has the option of MCDSS providing an interpreter free of charge.  In addition:

1.         If an LEP individual, after the offer of free language assistance in his or her primary language, elects to use a family member or friend to provide interpretation, MCDSS shall take reasonable steps to determine whether the individual providing the interpretation is competent to provide this service.  Further, MCDSS shall take reasonable steps to determine whether conflict of interest, confidentiality or other concerns make use of the friend or family member inappropriate.  These concerns are heightened and require the exercise of significant caution, if the LEP individual asks to have a minor provide interpretation.  If the family member or friend is not competent or appropriate under the circumstances, MCDSS shall provide interpreter services in place of or, if appropriate, in addition to the person selected by the LEP individual.

2.         For each LEP individual who declines the offer for MCDSS to provide an interpreter free of charge, MCDSS staff shall document in the LEP individual’s record:

a.         that an offer was made for MCDSS to provide an interpreter free of charge;

b.         that the offer was declined; and

c.         the name of the family member or friend who provided language assistance at the LEP individual’s request, if any.

 3.        MCDSS shall inform an LEP individual who has declined the offer for MCDSS to provide an interpreter free of charge that he or she may reconsider and request an interpreter at any time.

N.        MCDSS Language Assistance Coordinator.   Within thirty (30) calendar days of the Effective Date of this Agreement, MCDSS shall designate a senior staff person to serve as its Language Assistance Coordinator.  The MCDSS Language Assistance Coordinator shall have overall responsibility for coordinating MCDSS’ comprehensive language assistance services and directing compliance with this Agreement, including but not limited to:

1.         Serving as a liaison between MCDSS and USDHHS, and other stakeholders serving LEP individuals who seek to access and fully participate in programs and activities operated by MCDSS; and. 

2.         Performing other duties identified in MCDSS policies and procedures that will be implemented pursuant to Part IV.B. of this Agreement.

O.        Language Assistance Personnel.   Within sixty (60) calendar days of the Effective Date of this Agreement, MCDSS shall identify appropriate personnel at each level of the organization (i.e. division, branches, unit, etc.) who will coordinate language assistance services for their respective levels.  The identified personnel shall have responsibility for directing compliance with Title VI and implementation of this Agreement at their respective levels, including but not limited to:

1.         Distributing to the appropriate MCDSS staff members the policies and   procedures regarding language assistance referenced in Section IV. B of this Agreement, and the list of available language assistance services referenced in Section IV.F. 3. of this Agreement;

2.         Consulting with the MCDSS Language Assistance Coordinator on the development and implementation of staff training pursuant to Section IV. P. of this Agreement;

3.         Collecting MCDSS internal data pursuant to Section IV.U. of this Agreement; and

4.         Performing other duties as identified in MCDSS policies and procedures implemented pursuant to Section IV.B. of this Agreement.

P.         Training.  Within six (6) months of the Effective Date of this Agreement, MCDSS will develop and implement mandatory staff training for all supervisors as well as for staff members who have regular contact with applicants and participants on the MCDSS policies and procedures for communicating with and serving LEP individuals.  The training will specifically address MCDSS’s responsibility to provide interpreter services to LEP individuals during home visits to determine eligibility for services.  Thereafter, training on these policies and procedures shall be conducted annually and at orientation for new employees, or at least within thirty (30) calendar days of employment.  Training may be conducted online and be self-paced with acknowledgement of understanding by the trainees.    

1.         The training program shall be of sufficient content and duration to cover the following:

a.         The importance of effective communication with LEP individuals;

b.         The policy and procedures outlined in this Agreement;  

c.         The method used to assess an individual=s need for interpreter or other language assistance services;                                              

d.         The use of interpreters when staff members receive incoming calls from or make outgoing calls to LEP individuals;

e.         The impact of ethnic and cultural differences on effective communication and the need for sensitivity to diversity issues;

f.          The effective method of using an in-person and telephone interpreter; and

g.         Applicable record-keeping procedures.

2.         MCDSS shall maintain a training registry that records the names and dates of the staff members who have been trained.

Q.        Complaint Procedures.  Within thirty (30) calendar days of the Effective Date of this Agreement, MCDSS will develop and implement uniform procedures for receiving and responding to complaints and concerns from LEP individuals who need language assistance services.  These complaints will be forwarded to the MCDSS Language Assistance Coordinator for review and response to questions and complaints regarding language assistance services.

R.        Notice of Non-Discrimination Policy.  Within thirty (30) calendar days of the Effective Date of this Agreement, MCDSS shall develop and post, in each area in which participants wait for service at each office, a notice of its non-discrimination policy.

S.         MCDSS Sub-Recipients and Contractors.  MCDSS shall ensure that all applicable sub-recipients and contractors are informed of the LEP requirements of Title VI and this Agreement.  MCDSS shall further ensure that the applicable sub-recipients and contractors complete an individualized assessment and implement a written policy corresponding to the requirements herein, including, but not limited to, the provision of language assistance services, training for staff, and complaint procedures.  MCDSS shall provide information to and oversee the applicable sub-recipients and contractors as necessary to monitor compliance with these requirements.

T.         Monitoring.  To ensure effective language assistance and access to services, MCDSS shall develop and implement a program to monitor the provision of language assistance services to LEP individuals and compliance with this Agreement.  As part of the monitoring program, MCDSS may:

1.         Review LEP individuals’ case records to assess whether primary languages are properly recorded in all case records and whether such persons are provided adequate language assistance services;

2.         Review complaints filed by LEP individuals to determine adequacy of language assistance services;

3.         Assess MCDSS staff, and sub-recipients and contractors’ knowledge about MCDSS’ language assistance policies and procedures;

4.         Review the accuracy of the list(s) containing the availability of bilingual staff, interpreters, and other resources;

5.         Request feedback from LEP individuals and advocates;

6.         Review the development and distribution of translated MCDSS documents and posting of signs in public assistance offices;

7.         Assist with the recruitment and assignment of bilingual staff, if applicable;

8.         Analyze the impact of all procedural and policy changes affecting LEP individuals;

9.         Reassess the linguistic needs of the affected population by conducting the Assessment for Determining Linguistic Needs described in Section IV.C.; and

10.        Develop and conduct a self-assessment program to determine whether language assistance services are provided to LEP persons when they visit MCDSS offices or contact an office by telephone.  The self-assessment program shall include:

 a.        Unannounced site visits to a sampling of randomly selected offices to be conducted every six (6) months, beginning within six (6) months of the Effective Date of this Agreement; and

 b.        Requests for public assistance information in languages other than English by testers.

U.        MCDSS Internal Data Collection.  MCDSS shall maintain a centralized record-keeping system that facilitates coordination between MCDSS programs, divisions, branches, and units and assures the ready availability of data regarding the provision of language assistance services to LEP individuals, in which:

1.         MCDSS shall record the primary language spoken by each LEP person in its record keeping system.

2.         MCDSS shall record in each LEP individual’s case file the primary language of the individual, the type of language assistance provided during each encounter, if any, and if a family member or friend of the LEP individual provided interpretation, the name of the family member or friend, pursuant to Section IV. M. of this Agreement.

3.         MCDSS shall identify, in consultation with OCR, any other data needed to ascertain compliance with this Agreement, which may include but is not limited to:

a.         The number of LEP individuals served, by primary language; and

b.         The number and type of language assistance services provided.

V.         Reporting Requirements to OCR

1.    Within sixty (60) calendar days of the Effective Date of this Agreement, MCDSS shall submit written policies and procedures pursuant to Section IV. B. of this Agreement for OCR’s review and approval.

2.     Within ninety (90) calendar days of the Effective Date of this Agreement, MCDSS shall submit to OCR, a preliminary report on the data collected pursuant to Section IV.U. of this Agreement.

3.     Beginning within six (6) months of the Effective Date of this Agreement, MCDSS shall provide to OCR semi-annual progress reports, every six (6) months, concerning its compliance with the terms of this Agreement,

4.     MCDSS, in consultation with OCR, shall determine the content and the form for each report submitted pursuant to this Section.

IV. Signatures 

 

___________________________________________________                  __________

William M. Cranker                                                                                    Date

Commissioner

Montgomery County Department of Social Services, New York

 

___________________________________________________                  __________

Michael R. Carter                                                                                       Date

Regional Manager, Region II

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

Office for Civil Rights