Hispanic Heritage Month is observed from September 15—October 15 each year and celebrates the histories, cultures, achievements, and contributions of people living in the United States whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. North Carolina’s Latinx population is now greater than one million people according to the 2020 Census; statewide, the Latinx population grew by 40% over the decade, faster than the growth of this population nationwide (23%). In fact, the Hispanic and Latinx community represents one of the fastest growing populations in the US!
At NCCARE360, we celebrate our state’s and our nation’s diverse population, but we know that there are many health inequities that afflict many marginalized communities in NC, including our Latinx neighbors. More than 7,383 (7%) of people referred through NCCARE360 have identified as Hispanic/Latinx and the top five co-occurring needs we see from these referrals are food assistance, individual and family supports that include childcare needs and peer support groups, housing and shelter needs, income support, and utilities assistance. Close to half of all cases (41.9%) since 2019 were resolved and our team works diligently to find solutions that address the other half. However, many organizations and users of NCCARE360 who are sending referrals on behalf of Latinx clients shared concerns, particularly from those who are undocumented, with entering personal information into a system that can be tracked for fear of legal repercussions. We take these concerns very seriously and have put several measures in place to address them.
One way we address these concerns is to support the decision for people to share as much or as little information as they are comfortable sharing, and we take measures to ensure to the best of our capability that they and their information are safe. We adhere to strict inclusion and exclusion criteria for all agencies that request to join our network and will not allow any agencies to join that will harm our communities. Another measure we have are workarounds to connect people to resources outside of our platform when they are not comfortable sharing personal information. This includes bringing in our partners at NC 211 who can connect people to all kinds of services and resources without recording personal information.
To continue addressing health inequities experienced by Latinx communities, NCCARE360 partners with many organizations that provide direct services to Latinx populations in North Carolina. Several of our partner organizations are vendors participating in the Community Health Worker (CHW) Initiative out of NCDHHS where CHWs can use NCCARE360 to refer people in their communities to needed resources. Some of our partners are recipients of our NCCARE360 Health Equity Grants! For example, the North Carolina Justice Center serves as a Network Support Agency (NSA) and addresses immigration and refugee issues. El Centro Hispano also serves as an NSA and strengthens health equity in Latinx communities while CityGate Dream Center, a Community Organization Health Equity grantee, works to create a sense of belonging among Latinx folks in their community.
At the Dream Center, located in Burlington, NC, staff serve about 78% of Latinx communities, distributing food boxes and meals to families needing food assistance. Maria Hernandez, Resource Coordinator at the Dream Center said, “NCCARE360 has helped the Dream Center extend its reach in the community. Our goal has always been to create a sense of belonging in the community. One of the ways we do that is by centering the experiences of the Latinx community. The Latinx community can benefit from NCCARE360 because even if they have not come into our center, it doesn’t mean they can’t access our resources. We have been able to share resources with many Latinx families when they were referred to our center.” NCCARE360 is happy to be working with organizations like CityGate Dream Center to connect our Latinx communities to needed services and resources.
While the nation appoints an entire month to celebrate Hispanic/Latinx heritage, we will continue to celebrate the stories, values, and impacts of our Latinx neighbors all year long and we commit to attentively and thoroughly work with our partners and communities to reduce health inequities for our Latinx neighbors across the state. We hope you will join us!
NCCARE360 is the first statewide network that unites health care and human services organizations with a shared technology that assesses for and identifies unmet social needs, and enables a coordinated, community-oriented, person-centered approach for delivering care in North Carolina. NCCARE360 is the result of a strong public-private partnership between the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) and the Foundation for Health Leadership & Innovation (FHLI). The NCCARE360 implementation team includes United Way of NC, NC 211, Unite Us, and Expound Decision Systems.
For more information about NCCARE360, or any of its partner organizations, please send an email to email@example.com.