Promise offers parents hope that things can get better
By INCLUDEnyc's Alfonso Guzman

Many families in NYC struggle to identify and connect with supports for their children with disabilities. This is especially the case for non-English speaking families. Since the IEP is only available in English, Spanish-speaking families have tremendous difficulty understanding this basic legal document, let alone its content. The lack of information in their primary language is a barrier to involvement. Recruitment sessions allow us to gain a deeper understanding of some of the challenges Spanish-speaking families face. We hear countless stories of translation and interpretation requests that are often ignored, dismissed, or inadequate; not to forget the countless meetings held without them.

Promise offers parents hope that things can get better. Families express feeling relieved that they now have someone they can communicate with in their own language. Having grown up in a Spanish-speaking household, I’ve experienced the frustrations and isolation that come with a language barrier, often exacerbated by feelings of helplessness that no one can represent your interests.

Though I enjoy working with all families, helping Spanish-speaking families to feel understood, and getting them connected, reminds me of what I wish my family had, and thus brings me the greatest joy.

As one tearful parent told me this past Monday:

"Este programa es una bendicion. Perdi mi trabajo y perdi a mi sobrino en un assesinato. Me siento a afortunada de saber que por lo menos los tengo a ustedes."

("This project is a blessing. I lost my job and I lost my nephew to a murder. I feel fortunate knowing that I at least have you all for support.")