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Department of Human Services NIGHTMARES,

Updated on August 24, 2011

English Speaking; the new minority

I'm sure I will piss off more than a few people with this article but fortunately for me they will have trouble reading it! I will not apologize for my sarcasm as you will see I have good reason.

If you have been following my previous post you will have learned that I have an 18 year old daughter and her 2 year old son living with me. You also know my daughter became pregnant while on birth control. She was not looking to impress her peers or trying to avoid having to get a job. She also never imagined herself being a statistic.

My daughter was a professional cheerleader, attended high school and had a long term boyfriend. She worked at a dinner full time in the summers to help support her cheerleading tuition at the age of 15. She had her baby at 17 and continued to hold down a job for the year and a half. She's not a slacker.

However, we are now a statistic, catapulted into a system that has been foreign to us since it's creation. " The Welfare system. " Unfortunately, we have no idea how to navigate the system. My parents received food stamps when I was 5 years old. My father was in the Military and my mother worked in a factory. They had three children at the time and needed help with groceries. I remember stories of how my parents would feed us kids first and they would eat what was left over. My mother said the easiest way to stretch a meal was to buy hamburger. Looking back, I don't ever remember having steak or any other kind of red meat during that time. My mother's family also helped out with caring for us kids while our parents worked and brought over prepared meals to help my parents. I remember my mom being embarrassed to pull out that little booklet and count out the coupons that resembled monopoly money. I would hear my father and mother talking about the hard times they were going through would only be temporary. My mother promised my father she would have them off of assistance in 6 months. She kept her promise.

Back then ( 1960's), families were proud, proud to provide for themselves, proud of their jobs, their homes and their automobiles, just to name a few. I myself have been proud that even through a divorce, single parenting and illnesses, that I have never borrowed a dime from anyone. Until now.

I no longer receive child support, the economy has hit my business hard and my daughter has recently lost her job. We need help. However, the programs and systems in place have made the task of applying for assistance incredibly difficult for me. I say that because I speak English, plain and simple. The DHS workers must get very confused when they hear me speak, they nod their heads and smile, in broken English they inform me or should I say miss inform me of the application process. They ask me several questions and ask for proof with documents. Their brows furrow in confusion as if perplexed at why I am there. Early on in our quest for medical services the workers were so confused they had listed me as my grandsons mother. They canceled my daughters daycare due to her not seeking child support from her sons father. When in fact we had a court date already scheduled to do just that. When I went to the office to explain to them with all my documents of proof that I was in fact the grandmother, they informed me they had entered the information correctly and it would be rectified on our court date. Needless to say it wasn't. The lawyer and judges were perplexed, they stamped my forms and sent back to DHS. I drove across the state to the office I was required to go to, only to be sent back across the state to another office were they handle the systems confusions. By this time I had missed a good part of my day at work, was hungry,tired and extremely frustrated. I was instructed to take a seat and wait. When I was finally called, yup, you guessed it, the woman I was to speak with spoke broken English. I looked around the room and realized I must be in a dream, a nightmare. The place I have lived in all my 46 years looked familiar, but it certainly didn't sound it. I explained my frustration as slowly as possible and with careful pronunciation. I brought the stamped documents from court and explained the judges instructions. The short woman with dark hair stared back at me with that confused look and turned to her phone and began speaking loudly and what seemed ferociously in a foreign language. As she smiled and nodded reassuringly at me I was hopeful all would be resolved. Wishful thinking! No, she was new, had no idea how to correct the problem, talk about feeling defeated. After several minutes of her trying to suggest a resolution and me straining my ears to pick out a few syllables that were recognizable, I finally stood up and requested an interpreter in my loudest ENGLISH language. It took 4 court dates and an Attorney to have my daughter listed as her son's mother.

Two weeks ago I visited the DHS office to inquire about food stamps, two weeks later, nothing! We were miss informed, again, but thats a story for another Hub.

If you move to America, we speak ENGLISH!


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    • tsmog profile image

      Tim Mitchell 6 years ago from Escondido, CA

      You have my empathy for your plight with 'Our' system. It s*cks! I live in the San Diego area. Spanish and English are pretty much equal here I think. But, I know little.

      Your article is one Great reason why I like HubPages so much. Real life experiences that drive home many issues we face today. I wish I had suggestions for you, but I don't, other than 'take heart' and continue sharing.

      And, thank you for boldly sharing your frustration. It needs to be both heard and listened to.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 6 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Not being bilingual will cut many people out of jobs,and not all fairly, imo.

    • wildove5 profile image

      wildove5 6 years ago from Cumberland, R.I.

      Patty, I am also native american, Eastern Elnu Abenaki Indian, My daughter recently applied for a part-time office position and was told while she had all the criteria and experience she was not bilingual. She should of payed better attention in Spanish class. Thanks for your comments.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 6 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      My Native American ancestors even learned to speak English and French, bought into and started new businesses in New York, Pennsylvania and around the Great Lakes and became successful. Yes, foreigners came to their land and the Indians learned to speak those languages to succeed. However, I feel immigrants to US should learn English to do business here, while we can learn some of their phrases. Human Services people bneed to speak the language of thise they are helping - English in your case!

      Knowing Russian, some Korean, and being able to read French has helped me 1000% in my work; but I cannot grasp Spanish no matter what. My deceased Ukrainian uncle-in-law spoke English as if he were born in USA and he learned it here during WWI. No ESL classes.

      Unfortuantely, many low-income non-English African peoples are given jobs with the Ohio welfare dept. and count as "numbers taken off the welfare rolls." the Somalians of these large mixed groups make it a point to learn English. How about the rest? It would help.

      Bless you in your attempts to help your daughter and her son.

    • slaffery profile image

      slaffery 6 years ago from Kansas, USA

      I am sorry you are having so many problems. I know here in Kansas every year the state budget gets cut and the first program to get hit is always SRS (DHS). What usually ends up happening is the smaller offices end up getting closed then the cases in those office are rerouted to the bigger cities DHS units. This makes you become a number instead of a human being. Hopefully they have given you a caseworker for your daughters case. If not, see if you can find out if you have one. Also with the child support issue, I am glad to hear your daugher is going ahead with the child support. So many young mothers often don't pursue child support because they either want to protect the father or else fear that the father would then get visitation rights. The courts decide the visitation not the DHS office so it goods that she will get the support. She deserves that to help provide for her son. I hope things get better for you.

    • profile image

      lavender3957 6 years ago

      I never had any problems with DHS, but I had problems getting a job. I was not bi-lingual so getting a job here in my community was very hard. I spoke only English, I know am learning Spanish so I can have a chance in this community with many spanish speaking people. My grandson is spanish, and he speaks English as I do.

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 6 years ago from South Carolina

      Am relieved to hear you have finally received help from someone with filling out the appropriate forms and that you were given some food and diapers while the paperwork is being processed.

    • wildove5 profile image

      wildove5 6 years ago from Cumberland, R.I.

      hi happy,

      I spent an hour this morning with a young lady who helped me fill out all the appropriate forms, she also gave me 3 packages of diapers and two bags of food. This time in our lives will be temporary, thank you for your encouraging words.

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 6 years ago from South Carolina

      How awful that you have encountered English language problems on numerous visits to your DHS offices. When DHS workers make mistakes despite having written documentation that contains the correct information it can be difficult to get the information corrected and the language barrier seems to be making it nearly impossible.

      Since you still haven't gotten food stamp assistance I would suggest that you insist on dealing with an English speaking DHS supervisor and if that doesn't work, I would recommend that you call your state governor's office. Most states have a public relations liason who can check into your case.

    • miccimom profile image

      miccimom 6 years ago from U.S.A

      When my parents came to this country years ago, they had to learn to speak English in order to work and survive. And they did. America is a melting pot with different languages, and we should all respect each others languages. But English is the first language in America, or is it. It is not fair for people who do not speak English to avoid, or refuse to speak English as they work and live in this country. They should learn as well. I have come across this many times. I hope everything works out for you!