The LA-based collaborative connects outreach workers, benefits enrollers, attorneys and clinics to reach immigrant families, address their fears, and enroll them in desperately-needed benefits
Even as they struggled to put food on the table and keep a roof over their head, immigrant families avoided the public benefits that served as a lifeline for so many throughout the pandemic. The devastating impact of the last year and a half has pushed many of these families to the brink, and they desperately need access to aid. But the fear created by the prior administration’s now defunct “public charge” rule changes, which threatened to deny legal status to immigrants utilizing Medi-Cal and CalFresh, has cast a long shadow. Even the parents of US citizens who are eligible for all benefits are avoiding enrolling their children for fear of how it may impact their future status.
Now a new collaborative of benefits enrollers, legal services providers, promontores, outreach groups, and community clinics aims to reach these families, address their fears and legal questions, enroll them in CalFresh and Medi-Cal, and screen and connect them to economic benefits programs like cash aid, disability benefits, and tax assistance.
“We know that the impact of working together and leveraging our collective resources and experience is going to have an immense impact,” said Lena Silver, an attorney with Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County. “We’ve all been doing different aspects of this work, but we realize that reaching immigrant families and essential workers—and overcoming fears and misconceptions about accessing government aid—requires a holistic approach.”
The new network, funded by a grant from the California Community Foundation, is called Benefits Access for Immigrants Los Angeles, or BAILA Network. It includes Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County, Maternal and Child Health Access, Hunger Action Los Angeles, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights, St. John’s Well Child & Family Center, Visión y Compromiso, Asian Resources, Inc., Community Clinic Association on Los Angeles County, Northeast Valley Health Corporation, and Venice Family Clinic.
“The organizations coming together as the BAILA Network are trusted by our communities because they have been serving these communities for years,” said Rosemary Veniegas of California Community Foundation. “Together, they will help immigrant families put food on the table, stay housed, and access the healthcare they need.”
As COVID-19 made its way across the nation, it did not exact an equal toll. In Los Angeles, low-income immigrant communities suffered far higher rates of infection, serious illness and death than whiter, wealthier areas. Yet A study conducted by the Urban Institute found that roughly 30% of adults in California immigrant families with low incomes avoided public benefits in 2020. Creating a bridge to these services is critical if we are to begin to address these disparities and ensure that all families have the benefits they need to stay healthy and strong.
Join us for a virtual launch event on Tuesday, November 16 at 10am to learn more.
ZOOM Webinar Link
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