Year of Publication

2005

College

Martin School of Public Policy and Administration

Executive Summary

Over the past 10 years, Hispanics, predominately Mexicans, have become a notable component of immigration in Kentucky. At the same time, the city of Lexington has striven to increase and stimulate community efforts to help and support people in need. Over 2000 non-profit organizations exist in the city and surrounding areas that unite community support to assist people seeking help.

Among non-profit agencies, particularly the United Way of the Bluegrass, there is a perceived idea that people in need and seeking help are overwhelmed with information about available community human and health services. Notwithstanding this perception, a different reality seems to be at work for the Hispanic population. It seems that Hispanics do not know about health and human services they could benefit from. Therefore, the aim of this study is to make non-profit agencies aware of whether or not the information about their services is reaching this population.

This study will investigate whether there exist a lack of awareness among the Hispanic population about readily available community human and health services in the Lexington area. It will also evaluate the factors that could have a relationship with the lack of awareness such as ethnicity, language skills, education and income level, age and willingness to share personal information when requesting a service.

The study population consists of 429 Lexington residents. This population is divided in two samples. A general sample of 399 individuals and a sub sample of 30 individuals who have defined their ethnicity as Hispanic. Telephone interviews were conducted with 399 respondents who reside in Lexington and personal interviews were conducted with 30 members of the Hispanic community using a translated version of the telephone interview. Questions were translated into a colloquial form in order to be understood by the average Spanish speaker.

Multiple regression tests were run in order to estimate which of the defined predictors is statically significant to explain the variability in the level of awareness. The model indicates that ethnicity (Hispanic), age, educational attainment, and language skills have statistically significant impact on the level of awareness. All of them are significant at the 0.05 confidence level. The model succeeds in rejecting the first and second null hypotheses –“There is no relationship between ethnicity and the level awareness about available community health and human services” and “There is no relationship between the education level and language skills and the level of awareness about community health and human services”. In addition, the Hispanic ethnic group is the one with the least level of awareness.

Furthermore, income level as well as willingness to share personal information are not statistically significant predictors of the variability in the level of awareness. The third hypothesis, “willingness to share personal information affects the level of awareness”, is not confirmed by the study: willingness was found to be an inversely related non-statistically significant predictor of level of awareness.

Following the results of the study, recommendations are suggested to non-profit agencies as well as to local authorities in order to increase the level of awareness about community health and human services and in order to reach populations in need. Considering that English language skill is found to have a significant impact on the level of awareness, recommendations to non-profit agencies emphasize the need of efforts on their behalf to face and overcome language barriers. In this sense, agencies should develop new strategies to advertise their services by designing their own web pages in English, Spanish and other foreign languages as well as developing recruitment strategies for bilingual individuals. In addition, it would be a significant step towards success if they advertised their services in the local mass media and the Hispanic press. Participating in the UWBG’s 2-1-1 initiative will also be a useful resource that non profits could benefit from.

On the other hand, the results of this study also suggest that recommendations be made in order to trigger some governmental actions. Regarding language skills, local authorities should increase the number of minority-serving institutions and community-based organizations that receive funding and support to address language barriers among the Hispanic community.

Lastly, as the educational attainment is another significant predictor of the level of awareness, local authorities should increase the percentage of Lexington’s resident with higher education as well as the funding and support to promote educational opportunities (fellowships, internships, scholarships…) for racial and ethnic minority students.

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