“Celebrating [Hispanic Heritage Month] is important, but the growing size and unattended needs of the Hispanic community can no longer be relegated to four weeks out of the year that generate photos ops and sound bites,” said Luis Torres, Professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. “We are not doubting the sincere intent of the Agency’s leadership, but it has, nonetheless, fallen short of demonstrating any real indication of success or clear effort toward serving Latino needs.”
Exactly a year ago, NAHF leaders provided ACF with budget-neutral recommendations that would have a tangible impact on the Agency’s service to Latino children and families. While highlighting a few anecdotal examples, the Agency has not provided quantifiable information to measure progress across numerous key indicators, including those that ensure a fair and focused allocation of resources to meet the core needs of underserved communities. These indicators include:
* Lack of baseline data from which to measure progress and ensure that organizations that have a history of serving Latino populations have applied and been awarded any of ACF’s $16 Billion in grants.
* No method for capturing the percentage of reviewers or review panels for all of ACF grant programs that were Hispanic during grant reviews in the 2011-2012 cycle, much less for any baseline period.
* No method for capturing increases in, if any, the number and dollars of investments for research specific to Hispanic populations. Again, no information on baseline period or relative comparison data.
* No quantifiable data on how the Hispanic Healthy Marriage and Responsible Fatherhood Initiative is being strengthened, how many dollars are allocated to serve the initiative, how many dollars have been awarded to organizations who have evidence of successfully serving Hispanic populations, or what the baseline is to conclude the program has been “strengthened.”
* There is no clarity about the meaningful changes and improvements in ACF’s policies and investment in Hispanic families that have been generated as a result of the Administration’s commitment to the Latino community.
* No information on how many jobs have been filled in the agency and what percentage of those has been filled with Hispanics. No ability to compare this rate to previous periods.
* No data that reflects the improvements ACF has made to identify and alleviate the impact of restrictive immigration laws on public benefit programs and social services.
* “If an agency touts itself as being evidence-based yet repeatedly fails to report out measures of success on data that should be basic, it begs the question – what information, if any, is actually being collected, measured, and tracked to demonstrate a concerted effort to meet the growing needs of Latino children and families, a community already proven to be grossly underserved,” Torres said. “While it is understood that data doesn’t always tell the complete story, a narrative without metrics and quantifiable measurements is insufficient, especially in a time of growing need amidst economic pressures.”
Download a copy of the recommendations NAHF forwarded to Acting Assistant Secretary George Sheldon last year (October 2011) at visiting www.hispanicfamily.org.