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California’s Multilingual Hotline for Help with Hate – Breaking Down Language Barriers to Combat Discrimination

-Editorial

The California Department of Civil Rights launched California vs Hate in May 2023 as a statewide multilingual hotline for residents to report hate crimes and incidents and — most importantly — connect people targeted for hate with culturally competent resources and care coordination services including mental health support, legal aid, financial support and more. 

Residents can report online at any time in 15 languages, or by phone in 200 languages between 9 am – 6 pm Monday through Friday. Confidential services are available for everyone for free, regardless of immigration status, and reports can be made anonymously.

As we near the hotline’s first anniversary, this briefing will provide an overview of how the hotline connects those in need with resources through its system of partner organizations, as well as share metrics around reporting numbers across the state. 

An Ethnic Media Services panel discussed how their agencies have worked with CA vs Hate over the last year, how they view its impact, and what they see as the key challenges now for stopping the spread of toxic hate language and the rise in hate crimes.

Chantel Bermudez, Senior Manager of the CA vs. Hate Resource Line, CA Civil Rights Department said that in response to the alarming rise in hate incidents and hate crimes, California has launched a multifaceted initiative known as California Versus Hate. This initiative has three main goals: to connect individuals with culturally competent resources, to improve hate incidents and hate crime reporting and data, and to enhance prevention and response to acts of hate.

One of the key features of California Versus Hate is its culturally competent services available in over 200 languages. Individuals can report incidents via the online portal at CaVS Hate.org, where reporting is available in 15 languages. Additionally, a hotline number (833) 866-4283 offers services in over 200 languages. Both avenues connect individuals with a statewide network of trauma-informed agents and care coordinators.

While California Versus Hate does not function as a law enforcement reporting hotline, care coordinators can assist individuals who choose to report incidents to law enforcement. These coordinators provide information on available options for the next steps, including civil or criminal legal action, as well as social services support.

Anonymity is an option for reporting, and individuals can choose to share additional information if desired. It’s important to note that identities are kept confidential unless there is a report of child abuse, elder abuse, or imminent violence, or if required by law. Regardless of immigration status, services will be provided to all individuals.

Preliminary reporting data from May 2023 to February 2024 reveals the extent of hate incidents within California. A total of 823 reports have been received, with 79% of counties reporting. Race, ethnicity, and country of origin are the most frequently reported protected statuses, followed by religion, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

A significant portion of individuals who reported incidents accepted care coordination services, with the top five types of services requested being general legal aid, counseling, consumer complaint assistance, community action, social advocacy groups, and landlord-tenant assistance.

The success of California Versus Hate is attributed to collaborative efforts with partners such as 211 LA and their statewide network, the California Department of Social Services, stop the Hate Grantees, the California State Library, and various community-based organizations. These partnerships have been instrumental in providing support and resources to individuals and communities targeted by hate.

James Williams, Jr., Community-Based Organization Manager, CA Civil Rights Department added that the case conference process stands as a cornerstone of the collaborative efforts within California Versus Hate. This weekly meeting brings together a diverse array of stakeholders, including representatives from the California Civil Rights Department, the California Versus Hate team, 211 statewide network agencies, and partnering community-based organizations from across the state. At these conferences, cases reported to the hotline involving incidents of hate, discrimination, or bullying are meticulously discussed.

The primary objective of these case conferences is to facilitate the exchange of information and best practices among attendees, empowering them to navigate the complexities of providing care coordination services effectively. Trained civil rights agents, often referred to as care coordinators, present their cases to the group, seeking additional strategies to better assist clients. The ultimate aim is to either refer the client to other culturally competent resources or recommend closure of the case.

Partners from community-based organizations (CBOs) also play a crucial role in the case conference process. These organizations, spanning various demographics such as race, religion, disability, and gender identity, provide technical assistance and legal expertise during the meetings. By sharing information and asking pertinent questions, they contribute to a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by clients and help devise appropriate solutions.

Furthermore, partner CBOs frequently volunteer to accept cases, providing consultative and culturally competent services to clients. This collaborative approach ensures that there is no wrong door for individuals seeking support, as all agencies work together seamlessly to address their needs.

Given the scale of California, this initiative represents one of the largest efforts of its kind. Its success has garnered attention from other states, serving as a model for similar initiatives nationwide. Moreover, California has been recognized as one of the first states to receive grant funds from the United States Department of Justice’s Jabbar Hire No Hate initiative, underscoring the significance and impact of this groundbreaking work in combating hate and discrimination.

 

 

 

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