Promoting Equitable Access to Language Services for Families of CYSHCN (PEALS)



CYSCHN: Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs

LEP:  Limited English proficiency

PEALS: Promoting Equitable Access to Language Services for Families of CYSHCN


Accessible communication is an umbrella term to describe communication that is clear, direct, easy to understand and that can be made available in multiple formats so that all users have equal access.

Belonging means those involved in our work feel accepted and supported in being who they are.

Belonging requires that we:

  • foster a sense of ownership in shaping the outcome of the work, and
  • create a safe space where people feel comfortable being authentic, imperfect, and ever-changing.

Community health workers: They serve as liaisons between medical and social services and the community.

Cultural responsiveness is the ability to learn from and relate respectfully with people of your own culture as well as those from other cultures.

Culturally and linguistically appropriate services (CLAS) improve the quality of services provided to all individuals, which will ultimately help reduce health disparities and achieve health equity. CLAS is about respect and responsiveness: Respect the whole individual and respond to the individual’s health needs and preferences.

Diversity is seeking and highly valuing different perspectives based on race, ethnicity, class, culture, language, religion, disability, gender, sexual orientation, geographical location, age, and the infinite variety of characteristics that people have in their lives and bring to their work.

Equity actively provides and shares the necessary resources to have fair and just outcomes by understanding, acknowledging, and respecting differences among and within groups of people. These differences are often avoidable, remediable, and the result of structural determinants or policies. Some differences may be inherent or unavoidable but still require intervention to have fair and just outcomes. Equal does not always mean equitable.

Health disparity: refers to a particular type of health difference that is closely linked with social, economic, and/or environmental disadvantage. Health disparities adversely affect groups of people who have systematically experienced greater obstacles to health based on their racial or ethnic group; religion; socioeconomic status; gender; age; mental health; cognitive, sensory, or physical disability; sexual orientation or gender identity; geographic location; or other characteristics historically linked to discrimination or exclusion. (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)

Health equity refers to the “attainment of the highest level of health for all people. Achieving health equity requires valuing everyone equally with focused and ongoing societal efforts to address avoidable inequalities, historical and contemporary injustices, and the elimination of health and health care disparities.” (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)

Healthcare providers: Is define as: a Doctor of Medicine, pediatrician, dentist, chiropractor, clinical psychologist, optometrist, nurse practitioner, nurse-midwife, or clinical social worker who is authorized to practice by the State.

Inclusion creates policies and enables environments in which all involved are:

  • afforded equitable access to benefits, opportunities, and resources
  • carefully heard and considered in decision-making
  • appreciated, respected, and encouraged for their differences and value systems.

Language-access services: means providing Limited English Proficient (LEP) people with reasonable access to the same services as English-speaking individuals.

Limited English Proficiency (LEP): refers to individuals who do not speak English as their primary language and who have a limited ability to read, speak, write, or understand English. These individuals may be entitled to language assistance with respect to a particular type of service, benefit, or encounter.

Medical Interpreters: refers to an individual who helps non-English speakers communicate with doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals. The interpreter must be able to (1) comprehend at least two languages as spoken and written (if the language has a script), (2) speak both of these languages, and (3) choose an expression in the target language that fully conveys and best matches the meaning of the source language.

National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) in Health and Health Care: are a set of 15 action steps that establish a blueprint for health professionals and organizations to provide health care and services that are responsive to diverse cultural health beliefs and practices, preferred languages, health literacy and other communication needs. Additional information can be found at

Plain language is communication your audience can understand the first time they read or hear it. It includes not just words, but also page design to make materials easier to read and make it easier to find information.

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Our Vision

With families at the center of health care, all children and youth reach their full potential and health disparities are eliminated.

Our Mission

Family Voices is a national organization and grassroots network of families and friends of children and youth with special health care needs and disabilities that promotes partnership with families—including those of cultural, linguistic and geographic diversity—in order to improve health care services and policies for children.

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