"Formal Invitation Letters for Inaugural Ceremony - DOC"
Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration INVITATION TO DECEMBER 11 LEADERSHIP SUMMIT................................................... 3 CONTINENTAL AFRICAN COMMUNITY: ENLIGHTENED ENGAGEMENT .............. 7 METHODS WE USED TO INVOLVE PEOPLE .................................................................................... 7 BACKGROUND STATISTICS ON HERITAGE ...................................................................... 8 AFRICAN UNION MISSION TO THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA ........................... 9 PRESS RELEASE AFRICAN UNION AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA .... 9 MAKING MONTGOMERY COUNTY OUR HOME OF CHOICE .................................... 10 ENDURING VALUES: EDUCATIONAL BRILLIANCE & SELF-RELIANT RESILIENCE .............................................................................................................................. 13 EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT ...................................................................................................... 13 SELF-RELIANT RESILIENCE ........................................................................................................ 14 NEEDS ASSESSMENTS AND METHODOLOGY ................................................................ 15 RESPONSIVE AND ACCOUNTABLE COUNTY GOVERNMENT ................................... 17 A. BROADENING THE TABLE OF DIVERSITY. ............................................................................. 17 B: ENLIGHTENED SELF-INTERESTS AND CIVIC ENGAGEMENT ................................................ 20 C: OFFICIAL LIAISON FOR CONTINENTAL AFRICAN AFFAIRS ................................................. 23 D. GLOBAL SOCIETY: PLURALISM AND INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS .................................... 25 AFFORDABLE HOUSING IN AN INCLUSIVE COMMUNITY ......................................... 31 CLOSING THE AFFORDABILITY GAP .......................................................................................... 31 AN EFFECTIVE AND EFFICIENT TRANSPORTATION NETWORK ............................ 35 HEALTHY AND SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES ............................................................. 37 HEALTH CARE SERVICES IN THE CONTINENTAL AFRICAN COMMUNITY ............................... 37 CHILDREN PREPARED TO LIVE AND LEARN ................................................................. 44 1 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration WHAT HAPPENS IN SCHOOL ....................................................................................................... 44 THE VALUED-ADDED CUTTING EDGE EDUCATION ................................................................... 49 WHAT HAPPENS BEFORE AND AFTER SCHOOL ......................................................................... 51 STRONG AND VIBRANT ECONOMY ................................................................................... 56 BUSINESS AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ................................................................................ 56 SAFE STREETS AND SECURE NEIGHBORHOODS .......................................................... 60 POLICE RELATIONS ..................................................................................................................... 60 VITAL LIVING FOR ALL OF OUR RESIDENTS ................................................................ 62 1. IMMIGRATION AND INTEGRATION .......................................................................................... 62 2. VULNERABLE POPULATIONS: THE ELDERLY AND VICTIM OF TRAFFICKING ..................... 65 3. ARRESTING DOMESTIC ABUSE & VIOLENCE ......................................................................... 66 4. CONTINENTAL AFRICAN CULTURAL AND COMMUNITY SERVICE CENTER .......................... 71 5. POTTER’S VESSELS: FAITH-BASED INSTITUTIONS - PARTNERS IN VITAL LIVING.............. 75 CONTACT INFORMATION .................................................................................................... 76 2 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration Invitation to December 11 Leadership Summit You are cordially invited to attend THE AFRICAN AMERICAN/AFRICAN/CARIBBEAN LEADERSHIP SUMMIT by Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett Office of Community Partnerships African American Advisory Group to the County Executive African/Caribbean Work Group Continental African Community Partnership Forum Tuesday, December 11, 2007 6:00 – 8:30 p.m. Executive Office Building, Terrace Level 101 Monroe Street Rockville, Maryland 20850 The December 11 Summit will be the venue for Community Leaders to spend two hours with 50 top officials of the Leggett administration discussing proactive ways for the County to better serve our communities and for the residents to collaborate with the County government in its mission. The dialogue will be all the more substantive if there is a large turnout on the part of the communities. We urge you to attend. 3 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration This material is cannot be reproduced or copied without authorization and proper acknowledgements. Building Equity Through Equal Access and Opportunity To Invest In Montgomery County’s Future Continental African Community Needs Assessment Prepared By Continental African Community Partnership Forum Presented To The Honorable Isiah Leggett, Montgomery County Executive At The African American; Caribbean; Continental African Summit December 11, 2007 Full Presentations on February 13, 2008 4 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration December 4, 2007 The Honorable Isiah Leggett County Executive 101 Monroe Street Rockville, Maryland 20850 Dear Mr. Leggett: Please find the Continental African Community Needs Assessment Report. The results of two years of assiduous outreach and documented findings, this report aims to discover, develop, and disseminate knowledge in order to enhance understanding of the ideals as well as the challenges in the Continental African Community in Montgomery County. To these ends, multidisciplinary teams of Continental Africans and groups identified issues that are most important to our community and recommendations that are critical to effective solutions. As an emerging and fast growing community presenting the first needs assessment to the Montgomery County Government, we went the extra mile to introduce who we are as stakeholders in all facets of Montgomery County’s development and highlighted our competitive values and standards that contribute to the realization of the full potentials of our embracing and cherished County. Today, in our increasingly global economy fueled by instant communication, geography is no longer a barrier to international partnerships. We welcome the opportunity to increase international trade and cultural exchanges between our County and Africa. The Continental African Community needs assessment is aligned with your administration’s eight policy objectives. The recommendations are not necessarily time- line demands; they offer mutual chances to improve the quality of life in the Continental African Community, which can be greatly enhanced through functional and sustained dialogues between the government and its people, with reasonable expectations that adjustments are incidental in on-going developments. In the final analysis, the issues and presentations are oriented to provide you, the head of departments and senior staff with the data and qualitative basis to make informed decisions in regards to closing gap in services in the Continental African Community. The impact objective is to ensure equitable access and opportunity for Continental Africans as valued and conscientious members of, and investors in, our diversified County. Evelyn Joe On behalf of the Continental African Partnership Forum CC: Continental African Community Organizations African Embassies and the African Union Mission in the United States 5 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration Continental African Community, Montgomery County An Emerging Community Two Years of Needs Assessments: With 700plus participants Compilation and Narration by Evelyn Joe Continental African Community Partnership Forum Surveys contributions by African Peoples Action Committee, Chuks Eleonu Trans-nationalism and Integration: Courtesy documentations, Professor Sulayman Nyang; Dr. Diana Baird N’diaye, Smithsonian Institute – African Folkife Project Business Development: Dr. Sidi Jameh; Joan Awung; Philip Njowusi; Chris Leintu; Dan Eke; Jardo Muekalia; Dr. Lawrence Bland; Citations from African Business Directory Immigration and Integration: Joshua Moses Esq, Chief Alex Taku, Fishing Pole Organization, citations from African Immigrant and Refugee Foundation; Metropolitan Development Corporation; La Casa of Maryland Faith-based Key Informants: Dr. (Bishop) Kapepula, Bishop Darlington Johnson, Dr. (Pastor) Toby Awasum; Pastor Randolph Roberts; Reverend Kennedy Police Relations - Julius Oben Housing – Justine Mbianda Youth Education and Development Remi Aluko, participant, Smithsonian Institute African Folk life Emma, Sharon and Avis - Support2Girls and No Child Left Behind Community Education – Dr. Sam Amaoako Atta; Prof. Mobolaji Aluko; Robert Kayinamura; Pa Samba Community Health Care: Gil Bodog, Holy Cross Hospital; Margaret Korto, Federal Office of Minority Health Key Informants: Dr. Belai; Georges Awah; MD; Caroline Joe, MD; Iffy Nwabukwu Consultations: Christine Nkwain-Eyabi; Chuks Onyewu, MD ; Dan Austin, MD Outreach and Research on Women: Humble Sisters / Montgomery with Therese and Femmes Fortes/ African Women Collaborative with Patricia Serwah, Ghisliane, Sophie Ceesay, Dorothy Nanga Research on Elderly Care: Christine Binyet. Consultations: Abi Jinadin-Mustapha Reviews On Community Outreach: Christian Ndanga, Phil Watson, Augustine Mutemberezi; Elie Moussa, Chris Leintu, Dr. Alhadji Fofanah Cultural Standard Bearers: Dr Yaya Fanusie; Dr. Kofi Agyapong; Toun Olumide; Diane Daiga Continental African Heritage Council: African Cultural Leaders Capacity Building Leadership: Joshua Moses, Esq; Chris Leintu 6 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration Continental African Community: Enlightened Engagement THE GUIDING PRINCIPLES: “LISTENING, LEARNING, LEADING.” 1) Assessing needs through experiential, informed and sustained interactions with stakeholders (Listening). 2) Developing recommendations through empirical evidence, feedback and two-way communications with constituents and key informants (Learning). 3) Preparedness to undertake initiatives for community development and account for outcomes (Leading). METHODS WE USED TO INVOLVE PEOPLE The needs assessment is in line with community views and issues from a wide range of stakeholders, which include but not limited to: group representatives; community elders; individuals; subject experts; students; women's groups; faith-based leaders; business owners; and public officials. Progression of the needs assessments required sustained community engagement through: Spending time with all segments of the population to get informed perspectives; Attending community events as participant observers; Conducting surveys and interviews; Conducting public forums on core issues; Informal discussions; Participating in consultative forums; Reviews with key stakeholders in project teams; and Formal meetings with representative groups. The key element of the recommendations is the feasibility of implementation and preparedness of the Continental African Community to participate in realizing the policy objectives. Therefore, it is necessary to: Maintain long-term relationships and partnerships with a broad range of stakeholders. Recognize the issues and reflect the enlightened self-interests of the Continental African Community with particular need for sustainable development and self- representation. 7 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration Background Statistics on Heritage Migration is an observable fact that has been shaping societies for hundreds of years. A transnational community generally refers to migrant communities living abroad but maintaining strong social, economic, political, cultural and emotional ties with their homeland and with others of the same origin, in this case Africans from specific countries in the African Union. See: http://www.africa-union.org Quick Statistics Establishment: African Union, July 9, 2002 Membership: 53 Countries Administrative Center: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Largest City: Cairo, Egypt Lingua Franca: Language used, by virtue of its legal status, for official nation-wide communication in administrative, political and legal matters: Arabic, English, French, Portuguese, Amharic and Swahili Population: 2005 Estimate 850 Million Area: 29,757,900 km² (1st1), 11,489,589 sq miles Density: 25.7/km² (177th1); 66.6/sq mi Leadership: Chairman: His Execellency Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete of Tanzania – 2008 (rotating position) Commission Chairperson: His Excellency Jean Ping (permanent position) Africa’s Overlapping Economic Blocks The 20 member states of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC) Southern African Development Community (SADC) The Arab Maghreb Union - Northern Africa- (AMU) East African Economic Community (EAEC) Economic Blueprint: New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) 8 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration AFRICAN UNION MISSION TO THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1875 I STREET NW, SUITE 549 WASHINGTON, DC 20006 TELEPHONE (202)-429-7138 Fax (202)-429-7129 PRESS RELEASE AFRICAN UNION AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Presents Letters of Credence to President George W. Bush WASHINGTON, DC, July 26, 2007---The African Union (AU) Ambassador to the United States of America presented her Letters of Credence to President George W. Bush at the White House in Washington, DC. The presentation of credentials accrediting Ambassador Amina Salum Ali, a national of the United Republic of Tanzania, marks a new chapter in the relationship between Africa and the United States. In a letter addressed to Ambassador Ali containing his reply to the Letter of Credence from Chairperson Alpha Oumar Konare, President Bush said the United States ―stands ready to support‖ the African Union, which he described as ―integral to the continued growth and successful future of Africa.‖ He noted the historic significance of his country’s decision to become the ―first non-African Country to establish a separate diplomatic mission to the organization,‖ and reaffirmed his Administration’s commitment to ―building and strengthening the relationship between the states and peoples of Africa.‖ This ―commitment to Africa,‖ he said, is ―demonstrated in part by assistance programs such as PEPFAR,‖ the President Emergency Plan for Aid Relief, ―and by the growing economic and commercial relationship that the United States has with the continent.‖ In particular, the President pointed to the fact that ―U.S. trade with sub-Saharan Africa increased 242 percent between 2000 and 2006.‖ The President concluded by personally welcoming Ambassador Ali and said he ―anticipate(s) working closely with‖ her as the ―chief representative of the African Union on issues of mutual concern‖ to Africa and the United States. He wished her success ―during her tour as the first Ambassador of the African Union to the United States.‖ 9 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration Making Montgomery County Our Home of Choice Prior to 1965, most Continental Africans emigrated to European metropolis because of colonial relations. In the last three decades, there has been a steady increase in the number of Continental Africans living in Montgomery County (hereafter known as County) and the suburbs of the Washington Metropolitan Area. The growing population is attributed to five types of developments: The first is the number of African students who remained in the U.S. beginning in the 1970s. The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 made it easier for this highly educated group who initially migrated as F-I Visa students to obtain permanent status and citizenship as professionals. The second wave of migration began in the early to mid-1980s with the arrival of large numbers of refugees, particularly from the Horn of Africa, who fled violent conflicts in the region and the US cold war policy of resettling persons from communist regimes. The third wave came in the early 1990s with the introduction of the Diversity Visa program by the Immigration and Naturalization Services. The location of global institutions such as the World Bank, IMF, major think tanks and companies, and the presence of embassies account for the fourth and concurrent development with an expatriate and diplomatic population of legal residents or US citizens. There is a misconception that all Continental Africans are direct immigrants. Some Continental Africans are born to immigrant families dating back to their migration. This fifth factor is a conscious and systemic effort by parents to orient children born in the USA as Continental Africans, for example, in the same manner that the Jewish community maintains its identity in the Diaspora. Below: Montgomery County Nenye Njoku organizes the annual Celebrating Africa Motherhood. Like the Asians and Hispanics, for examples, the Continental African Community (CAC) is a 'transnational' community. Transnational communities have certain qualities and characteristics. These include the discernible community presence in the United States and local jurisdictions; community participation; and continued stakeholder relations with home country or continent, which have significant implications for both Africa and host jurisdictions. According to Tambiah (cited in Sek Pei LIM, 2000: ibid.), there are two types of transnational relations i.e., vertical and lateral. The 'vertical' relations refer to the 10 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration "…participation of immigrants in the host country to improve and impact the host nation.‖ The formation of this relationship is manifested and nurtured through active participation by the CAC in the social, economic, civic and political life of the County. The 2006 election season is considered a turning point in CAC public awareness; civic literacy; and organized, self-interest activism. The picture on the left is a cultural evening of celebrants. The 'lateral' relations are evident in the form of unbroken ties that maintain, foster, reinforce and extend relationships between the state, local jurisdictions and Africa. For examples: sending remittances by Continental Africans to their families back home; building family homes in Africa as a priority; making going home a ritual; going home to get married; sending children to Africa during holiday breaks and enrolling them in schools in Africa; participation in socioeconomic and political development in Africa, including running for elected offices and taking up appointed assignments; organizing trade, educational and cultural exchanges between Africa and local/state jurisdiction; time honored tradition of repatriating persons to be buried back home, etc. These vertical and lateral relationships perpetuate a transnational CAC whose socio-cultural Continental African identity, orientations, values and linkages are well defined and sustained to enable simultaneous stakeholder interests in the County/United States and Africa. In Maryland and with most jurisdictions, official statistics do not provide the aggregate number of African immigrants in the state or county. The US Census Bureau does not delineate who is Afro-Latino vs. Continental African vs. Caribbean vs. African American, as it is done for the other racial groups. The point is being advocated at the US Census Bureau for a separate classification in the 2010 census. Because a significant percentage of Continental Africans live in apartments and other unique rental arrangements, the true population of African immigrants as a percentage of the County population is distorted. The CAC in the County does not have specific neighborhoods. However, Silver Spring /White Oak, Glenmont/Wheaton, Burtonsville, Takoma Park, and Langley Park have large concentrations of Continental Africans. According to the Brookings Institution, while an increasing percentage of African immigrants in this region live in moderate and high-income neighborhoods, approximately 11% still live in poverty. 11 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration Figure 1: Percentage of Continental Africans in the Greater Washington DC Region 4% 2% 6% 14% 46% 28% Source: Brookings Institution The African immigrants do not form monolithic community. In our diversity, we are people from different countries and ethnic and indigenous groups (sometimes 250 or more) within a single country. We are of varied socioeconomic backgrounds, represented in a wide range of careers and we espouse different ideological and religious views. However, discernible common denominators, patterns, practices, and group interests project distinguishable CAC communal experiences that cut across national, ethnic, professional, gender and social memberships. Moreover, defining Continental Africans by country of origin for policy formulation and service delivery would be misleading because identical ethno-linguistic and cultural norms, values and institutions exist beyond nation-state boundaries. Few examples: The Mandingos all descend culturally from the ancient Mali Empire. Today, over 99% of Mandinka are Muslim and this ethnic group is in Senegal, The Gambia, Guinea, Mali, Guinea-Bissau, Burkina Faso, Chad, Sierra Leone, Cote d'Ivoire and Liberia. The Wolof is a large ethnic group with a population of nearly three million. Most of them are located Senegal and Gambia and also in Cote d’Ivoire and Mali. The Hausas in northern Nigeria and Cameroon have same culture and language. Hausas are found in other West African countries: Niger, Ghana, Benin, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Eritrea, Ghana, Sudan and Togo. Igbo population is one of the four main ethnic groups in Nigeria and is a member of the Niger-Congo family of languages. It is spoken also spoken in Equatorial Guinea. The major Yoruba ethnic group is in Southwest Nigeria and Benin. The Beti-Pahuin share common culture and history and are in Cameroon, Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and São Tomé and Príncipe. There are Ewes in Ghana and Togo. 12 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration French is used in about 55% of African countries and about 39% of African countries have English as the official lingua franca. A smaller percentage of African Countries have other lingua franca. The discussions on common experiences in the US that inform group interests, cultural interestedness and language use across Africa indicate that public policies and services in the County should be informed by documented needs assessments (not country of origin) because both the context and substance of gap in services do not lend themselves to distinguishable country backgrounds. Maintaining transnationalism in the Diaspora: Former President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria while on a presudential visit with Miss Africa International winner Taiwo Ariyo -also pictured on the right. Enduring values: Educational Brilliance & Self-reliant Resilience EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT Continental Africans in the United States constitute one of the most highly educated population groups. In its May 11, 1996 issue of The Economist Magazine, findings indicated that ―Three-quarters have some college experience; one in four has an advanced degree. Nearly 88 percent of adults who migrate from Africa to the U.S. have a high school education or higher.‖ These impressive figures surpass the figures for native-born Americans. It is not only the first generation that does well. 2006 estimates indicate that a highly disproportionate percentage of black students at elite universities are children of Continental African immigrants. Harvard University, for example, has estimated that two- thirds of their black population is not comprised of traditional black Americans1 but 1 African Immigrants, NY Times 13 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration immigrants and children of immigrants. This is true for other universities such as Yale, Princeton, Penn, Columbia, Duke and Berkeley2. In an analysis of Census Bureau data by the Journal of Blacks in higher education, African immigrants in the United States were found more likely to be college educated than any other immigrant group3. This information suggests that there is legitimate reason to account for the achievement of Continental Africans in MCPS, as required by the No Child Left Behind Act, in order to a) assess how students are making adequate yearly progress toward proficiency standards in Mathematics and English Language Arts by 2014; b) ensure high school ESOL students are on track to meet graduation requirements; c) take appropriate holistic measures to close any achievement gap. Europe, Latin, South U.S. All African Asian Areas Russia & America & Population Immigrants Immigrants Americans Canada Caribbean Not Fluent 0.6% 30.5% 7.6% 23.4% 11.5% 44.0% in English Less Than High 17.1% 39.1% 12.1% 21.2% 23.5% 57.4% School College 23.1% 23.3 43.8% 42.5% 28.9% 9.1% Degree Advanced 2.6% 4.2 8.2% 6.8% 5.8% 1.9% Degree SOURCE: 2000 US CENSUS SELF-RELIANT RESILIENCE The French saying is - L’impossible n’est pas Continental Africain. The Impossible is not Continental African. This ―pull by the bootstrap mentality‖ is a prized indicator of human competence. Currently, the CAC receives little or no funding from the County or non- governmental agencies in spite of the high access barriers facing our multi-generational population. One of the paradoxes of African immigrant families is that despite these potential threats to well-being, research indicates that these families have maintained strong community ties, positive health behaviors, and good health outcomes. Parents, however, express concern about the risks their children face and seek opportunities to increase their children's resilience against unhealthy environmental influences4. 2 Berkeley, SF Chronicle 3 African Immigrants in the United States are the Nation's Most Highly Educated Group. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, No. 26 (Winter, 1999-2000), pp. 60-61doi:10.2307/2999156 4 Health and Well-Being of African Immigrant Children and Their Families. Sherrill. L. Sellers. 14 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration Committed civic and faith-based leaders look inward to mobilize internal resources (no matter how meager they may be) to lay the foundation on which to build the community services and programs. They are providing social safety nets through mutual aid associations, which are more often the only source of relief during personal crisis and culturally ethnic-oriented demands. For examples, associations provide personal assistance to the persons/families; communal organizations and entrepreneurs employ their knowledge to adapt to the needs of fellow immigrants and the community at large 5. It is common for Continental Africans to be the main breadwinners for their parents, siblings and extended families. No job is too low to make a living, evident by the number of persons with advanced degrees who drive taxi-cabs, work as nursing assistants, security guards, restaurant workers, etc. Even though the Continental African experience is relatively recent, Continental Africans are already leaving their marks in the areas where they live in greatest numbers, evident by flourishing small businesses; faith-based institutions; an uppity mobile professional corps; vested homeowners; concerned members developing social, cultural and educational programs for youths and the elderly; vocal corps of activists designing issue platforms to educate the community on public policies; to Continental Africans developing self-help NGOs. Summarily, the CAC is a net gain for the County’s development. . Professor Sulayman Nyang from Gambia is an acclaimed scholar and life-long resident of Montgomery County. He serves as a mentor to the Continental African Community and teaches at Howard University. Needs Assessments and Methodology The initial impetus for the need assessments began on October 24, 2004 when a multidisciplinary and multinational group of Continental Africans, concerned over the exclusion and lack of representation of the CAC in the County affairs, met with staffers in the County Executive Doug Duncan’s Office under the auspices of Mrs. Parker Hamilton, and with the participation of the Latino Liaison Officer Mr. Joe Heiney-Gonzalez and the African American Liaison Officer Mrs. Tina Clarke. The accomplished objectives were to provide an overview of needs in the CAC, seek methods to develop resources and to establish and maintain effective representation of the CAC in County development. Also, participants agreed organize periodic outreach forums between the CAC and County officials to discuss issues that are germane to the CAC and to identify resources for solutions. 5 African Immigrant Culture in Metropolitan Washington, D.C.: Building & Bridging Communities Tradition and Cultural Identity in Senegal. In Smithsonian Festival of American Folklife Program Book. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution. 15 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration In February 2005, County officials, led by Ms. Alexandra Teaff, the then Multicultural Outreach Director for the Gilchrist Center for Diversity, organized a Welcome and Exchange Event with Continental African leaders and constituents. The event, which was held at the Gilchrist Multicultural Center, was interactive and participants addressed general needs assessment, specific barriers facing new immigrants in the County with particular focus on the low-income population. Mr. Joe Heiney-Gonzalez and the Asian representatives participated in the sessions. The findings are incorporated in various topics in this Needs Assessment and Recommendations Report. Beginning from 2006, The African People Action Committee (A-PAC) conducted an extensive survey, which covered self-identity and self-representation and attendant issues. This is critical because self identity and representation are both objective (effective) and felt (affective) and they inform and influence group interests, the interpretations of the issues, and significance attached to them. A total of 30 questions were asked of respondents using a variety of approaches. Recipients of the survey were selected at random, comprising of individuals, subject matter experts, students, the clergy, and ethnic-nationality group leaders. The survey instruments measured respondents’ ranking of the seriousness of various issues important to them. APAC used the feedbacks to develop the essential parameters for research, comparative analysis, and needs assessment. To further test the survey and research findings, non-Continental African individuals and organizations were included in the survey to measure their experiences on the same issues. For examples: Catholic Charities on elderly care; NAACP on public education; and Action In-Montgomery on housing and the role of African religious institutions in community advocacy. In the summer of 2006, Key Informants of the working groups participated with the leaders of the Latino, Asian, African American communities, which included NAACP, La Casa, Asian-Pacific Foundation, religious leaders, immigration coalitions and other minority advocacy groups, to identify common issues facing communities of color. The qualitative analyses and recommendations in this report were generated th participant- observations, formal and informal interviews, surveys, issue-oriented forums, and visual sociological methods that provide empirical approaches to the topics. Researchers also used data collected through secondary sources such as US Census, think tanks, data from service providers, books, magazines, and newspapers. Key Informants were selected to review focus group reports. At the end of a two year period, over 700 persons participated in the outreach. As with any assessment and recommendation, Continental African Community Partnership Forum only offers a guide to the County Executive, his staff and other users of this report to understand prioritized needs in the CAC. 16 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration Responsive and Accountable County Government In reviewing the information collected in 2006/2007, the APAC Survey Group identified perceptions that shape and influence Continental African construction of its presence, participation, and need for inclusion as stakeholders in the County. The scales used on the survey instrument ranged from 1 – 5 for each question: ―Strongly disagree or Not at all important‖ = 1; ―Somewhat disagree or un-important‖ = 2; ―Neither agree/disagree or neutral‖ = 3; ―Somewhat agree or important‖ = 4; and ―Strongly agree or very important‖ = 5. The weight applied is based on the percentage responses for each question as follows: ―0 – 19%‖ = 0, ―20 – 39%‖ = 1, ―40 – 59%‖ = 2, ―60 – 79%‖ = 3, and ―80 – 100%‖ = 4. This means, the higher the aggregate percentage, the more serious the issue was seen for the community. Here are the issues and their rankings: 3g. Ensure African representation among immigrant A. BROADENING THE TABLE OF groups and issues DIVERSITY. 10% Population classification is vital to the 10% development of social, economic and Strongly Disagree Somewhat Agree cultural policies, with implications on Strongly Agree resource allocations. Policy makers, 80% stakeholder respondents, data users and data providers recognize that the classification of ethno - demographic groups is collected for a variety of reasons. Among the primary purposes for needs assessments are: A fact finding method to help profile the County’s population as a whole or within a specific setting such as a target population in a workforce, etc. A guide for data collection and to assist service providers to better tailor and improve services for target groups within a diverse population. An accounting and monitoring mechanism to ensure the provisions of equitable services, equal opportunity, and comparative progress in a diverse population. In view of these purposes, participants believe the classification of the CAC should evolve beyond the limiting compliance with racial paradigms to include identifications that promote fair and equal access to opportunity in the CAC. While there is no concern with broad classification of all blacks as African Americans, the County should reexamine the approach as it relates to the benefits of affirmative access, participation, representation and resource allocations The current policy often results in unintentional marginalization of the CAC. This is due to the unique characteristics, interests and issues, including migrations, language and cultural barriers, which are critical factors in formulating public polices but they are not taken into consideration when outreach, resource allocations and services to the African American 17 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration community automatically account for services to African immigrants. But reality indicates otherwise. For example, naturally and reasonably, on some life-altering core issues, CAC Share identical concerns with other immigrant populations such Latino and Asian communities while these concerns, understandably, may be non-issues in the African American community. Participants noted that even when headlines on common issues are agreed on, the dimensions, substance and context – why it is an issue - might not be the same. For example, in 1996, with the passage of welfare reform, eligibility for publicly funded public benefits was severely restricted. Many legal immigrants, including those with green cards, have to wait for wait five years until they can be eligible for most federally funded public benefits. In the wake of budget cuts, immigrants are among the first to have their program eligibility drastically reduced and eliminated. In practice, Continental Africans work and pay taxes, shouldering the responsibility of helping the County balance its budget while sacrificing their own minimum safety nets and unaccounted for when they are excluded by being included as traditional African Americans. Even for US citizens and the organizational capacity to render services, the parity question is an issue. For example, even when no Continental African or CAC entity received services, awards, or is appointed/selected to a position for the purpose of diversity and minority inclusion, African American inclusion is deemed sufficient representation for the Black communities, regardless of the incongruities or disconnection from functionality. Ironically, the classification of the CAC under the African American community to promote diversity ends up overshadowing and precluding the CAC from the very benefits of diversity, which leaves the CAC in official limbo. 17% 60% of respondents “Strongly Agree” and 23% “Somewhat Agree” the CAC should be distinguishably classified to Neutral provide equitable benefits of the same Somewhat Important 23% Very Important rights and privileges on programs and 60% services designed to minority populations and other communities. KEY RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CONSIDERATION BY THE COUNTY EXECUTIVE AND DIRECTORS OF DEPARTMENTS: The CAC is an asset to the County’s socioeconomic development and it is justifiable for the County’s agenda to reflect this value by ensuring services and representations include the CAC as new comers move toward paths of self-sufficiency and long time residents and citizens aspire towards advancements in their various endeavors. Therefore, we submit the following priorities: 1. Data Collection While acknowledging that obtaining full annual figures for vital statistics is a long range objective, the County can and should be develop a system of collecting data for the 18 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration Continental African population in the county and as a target population in the county’s workforce, schools, business services, social services, etc. The collection of data is not an end in itself, but is essential for informed decision-making. This accounting and monitoring mechanism should be designed to yield more reliable population data to make comparative analyses. For example, data collection and analysis can provide information on how a target population is likely to respond to different policies. Rationale: Over the past two decades, the demographics of the Continental African populations have changed, just like the general population growth and composition in the County. Information about the growth of a target population, its characteristics, living conditions, spatial distribution, and resources is vital for rational policy formulation, planning and implementation. For this reason, the collection and analysis of population and development data constitute a fundamental part of policy-related activities. Planners and agencies need data, information and analysis on the different population and development issues for the purposes of: Assessing demographic trends in the Continental African community Assessing the socio-economic situation of target populations Designing evidence-based population policies, strategies and programs Integrating the target population factors into development planning Monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of policies and program and progress toward county and state goals Raising awareness about the Continental African population issues among government decision makers and the population at large. 2. Equity for Continental Africans When it applies to other communities, we urge the County Executive and his administration to establish and preserve equitable resources for the CAC through good practices, guidelines and standards set forth in awards, contracts, programs, selections, and appointments for the purposes of ensuring effective diversity and public accountability. The approach should be as equitable as possible in order to foster rational public policies that are aligned with daily realities and promote access and opportunity for all. To assist this public accountability, the County Executive should create an independent, volunteer CAC Advisory Group, which should be naturally headed by a Continental African to advise the County Executive and department heads on issues uniquely germane to the CAC as well as common issues shared by all groups in the County. Rationale: Equity recognizes the importance of working to ensure that newcomers or emerging communities have reasonable opportunities to participate on an equal footing and are properly represented in the County’s agenda and services. A direct two-way communication and consultations between the CAC and the County government improves communications; limits disruptions, confusions, and ambiguities; and expedites consensus and coordination to bring together the sum capacity of the CAC to work towards achieving agreed upon goals and objectives. 19 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration 3. Informed Planning for Public Accountability While an inventory of needs assessment is an expedient diagnostic tool, implementing recommendations requires a deep-dive match of specific needs with available resources in order to develop actual plans for closing the gaps in services. The continuum of services for the CAC has rarely been factored in the County’s previous agendas. This means there would be little or no baseline data to improve on. As an emerging community with mostly start-up and un-funded institutions, the ability to compete for grants and other opportunities to meet unmet needs such as health and human services is burdened by requirements for historical trends that are unrealistic or unreasonable. When funding levels are oriented for existing programs with the economy of scale to improve or expand services, these opportunities do not serve start-up organizations that need to incur fixed costs such as new rental space, equipments and overhead costs associated with administrative staffing. More exactly, representation and services would need to be established and we have covered some of the topics in this report under headlines aligned with the Leggett Administration’s Eight Policy Objectives. Working with the CAC as the user community, the Executive staff and directors of various departments should engage a broad range of professionals and agencies in obtaining data and qualitative analyses that reveal current status and gaps in services in order to yield the greatest insights, impacts and meaningfulness in planning and delivering critical services to the CAC. Rationale: The impact objective is to establish and continuously improve on a coordinated process that maximizes resources, eliminate duplications with clear and measurable action plans for delivering a coherent continuum of services to the CAC. B: ENLIGHTENED SELF-INTERESTS AND CIVIC ENGAGEMENT Along with the public and private sectors, the community sector is one of the three pillars of society because our quality of life, our economic strength, and the vitality of our democratic institutions depend on the efficient functioning of these interdependent sectors that support one another. Undoubtedly, community involvement is the agent of change and remains the key purveyor of development when organizations and individuals bring their knowledge, expertise and passion to public policy debates and identify priorities to governments. 90% of Continental Africans born in the US or naturalized US citizens vote in elections and more participate in the civic process as a manifestation of their rights and responsibilities, and commitment to community development in the County. By encouraging people to participate and work together for common causes, the CAC strengthens its presence, gives voice to the voiceless, allows for multiple perspectives to be heard on a variety of issues, and opens up avenues for people to practice the skills of democratic life. 20 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration Participants noted that despite the skilled, multidisciplinary talents in the CAC, the CAC is 4b. Africans should lobby & seek legislative representation 24% Somewhat Important Very Important 76% locked out from County Affairs. Usually, the CAC receives late notice or no notice at all on the important developments in the County, which includes the legislative branch of government. The CAC is the only community that has non-Continental African appointed/selected spokespersons. This practice results in awkward experiences when the majority of community-based stakeholders and the appointed spokesperson have no working relationship and the spokesperson demonstrates no evidence of engaged and sustained outreach to the CAC. Much worse, the spokesperson may independently espouse ideas and positions that are contrary to, and in the direct conflict with, the views, articulated perspectives, and interests in the CAC. Most often, the spokesperson or even Continental Africans who are required to ensure that the CAC gets timely information do not demonstrate the capacity to carry out the broad outreach. Lack of capacity to provide information to the community invariably results in tribal representations or a small group of persons, sometimes with personal interest conflict of interest, making sweeping decisions. Information alerts on important community development and direct access to the County Executive and Council members 10% 30% Neutral Somewhat Important 60% Very Important 60% of respondents “Strong Agree” and 30% “Somewhat Agree” that Continental Africans should receive timely alerts; gain access to the executive and legislative branches of governments, and devise long-term strategies for direct participation. 21 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration KEY RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CONSIDERATION BY THE COUNTY EXECUTIVE AND DIRECTORS OF DEPARTMENTS: 1. Building Bridge of Communication Respondents appreciate Mr. Leggett’s demonstrated approach of ―grassroots governing,‖ evident by his tireless town hall meetings to engage the citizenry. Over the course of the years, we are witnesses to the burst of civic engagement by the immigrant community and it is obvious that the CAC has matured into stakeholder constituency. The Leggett Administration should work with inclusive CAC organizations and leadership to identify reliable networks and committed broad-based ―Supranational‖ leaders with demonstrated outreach and competence to bring seriousness to the germane issues with professionalism, clarity, and consistency. This executive prerogative should derive its strength from the evolving relationship between the CAC and the County, and designed to guide the identification of common cause, working principles and commitments that will shape policy implementation, foster the unique strengths and different ways of working for common good, and appreciate the contributions of both the CAC and the County in community development. When communities and governments identify common priorities and objectives, the working relationship facilitates cooperation and collaboration and also acknowledges the challenges and constraints under which solutions are implemented. Rationale: Community involvement is necessarily an endogenous process – coming from within the community itself and community organizations are accountable to their constituents that they serve by giving collective voice to their needs and development, including their rights within the law to advocate for change. Since advocacy is an intrinsic element in engineering change in a democratic society, a purposeful, transparent, consistent cooperation with the County Executive’s Office, heads of departments and commissions builds and encourages meaningful community involvement. 2. Close the Disparity in the Workforce. The CAC is an integral part of the fabric of our society and we urge the County Executive and Director of Departments to acknowledge the competitive talents and expertise in the CAC by eliminating the under-representation of qualified Continental Africans in the County’s leadership, workforce, and management positions. Where the opportunities exist, the County should increase the hiring of applicants with bicultural knowledge of the African language and cultural competencies to enhance service and outreach to the CAC. Rationale: The changing demographics of the County means that the public served by the County is also changing. When agencies recruit and retain a workforce representative of the County’s demographics, management would be according equal access and opportunity to all, which correlate with stabilizing principles within the framework of fair and inclusive societies. Further, a governing system that reaches out to tap the potentials of all segments of the populations provides a steady, diverse, and dynamic stream of talents and resources 22 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration for the County, boosts community morale, and promotes the motivation for stakeholder- ship. C: OFFICIAL LIAISON FOR CONTINENTAL 4d. Creation of Offices of African Affairs & Commissions in high density African localities AFRICAN AFFAIRS As the CAC grows in number and 7% potentials, the need to negotiate the 23% unwieldy and myriad of issues attendant Neutral Somewhat Important with population growth (from a first Very Important generation student community to a multi- 70% generational population of diverse persuasions) is critical. In this growth scale, the CAC has no eyes and ears within the County government to educate decision makers about the CAC. Findings indicate that some departmental heads do not have basic knowledge about the CAC and believe that all blacks from anywhere, regardless of their unique needs, are African Americans as far as services and resources are concerned. There is no specific ―to go person‖ in the Administration to assist the CAC the constituents with inquiries and explanations. Calls to officials are often routed from one department to the other; accents or limited English proficiency lead to miscommunication, and when calls are returned, it does not resolve the questions. We share this information for possible reference only. March 27, 2006 Mayor Williams Establishes Office and Commission on African Affairs Contact (Media Only): Vince Morris (202) 727-5011; Sharon Gang (202) 727-5011 (Washington, DC) Mayor Anthony A. Williams today signed into law the Office and Commission on African Affairs Act of 2006. These offices will join other constituent offices in the District government that represent the city’s ethnically diverse community. Mayor Williams was joined at the signing ceremony by Councilmember Vincent Orange who first submitted the legislation on September 20, 2005. ―This bill will help African immigrants find information on jobs, housing, health care and other vital services when they move to the District,‖ said Mayor Williams. ―Without question, African immigrants are an integral and vibrant part of the District. By signing this legislation we are ensuring that African residents in our city are better served and represented throughout our city and the District government. This is a proud day in our city.‖ The legislation establishes both the Office of African Affairs and the Commission on African Affairs within the District government. The Office would be under the Executive 23 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration Office of the Mayor and charged with ensuring that services and programs are provided to African communities within the District, given the language, employment, and service barriers that exist. The 15-member Commission on African Affairs would advise the Mayor, Council, and Office of African Affairs regarding the views and needs of the African communities in the District. August 6, 2007 Mayor’s Office on African Affairs Celebrates the Contributions of African Immigrant Community to the District of Columbia (Washington, DC) The Mayor’s Office on African Affairs (OAA), in conjunction with the African Immigrant Community, will celebrate the important contribution of the African immigrant community to Washington, DC. This event, which will honor Mayor Adrian M. Fenty for his support of the newly created Mayor’s Office on African Affairs, will be held on Monday September 10, 2007 at Duke’s City Restaurant and Lounge from 6 pm-10 pm. Duke’s City Restaurant and Lounge is located at 1208 U Street, NW, Washington, DC. This inaugural event, co-sponsored by Live Afrique Magazine, Kololo Entertainment, IDOA Entertainment, Kicking-It-Live Inc, and Duke’s City Restaurant and Lounge, highlights the fact the Mayor’s Office on African Affairs is the only office of its kind anywhere in the country. In celebration of the District’s rich African community, the event will feature local artists and performers from various countries and regions of Africa. OAA Director, Ms. Nebiat Solomon, hopes that the event will bring attention the rich cultural diversity that comprises the African community of the District of Columbia. ―This is a great opportunity to showcase our community to the Mayor and the larger community.‖ The Mayor’s Office on African Affairs was created by an act of the DC City Council in March 2006. Mayor-elect Adrian M. Fenty fully staffed the Office, appointing Ms. Nebiat Solomon as the first Director. 70% of respondents “Strongly Agree” and 23% “Somewhat Agree” that it is necessary to pursue official Liaison Relationship with the County. KEY RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CONSIDERATION BY THE COUNTY EXECUTIVE AND DIRECTORS OF DEPARTMENTS 1. Support the Creation of a Liaison Position Participants understand that council (legislative) sponsorship and approval may be needed, when it is feasible, to establish a liaison position that require funding. The County Executive should support a liaison position in the County Executive’s Office that will interface with all levels of government and agencies to address general and specialized 24 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration services to the CAC, which include safety, human rights, economic development, housing, employment, public health, transportation, and education. In doing so, the CAC can rely on a responsible party to facilitate relationship with the County agencies and commissions; sensitize department heads on pertinent issues of concern to the CAC; receive and respond to inquiries from CAC constituents; identify and leverage resources from both the private and public sources to assist the community’s access to opportunities; and keep the community abreast of important development in the County. Rationale: The Liaison position provides a feasible structure that complements and reinforces the relationship between government operations and CAC outcomes. It also provides a cost effective and efficient way for the County Executive’s Office to assemble, coordinate, and manage comprehensive information and development in order to respond with effective policy and program. D. GLOBAL SOCIETY: PLURALISM AND 3f. Bring more visibility & awareness to African INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS immigrant issues in the U.S. Community, organizational and 70% 60% instituential life can be fraught with 50% conflicted hostility, discord, 40% 30% discrimination, and tension resulting 20% from the inability to be inclusive and 10% 0% respectful of human differences. About Strongly Somew hat Disagree Disagree Neither Somew hat Strongly Agree or Agree Agree 80 of 120 respondents surveyed Disagree indicated that the nature of the problem is couched in power differential, the stereotypes and the isms of racism, sexism, ageism, and ableism and dominant groups in an organizational or committee structures. In our increasingly global village and pluralistic County, public education and communications are vital for informed dialogue and inquiry, and they enhance members’ ability to think clearly and critically about issues that influence community decisions and development, mindful of the primacy of value perspective, the importance of accommodating differing viewpoints, and need for peaceful coexistence. These also place major importance in using people’s own material and human resources, socio-cultural capital, and their spiritual wealth as the basis for mutual understanding and participatory development. However, the media and policy-makers completely bypass direct and informed dialogue and consultations with the CAC on important economic, cultural, political and social issues that affect the CAC and influence international relations in the County and beyond. The media often highlights catalogue of calamities and either minimizes success stories, unaware of the success stories, or is not interested in the success stories relating to CAC and Africa. Participants believe that when concerted effort is not made to publicize balanced perspectives on Africa and the positive contributions of Continental Africans in the County, stereotypical perceptions and reactions breed public ignorance, which is sometimes promoted in public school curricula and public access television with disproportionate 25 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration focus on ancient times; inaccurate public presentations without any critical thinking on the context or updated developments in contemporary Africa. Overall, the inaccurate, compromised and negative projections: Promote ethnic discrimination, inequality, and condescending attitude towards Continental Africans and Africa; Foster poor self-esteem among youths in schools and lack of sensitivity on the part of the teachers and other service providers; Encourage stereotypical ethnic phobia and forfeits valuable opportunities for learning and enlightenment; Enable the use of developmentally inappropriate and culturally irrelevant/ insensitive approaches in addressing gap in services in the CAC. Identify, Catalog, and Enumerate Continental African Embassies should be play a role in African organizations in the Region promoting relations 70% 70% 60% 60% 50% 50% 40% 40% 30% 30% 20% 20% 10% 10% 0% 0% Strongly Somewhat Neither Agree Somewhat Strongly Agree Strongly Somew hat Neither Agree or Somew hat Disagree Disagree or Disagree Agree Disagree Disagree Disagree Agree In the County, the CAC is often expected to demonstrate its presence and essence through performing (traditional dancing) arts. Performing arts is an aspect of culture but it does not capture the complexity of a people’s way of life, which includes the enduring indigenous institutions, the intellectual vigor, professional resourcefulness, and social ambiance that are still untold stories but nevertheless compelling CAC attributes in the fine tradition of brilliance and resilience. 70% of respondents “Strongly Agree” and 20% “Somewhat Agree” that we must bring more visibility and awareness on African affairs, arts and culture, and engage community residents in multicultural dialogues and understanding. KEY RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CONSIDERATION BY THE COUNTY EXECUTIVE AND DIRECTORS OF DEPARTMENTS: The County’s social, educational and economic development agenda should recognize the critical role that Continental Africans play at all levels of development - as professionals of every stripe, business owners, homeowners, consumers and taxpayers - by engaging the 26 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration CAC in useful exchanges that reflect this range of community assets to bring balanced perspectives to issues that shape reactions and developments through: 1. Deliberative People-to-People Development Montgomery County is a has a kaleidoscope of world cultures and ethnic groups. Therefore, it is imperative for county agencies, organizations, and businesses to adjust to the changing demographics, including for the county to understand that with the increasing demands of international business and international business and globalization, the practice of multicultural competence is vital. Therefore, the County should support Deliberative People-to-People Development, which uses "deliberative dialogue" groups to facilate the building of authentic relationships among CAC populations and County agencies, businesses and organizations to foster multicultural competence that agencies and organizations can use to construct parity and include diverse cultures in operations, policies, and practice and patronize programs. A "people-to-people" dimension transcends ideological and racial boundaries and embraces people at non-judgmental levels. Rationale: Multicultural competence in organizational settings reflects structural dynamics that are genuinely committed (behavior as well as interaction) to diverse representation throughout the organization and at all levels. It is sensitive and resposive to open, supportive, working environment. The organization works to include diverse cultures in operations, and organization policies and practices are carefully linked to the goals of multicultural understanding. Agencies that are multiculturally competent are authentic in how they respond to changing policies and practices that block inclusiveness and cultural diversity (Sue, 1991). Multicultural organization development distinguishes itself from traditional organization development practices in the following ways: a) Takes a social justice perspective and facilitates ending oppression and dis crimination in organizations. b) Believes that inequities that arise within organizations may not be primarily due to poor communication, lack of knowl edge, poor management, and personorganization fit problems, etc., but to monopolies of power. c) Assumes that conflict is inevitable and not necessary unhealthy Deliberative Organization Development engages participants in dialogue groups. Based on research that shows that the power of decision-making by engaging residents in deliberative dialogues through the use of public forums opens the door to community change, changing the way people talk can change the way they relate to each other and to their problems. This learned behavior can produce residents who are actively engaged in changing the quality of life of their communities (Saunders, 1999). Stakeholder participants should be encouraged to develop and test strategies that strengthen the role of residents and stakeholders in governing themselves and finding the different ways that people solve their common problems, using distinctive but interrelated, interdependent areas such as: 27 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration 1. Residents and Public Choice 2. Community Politics and Community Leadership 3. The Public and Public Schools 4. Institutions, Professionals, and the Public 5. The Public-Government Relationship 6. International Relationships 2) Support for Continental African Cultural Heritage: Arts and Humanities Picture Below: From Left: Aduare from Nigeria and Isabelle from Ivory Coast. Performing, ethinic and visual arts and humanities, which includes the disciplines of history, archaeology, classics, literature, philology, and linguistics, as well as social science fields such as cultural anthropology are all critical to the interpretation of African heritage. The County and agencies should explore, develop, support, promote, and fund Continental African Arts, Culture and Humanities that serve as a resource for community development, education, advancement and multicultural relations. This can be accomplished by including the CAC as a target community in funding activities that support heritage planning and cultural preservation; arts education and exhibitions; artistic creativity; intercultural literacy forums; sensitivity training for department directors and managers, etc. Rationale: Culture is a heritage treasure. Aware and proud of Africa’s contributions to world civilization, the Continental African Heritage Committee calls for County partnerships to facilitate multicultural exchanges with the goal of fostering understanding and harmonious relations in our County. In the 2008, plans are developed for: African Aesthetics Presents: The Beauty and Tapestry of Africa’s Cultures with the following elements and objectives: 1. Strengthening the African Arts and Cultural Environment: Promote a cross segment of attributes through: Theater that is focused on acting out ethnic experiences and multicultural stories in front of a live audience, using combinations of speech, gesture, music, dance, sound and spectacle. Folklore and contemporary music with a focus on African musical concerts and education through music. Dance with creative African expressions in social, spiritual or performance setting. Culinary Arts with Taste of Africa brand in the art of ethnic cooking, narrations and presenations with signance on occassions. Visual Arts depicing African painting, wood carving; textile and printmaking, architecture. Humanities through oral, listening and written texts that increase knowledge with African oral traditions; heritage instutitions; meanings of names; and the use of literacy series to foster African literature and philosopies. 2. Innovation: Develop new strategic partnerships to expand and strengthen the producer and presenter networks. 28 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration 3. Education and Learning: Increase opportunities for participation in a range of performing arts experiences as an audience member; a presenter; or a workshop participant. Develop cultural and educational synergies for school-age audiences and improve the audience for African artistic presentations. 4. Leadership: Develop more viable avenues and touring opportunities to support and encourage performing arts organizations that demonstrate best practice. 5) Annual Festival. Create and organize real opportunities to promote African heritage and main an archival resource base to contribute locally, nationally and internationally to the improvement of our social and cultural environment and to keep our Continental African culture meaningful for the benefit of future generations. Group picture: Kenya, Binta (Niger) (Binta), Rudo Guinea(Khadija), Rachelle –Ghana; Telena, Mame and Congo Rationale: Culture encompasses the total dimension of people-hood; it is what makes us human. Cultural sustainability and appreciation deepen mutual understanding among peoples, create a community that respects cultural diversity, and strengthen cultural commonality. In our daily interactions, for examples, where public servants are to serve; educators are to teach and students are to learn; the police department is to maintain law and order; and health and social providers are to provide vital services, understanding and experiencing the plurality of human identities, global systems and perspectives will provide structural bases for bringing down barriers, improving mutual communications, and enhancing delivery and utilization of services. By fostering abilities to appreciate humanity and to respect legitimate boundaries, these practices are intended to institutionalize the qualitative dimensions of public education and social tolerance. This does not require people to adopt Continental African perspectives or African traditions because they have been exposed to them or mangers have received cross-cultural sensitivity training, but to act respectfully, rationally and humanely as members in a civilized society where reciprocal and mutual responsiveness are valued. Above: Pictured is Jacob Nguni, Guitarist Virtuoso of Rocafil Jazz and Prince Nico Mbarga Fame, a civic champion of community causes. Entertainer Extraordinaire, he plays to multiracial audience. 29 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration 2. Educational, Cultural & Business Exchange and Consultative Relations Go Glocal: think Globally and act Locally. The County Executive’s Office and pertinent agencies should establish and improve working partnerships with the CAC to advance ideas and bring awareness to the relevant issues of the day, including international affairs; enable recognitions of the accomplishments of Continental Africans and CAC NGOs that are providing valuable services; and promote cultural and business exchanges between the County and Africa. Engagements should reflect a representation of people at various levels of society - from academics, public advocates, business executives, African diplomats, senior citizens, to students. The formats can be focused workshops, symposia, conferences, cultural and trade missions, student exchange, or media programs on the County’s public access television. Consultative relationships may be advice or feedback given or offered on a particular issue, or information supplied in report form. Recognize Achievements by Continental Africans in the community 100% 90% 80% Strongly Agree 57% 70% 57% 60% Som ewhat Agree 13% 50% Neither Agree or Dis agree 40% 20% 13% 30% Strongly Dis agree 10% 20% 20% 10% 10% 0% Rationale: The traditional view of a regionally influenced position as either an impediment or facilitator of development has given way to the acceptance that educational, political, social and economic development cannot be disassociated from the human and cultural context of any society. Informed dialogue negates stereotypes in all arenas, explores and promotes multiple pathways of relating to community development by tapping into the wealth of culture, heritage, experience and knowledge in the community. 30 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration Affordable Housing in an Inclusive Community CLOSING THE AFFORDABILITY GAP Housing costs are rising faster than incomes. An increasing number of Continental Africans are homeowners in the County as well as there is a substantial population of renters, especially recent immigrants. There are different types of affordable housing – so the question is affordable to whom? To answer the pertinent question, affordable housing emerged in twofold: affordable ownership and maintenance for those who can buy a home and decent quality rental dwelling for working families who are not homeowners. The needs assessment centered on the problem of "affordability gap" between what households can pay for quality housing as a percentage of their income and the actual cost (market price) of doing so. Findings indicate that families are spending more than half of their income on housing and working around the clock to maintain a stable dwelling. Those with the greatest needs are the poor and working-class households who are forced to live in sub-standard, overcrowded quarters. It is common to find multiple, unrelated persons renting or sub-renting under exploitative conditions, including health hazards and unregulated landlords who arbitrarily set and increase rents, and administer extra-judicial evictions without any formal or legal process. Many low-income families are not aware of assistance with the cost of utilities. Potential homeowners are ill informed about opportunities for homeownership and financial illiteracy contributes to homeowners buying their first homes on lending conditions they never fully understood. The turmoil in the subprime mortgage market is having impacts in the CAC as adjustable-rate mortgages with teaser rates reset to market levels, with growing numbers of homeowners barely struggling to keep up with payments. Families are losing their homes, threatening their American dream, coupled with other challenges facing working families, such as rising transportation costs and commute times, increased energy costs, and higher property insurance rates. Also, Continental Africans have lost their homes due to accumulated disrepairs that became too expensive to fix. The demand for affordable housing is causing working families to move from the County to neigboring jurisdictions in order to purchase affordable quality homes or to rent at prices within their means. Sometimes, that means the wrenching decision to transfer high performing students out of their good schools, including magnet programs, in the County. Persons living in rental and public housing move more frequently and the constant struggles to find adequate, affordable housing are disruptive for families and children, if they are parenting. This may have enormous effects on the children's education and social adjustments. Discussants in forums and respondents to surveys acknowledge the obstacles to affordable housing, which are created by the social nature of NIMBYism - Not In My Backyard - who is going to live near me, who will be attending the same school with my chidren, etc, and 31 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration understandably, the financial need for the stakeholder homeowner and the institutions related to housing - builders, mortgage lenders, realtors, insurers to want maximum return on their investments through the rise in the value of their assets. There is nothing wrong with this position. However, without question, there is need to find reasonable and sensible balance between protection of home value and creation of affordable homes. KEY RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CONSIDERATION BY THE COUNTY EXECUTIVE AND DIRECTORS OF DEPARTMENTS: For more than 30 years, the county’s policy supports Moderately Priced Dwelling Unit) zoning plan that requires developers to include affordable housing in any new residential developments. Participants overwhelmingly applaud this ―Inclusionar y Zoning/Developer Incentives,‖ which encourages developers to include homes affordable within their market-rate housing projects. We understand that no single policy is a panacea to address the shortage of affordable housing. Our recommendations aim to help residents from being priced out of homeownership or rental dwellings in the markets, assist Continental Africans to become homeowners; prevent persons from homelessness due to lack of information that protects the tenant; and to explore effective solutions or new policies/ practices that tackle the growing home-affordability panic. How may we keep make provision for Affordable Housing in an inclusive County. Threshold for Affordable Units: In consultations with housing advocates, the County should maintain a percentage of dwelling units as low-moderate affordable dwelling units. If units are converted to condominiums, for ownership, eligible low and moderate income households must have annual income no greater than 80 percent of the area median to qualify. Certificates of Occupancy may be based on compliance with a proportionate percentage of affordable units that are available for occupancy, compared to the number of market units constructed. Rental Rates and Conditions of Affordable Units: The County may stabilize housing for low-to-moderate income persons by ensuring that rental rates do not exceed current Section 8 Fair Market rents (including utilities) as published by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, according to the number of bedrooms in each unit. Within recommendation, the County should use combinations of policies to reduce excessive conversion of Federal Section 8 housing units to market rate units in order to help maintain adequate supply of affordable housing. Housing officials should enforce effective measures to dissuade landlords from evicting tenants for the sole purpose of raising rents; investigate unexplained sizeable rent increases without commensurate improvements in the units; and aggressively target slumlords to improve housing conditions to meet occupancy standards. Good-Faith Partnership: The County should provide incentives to owners or management companies to enter into ―good faith‖ marketing agreement that should guarantee that affordable units intended for rent are also rented to eligible low-income renters. The 32 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration owners or management companies should be required to ensure that the affordable units remain affordable in perpetuity to low-to-moderate income households, whether the units are rental or for sale. Among the methods of assurance, mechanisms that minimize the effects of new monthly fees – for example, a ―transfer fee‖ to supplement condominium fees – should be in place. Community Education on Fair Housing and Home Ownership: In partnership with community volunteers, the County should develop and provide comprehensive public education and outreach program to the CAC to enable renters and landlords to understand their respective rights and obligations under County’s laws. The County’s Department of Housing should conduct financial literacy classes to enable persons to understand ―why they should not bite more than they can chew – spend a disproportionate high amount of their income on housing or buy a home they cannot maintain based on the high monthly payments relative to their normal income level. Officials should also conduct sessions on affordable homeownership programs for those who can afford to buy based on the amount they spend on rentals. Outreach to CAC on housing can be facilitated by bilingual / bi- cultural volunteers. Facilitating Homeownership: The County should increase the affordable homeownership by making financing more available or cheaper through lower down-payment and mortgages, and low interest loans based on income. Federal estimates indicate that about 90 percent of the benefits from the existing mortgage interest tax deduction go to those with incomes over $40,000 per year. The County should support efforts at state level to create homeownership tax credit to make buying a home more affordable for those with low and moderate-incomes. Having targeted tax credit for those who currently cannot afford to purchase a home will help in closing the affordability gap. The County should maintain and enhance the process for Emergency Home Repair program, which will enable Continental Africans to receive financial assistance for emergency repairs and eligible persons to receive Home Rehabilitation loans for basic home improvements. Affordable Housing on Housing Trust fund: If not already in existence, a Housing Trust Fund should support the development and preservation of affordable homes. These funds are from local sources and not from federal housing assistance. Therefore, they can be flexibly tailored and adapted to address the County’s affordable housing needs and also used to leverage additional funding from other public and private sources. Transit-Oriented Development: The County should encourage housing development that emphasizes explicit connection between housing and transportation, land use, and jobs. The practice promotes the multiple benefits and underlying efficiencies of planning for the various components in an integrated manner. For example, a development should be planned and coordinated for mixed-use purposes that include affordable homes in close proximity to transportation focal points and commercial centers can effectively increase transportation and home choices, reduce automobile dependence, and bridge the distance between where residents live and work. 33 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration Forging Forward for Affordable Housing: Considering the multiple and opposing views on the issue of affordable housing, the County should initiate and support dialogues to explore new, alternative funding mechanisms to create/maintain affordable housing countywide for low income to moderate income families and also to redress predatory lending. This may involve strengthening existing partnerships /programs and forging new alliances with the private sector, including nonprofit and for-profit housing providers and lenders to: Facilitate Permit Expediting/Fast -Track Authorit y, which will develop and streamline methods for reviewing the process and effectiveness of pre-qualification and certification for families to purchase available homes or rental units. Increase access to counseling for minority immigrants by expanding the County’s homeownership education programs. Develop formal and informal procedures for dialogue with the private sector partners to increase the development of affordable housing during the rezoning and special use permit. Provide assistance and incentives to nonprofit housing providers to purchase, construct, rehabilitate and/or manage owner-occupied and rental units. Accounting for Fair Share Policy: Given that the County promotes equitable distribution of a diverse range of affordable housing throughout the County to ensure that low income to moderate income households have opportunity to live in any jurisdiction in the County, proportionate to the County’s average household in that income group, homebuilders who benefit from specific provisions should provide annual report to the County, which include detailed historical data in tabular format on units rented, unit rates, incomes of renters, units not rented to qualified renters, date of lease expiration, and other data the County need implement its policies. 34 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration An Effective and Efficient Transportation Network The Transportation Panel surveyed 73 persons of varied background. Respondents’ perspectives summarily expressed the need for a transportation system that projects the quality of the County, which is served by transportation, rather than people overwhelmed by transportation - congestion. Attention was drawn to the need for transportation plans that a) protect the safety of children walking to school; b) give other pedestrians and bicycle riders healthy and safe options; c) reserve adequate land for recreation; d) make allowance for sufficient home and business densities to make transit service a viable option that also boosts leisure travel; e) ensure the availability of adequate, safe, and reliable transportation services for the elderly and disadvantaged, who, because of their physical or cognitive disability, or age, cannot transport themselves or able to use personal transportation and depend on publicly funded transportation to gain access to their vital needs. Low-income Continental African workers who commute daily and have no choice but to use public transport experience hardships when ride-on buses do not come on time. This may result in a chain reaction of the worker not being to connect to transfer buses, lateness to work, and desperate and stranded night commuters who missed the last Ride-On Bus. Also, the absence of French/English bilingual bus drivers on routes that are heavily used by new African immigrants, such as in the Takoma Park, Silver Spring/Wheaton/ Germanton areas, sometimes result in flared up disputes because of communication gaps. Ridership on rail is generally supported, especially for the time and time is money saving – the faster course rather than wasting hours (and dollars) sitting in traffic. Metrorail also promotes an environmental friendly ―green cause‖ by contributing to the reduction in congestion and carbon emissions from too many cars on the road. Consequently, fare increase by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA)- both on buses and rail - is a call for concern, a debate which began in earnest in the summer. This would be the third fare increase within 10 years. While it is practical to restructure the fare system to make new technology available and meet operating costs, survey respondents voiced uneasiness with fare hikes that have disproportionate impact on very low-income workers whose demand for public transportation is relatively inelastic because they have no alternative. They commute during off peak hours, unlike the average professional. Given the aforementioned needs, there is broad consensus for multiple modes of transport that should serve a transportation infrastructure. The choices should be coordinated to provide a well-maintained, reliable, safe, cost-effective and efficient transportation that: supports the labor market and robust economy; reduces road casualties; provides viable options for all; and promotes a user-friendly commute for personal business or leisure. 35 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration RECOMMENDATION FOR CONSIDERATION BY THE COUNTY EXECUTIVE AND DIRECTORS OF DEPARTMENTS: 1 Enhance the image of the County with an environment that encourages pedestrian activities with upgraded walkways and bikeway network along major thoroughfares to allow for safe circulation throughout the County. 2 Improve directional signage of important landmarks. 3 Maintain and operate the various components and multiple modes of transport system (bus, rails, other publicly funded transports) as a coordinated enterprise to improve mobility, reliability, safety, and security. Through cooperation with the WMATA and neighboring jurisdictions, an integrated transportation system will maximize resources and help agencies to realize greater efficiency and economies of scale, improved customer satisfaction, reduced vehicle emissions and fuel consumption, and maintain demand for a customer oriented, performance driven transport system. 4 Enact and enforce stricter penalties on drunk driving and uninsured vehicles to reduce the number of road casualties. 5 Allocate more buses on highly used routes, evidenced by demand. Bus drivers should receive cultural sensitivity training to encourage a user-friendly public transportation system in the Continental African Community. 6 Given the fact that low-income riders would bear the brunt of fare increases, the County should consider measures that do not overly target non off-peak hours, which are disproportionately used by low-income workers and the elderly. 7 Buses should be programmed to run on time to decrease incidences of unconnected bus transfers that result in workers being late for work or being stranded because they missed the last bus. The County should consider the use of designated ―express lanes‖ that public transportation may use during rush hours. Punctuality will improve efficient operations, which would be realized through increased rider-ship and reduced overhead costs. 8 Prioritize integration of "transportation disadvantaged" issues into the County’s comprehensive plans to ensure services to the handicapped. 9 Sensitize the immigrant communities of grievance procedures, which include the steps to take to file local complaints when a person believes his or her rights have been breached or the person experienced insensitive treatment from public transportation operators. 36 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration Healthy and Sustainable Communities HEALTH CARE SERVICES IN THE CONTINENTAL AFRICAN COMMUNITY Bethel World Ministry Health Care program, led by Continental African Amy Jallah, promotes health fitness and disease prevention. After 6 public meetings with constituents and Key Informants, on September 28, 2006, the Health Care Initiative Caucus organized a community meeting with Montgomery Department of Health and Human Services. Mrs. Betty Lam, Director of Community Affairs and a staff had an active 2-hour session with over 25 health professionals, civic and faith-based leaders. The Health Care Initiative Caucus held 5 subsequent community outreach meetings that included specialized segments on communicable diseases, prenatal care, cancer and diabetes awareness; conducted surveys; and analyzed researched findings from service providers. A challenge facing local and state, and health care authorities is the lack or shortage of comprehensive data on Continental Africans seeking and receiving services. Hence, there are scant or no reliable data for examples - the number of HIV cases among Continental Africans, and the rate of other cases such as stroke, diabetes, hypertension, obesity, mental health, etc. During public forums, presenters used qualitative text data from focus groups, in-depth interviews, research and also participants’ perspectives and experiences to explore shared cultural beliefs and potential barriers to preventive care, early detection / risk- reduction, and case management / intervention services. The cultural consensus analysis and exchanges explored how strongly Continental African women and men in different and combined sessions agree or disagree among themselves in their beliefs about health risks, knowledge of symptom presentation and screening guidelines. Exchanges also addressed the nuances in meanings and attitudes toward discussing body parts in public health forums. The study design involved focus group interviews with 15 health professionals, including key informants, and in-depth interviews with 45 Continental African men and 65 Continental African women. Issues: A substantial majority of Continental African newcomers and low-income residents do not have medical insurance and this segment of the population is hard to reach through conventional outreach methods. Residents may not know how to independently access centralized primary care or even localized public health clinic facilities. Some shy away from public services due to fear of immigration rules, embarrassments/discomfort when privacy is not guaranteed or because they are uninsured or under-insured. These barriers have limited access to health care mainly through the emergency room. 37 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration Beyond language limitations, most health providers in the County are unfamiliar with the cultural context of Continental African patients and the full continuum of care needed. This gap in health care service mirrors concerns shared throughout the nation and some cities are beginning to address African immigrant healthcare issues. For examples, New York city, Minneapolis, Seattle, and Los Angeles have government health policies and funding that are specifically aimed at serving the Continental African Community (CAC). This needs assessment captures the policy "ingredients" for a culturally competent, developmentally appropriate, language specific healthcare services for Continental Africans with rationales for: 1) establishing collaborative relationships among community groups, researchers, and service providers in the County in particular and Maryland in general to design a comprehensive health services for the CAC; 2) improving understanding of the health and well-being of African immigrant families; 3) investigating status differences that contribute to the vulnerability and responsiveness to African immigrant experience in regards to health care services; and 4) identifying psychological and social factors that influence the physical and mental health outcomes in the CAC. Findings indicate that: 1. Generally, Continental Africans, even those with health insurance, rarely go for routine checkup or medical examinations until they fall sick. 2. African immigrant school-aged children may not receive dental care due to a combination of cultural perceptions, parental ignorance or lack of finances. For example, the family may assume that they are responsible for cleaning their child’s teeth and will not see any need for paying for preventive services. 3. Persons diagnosed with cancer or terminal diseases discover the fact at advanced stages – sometimes at stage III and IV. Some experience isolation due to abandonment, shame and/or depression and do not relate to mainstream support groups. 4. Because of cultural factors, participants (especially women) are uncomfortable discussing health matters (private body parts) in open forums. They prefer familiar, small settings and educating their members in the community through similar forums. 5. HIV/AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Diseases still carry social stigmas, which bring enormous disgrace to both the infected person and his or her affected family. Persons living with HIV/AIDS are more inclined to keep their status secret at the risk of knowingly transmitting the disease rather than use condoms. Sometimes it is ―ignorant vengeance.‖ For example, on Nov 30, 2007, the wake keeping for a Continental African, who was a Registered Nurse, was noted for 38 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration the urgent need for culturally relevant HIV/AIDS education and prevention programs in the CAC. The nurse deliberately had unprotected sex after knowing his AIDS status. He left a list of about 50 females with whom he had unprotected sex. 6. Most often than not, health alerts and health information that are disseminated through conventional methods do not reach the CAC. Recipients of health care messages are generally dismissive when they are healthy and strong. Also, numerous attempts to educate the general public or blacks regarding any form of disease and treatments may not break down barriers or defenses when information is embedded in American values, prompting persons, especially recent immigrants, to see it as ―American disease‖ and not consider themselves at-risk. 7. Children/care giver may limit direct presence in the hospital when their elderly parents/ relatives are hospitalized. This dodging attitude is to avoid liability for medical expenses. However, it deprives medical staff of background information that is useful to make informed diagnoses on patients who cannot communicate intelligently in English. 8. Generally, Continental Africans, even those with health insurance, rarely go for routine checkup or medical examinations until they fall sick. 9. African immigrant school-aged children may not receive dental care due to a combination of cultural perceptions, parental ignorance or lack of finances. For example, the family may assume that they are responsible for cleaning their child’s teeth and will not see any need for paying for preventive services. 10. Persons diagnosed with cancer or terminal diseases discover the fact at advanced stages – sometimes at stage III and IV. Some experience isolation due to abandonment, shame and/or depression and do not relate to mainstream support groups. 11. Because of cultural factors, participants (especially women) are uncomfortable discussing health matters (private body parts) in open forums. They prefer familiar, small settings and educating their members in the community through similar forums. HIV/AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Diseases still carry social stigmas, which bring enormous disgrace to both the infected person and his or her affected family. Persons living with HIV/AIDS are more inclined to keep their status secret at the risk of knowingly transmitting the disease rather than use condoms. Sometimes it is ―ignorant vengeance.‖ For example, on Nov 30, 2007, the wake keeping for a Continental African, who was a Registered Nurse, was noted for the urgent need for culturally relevant HIV/AIDS education and prevention programs in the CAC. The nurse deliberately had unprotected sex after knowing his AIDS status. He left a list of about 50 females with whom he had unprotected sex. 39 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration 12. Most often than not, health alerts and health information that are disseminated through conventional methods do not reach the CAC. Recipients of health care messages are generally dismissive when they are healthy and strong. Also, numerous attempts to educate the general public or blacks regarding any form of disease and treatments may not break down barriers or defenses when information is embedded in American values, prompting persons, especially recent immigrants, to see it as ―American disease‖ and not consider themselves at-risk. 13. Persons at-risk for heath crisis may rely on divine intervention or other superstitious beliefs that are promoted by a proliferation of unregulated ―prophet‖ personalities as opposed to seeking appropriate medical assistance and follow-up. For example, a relief from pains or symptoms may be attributed to the powers of the God’s ―anointed‖ preacher; not medical attention alone or at all. 14. Cultural beliefs about masculinity also affect health behaviors. Women are more likely to seek care and to engage in health-promoting activities, and it appears that they have more effective coping mechanisms and social support among women groups. Men are more likely to respond to stress by using alcohol, drugs and other self-destructive behaviors. MENTAL HEALTH AND CONTINENTAL AFRICANS Mental Health is not yet accepted as a normal occurrence; it carries social ―taboo‖ stigmas and sufferers do not seek medical help because they may not recognize the problem or do not want an official record of being ―crazy.‖ Here are some common and reoccurring conditions that contribute to mental health crisis in the CAC. 1. Cultural uprooted-ness and identity crisis - confusion between acculturation (adaptation) and assimilation (losing identity) in the American culture. 2. Drastic changes in the social environments – from close-knit, extended family and communal ties in African settings to a high level of individualism in America. 3. Socioeconomic challenges and family stress associated with separation of family, awaiting family reunion, etc. 4. Loss of social and economic status. For example, a university professor in Africa becoming a dishwasher on arrival in America. 5. Stress resulting from working multiple jobs (round the clock) due to the dual obligations of supporting families in the US as well as dependents in Africa. 6. Misdiagnosis of Continental Africans by mental health professionals due to cultural differences. 7. Resistance to voluntary entry into mental health institution because of the disrepute associated with any type of mental health circumstance. 8. Domestic breakup that carries dishonor of ―social failure‖ in the African culture. 40 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration 9. Rampant domestic violence/emotional abuse that is generally unreported KEY RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CONSIDERATION BY THE COUNTY EXECUTIVE AND DIRECTORS OF DEPARTMENT: Continental Africans work at every level in every field - from the hospitality, retail, construction, biotechnology, health care, and higher education sector as assets to our economy. The welfare reform in l996 denied legal immigrants the access to federally funded Medicaid, which affected thousands of African immigrants, especially the elderly and disabled. Failure to recognize and respond to the gab in health care services in the CAC will only make the general public less healthy with continued challenges to overwhelmed staff in the emergency rooms, and more costly crisis-oriented responses as opposed to the less expensive preventive health care. Therefore, when the County considers decisions to close disparities in health care, the health care agenda should give equitable weight to the dire need for the CAC to have access to culturally competent and language specific physical and mental health care services. The recommendations are: 1. Data Collection and List of Service Providers. The County should support data collection on Continental African patients and healthcare quality measurement and reporting strategies in order to better address Continental African patients' needs through the collection of data and use of existing performance data. Reporting comprehensible and usable healthcare quality information to service providers will improve public awareness of quality and motivate healthcare system change. Workgroup and conference recommendations are pragmatic and have implications for all entities interested in achieving better healthcare quality. These strategies should become priorities for policymakers, regulators, researchers, providers, and all other groups involved in Continental African healthcare quality measurement and reporting. A listing of indigenous Continental Africans physicians and allied heath practitioners should be created to facilitate ready access to service providers with cultural background and language competencies. 2. Targeted Outreach the African Immigrant Community on Heath Care and Immigrant Eligibility In order to successfully reduce the number of cost expensive health crisis, we need significant education and outreach to inform the CAC about possible options. In collaboration with health care advocates in the CAC and other service providers, the County should design user-friendly culturally sensitive, language specific and developmentally appropriate health care messages and use non-conventional outreach to present healthcare information in non-threatening environments. 41 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration 3. Providing Health Safety Net Services A stitch in time saves nine – the County should establish a model CAC Family Care Initiative (already in existence for Latino, Asian and African American communities) to serve as a one-stop Family Care Clinic. Summarily, the model program will provide an array of comprehensive primary and preventive services with flexible scheduling by bicultural staff. Here are the feasible services. Dental Men's Health Geriatrics Women's Health Social Services and psychosocial Children's Health Services, including support EPSDT evaluations for children Referrals for Specialty Services Internal Medicine WIC Program Certifications Gynecology Limited Laboratory Testing Family Planning Hypertension & Diabetes Clinics Childbirth/Parenting Classes HIV/AIDS Testing and Treatment Nutritional Assessments & Perinatal Case Management Counseling Outstation Patient Eligibility Services Risk Reduction Intervention Services Community Health Education Wellness and Fitness Immunization Hearing and vision screenings 4. Cultural-Linguistic Health Line A Cultural Linguistic Health Line will provide one-on-one information regarding existing health services in the County and how to access and obtain services. Culturally sensitivity and awareness training should be provided to county staff and service providers dealing with Continental African populations. In addition, the program will recruit and train culturally competent volunteers with the language fluency to serve as community peer educators for healthy living. Services may be delivered in partnership with hospitals, which will provide opportunities for resident physicians to receive clinical training and gain experience while providing valuable services in integrated, multidisciplinary team management of psychosocial problems affecting the health and safety of adolescents and children, such as family dysfunctions, malnutrition and inadequate living situations. 5. Continental African Coalition on HIV/AIDS Bring together personalities, entertainers, Continental African health advocates, business leaders, health care providers, community members and officials in concerted efforts to stop HIV/AIDS in the Continental African Community. Responding to the changing needs for HIV education, better prevention programs, capacity building for frontline 42 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration organizations and health departments, and advocating for better healthcare policies and funding should be prioritized in this crusade against HIV/AIDS. 43 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration Children Prepared to Live and Learn Background In July 2006, the Youth Education and Development Working Caucus (Caucus) began bi- monthly focus meetings on needs assessment and resource development. Since July 2007, on the last Friday of each month, the Caucus organizes a monthly ―Sleepover in Student World,” which includes – Girls’ Talk. The evening provides a creative outlet that encourages our youths to reflect on their development, share experiences both in and out of school, and provide assessments of their own learning. On Saturday October 27, 2007, coordinators attended parent workshops conducted by the George B. Thomas, Sr. Learning Academy, which operates a Saturday School and provides tutorials in Math and Reading to Montgomery County Public School students. The objective, as participant-observers, was to gain additional perspectives on the educational issues raised by Continental African parents. Coordinators also interviewed parents about their experiences with MCPS and their children’s extracurricular needs and activities. WHAT HAPPENS IN SCHOOL The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) calls for achievement data to be disaggregated to ensure that each demographic group is making Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) towards reading and mathematic proficiency by 2014. The Maryland Department of Education has added biology and government for graduation requirements. Disaggregated data is also required for class attendance or graduation rates, and the rate of participation in AYP tests. NCLB gives states the autonomy to include other disaggregated racial/ethnic data when 40 students or 10% of the enrollment is made up of students from a specific background. However, all students from African immigrant background, even if they migrated the previous day, are classified as Black/ African American for accountability purposes. Based on the Maryland Schools Assessments results, there is a stubborn achievement gap with African American students lagging behind the higher performing White and Asian peers. Since the data for Continental African students is not disaggregated, it is difficult to know if achievement gaps exist when compared with demographic groups that are meeting the Annual Measurable Objectives (AMO), which are incremental targets towards the 100% proficiency rate by 2014. With the obvious fact of African immigrant students transferring into MCPS from non- English speaking countries in Africa, there is particular concern with results that show English Speakers of Other Language (ESOL) students are not making academic progress relative to the AMO. This which presents a dilemma for 11th and 12th graders who need to be proficient in English Language Arts as a requirement for graduation and also use English as the language of content instruction in other subjects. 44 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration The Student: Findings indicate a student’s academic aptitude does not decline because of less English proficiency since there is considerable transfer of cognitive and academic skills across languages. For example, an ESOL student who excelled in social studies or sciences in comparable curricula when the language of instruction was Swahili, Amharic or French does not have to relearn the concepts or principles or acquire discrete skills all over again when instructions begin in English (Ada, 1988). Therefore, an ESOL student is not limited; he or she is faced with the potential of acquiring a second world language. The picture shows a student solving explaining algebraic equation in Amharic The student’s inability to express him/herself in spite of his or her academic abilities can be a source of frustration and irritation; not necessarily emotional problems that warrant the school system to offer psychological evaluation and psychiatric medications. Unfortunately, parents complain that schools have improperly advised testing for a learning disability – usually Attention Deficit Disorder. This legitimating function of assessments to look for a plausible clinical explanation why an immigrant student is not meeting academic standards relieves the teacher from his/her responsibilities to assist the student to make adequate progress in the least restrictive education setting. Also, when verbal-linguistic criteria are used for high stake tests that do not require English Language Arts proficiency, CAC students with limited English proficiency are unfairly penalized, which may also result in under-representation in magnet programs, in spite of the student’s cognitive abilities. Participants and Key Informants emphasized that whether a student transferred to the school system from Africa or was born in the US, students from the African immigrant background may be experiencing cultural dichotomy when teachers do not have the cultural competency training to understand and accommodate the usually distinctive African attributes. Each culture’s patterns of communication and meanings are conveyed in both verbal and non-verbal forms, which mean there may be different interpretations for the same behavior. For example, in the African culture, not looking an adult straight in the eye may be considered shyness or a sign of respect. However, a teacher may consider this as rudeness or low self-esteem. Thus, cultural differences may be misunderstood and Continental African students have been unfairly undermined or disciplined because of lack of understanding by the teacher. 18 County Schools are in ―Need of Improvement,‖ which means the schools, usually with a high population of Black, Hispanic and low-income students, are not making the Adequate Yearly Progress. Participants expressed the need for MCPS to be more open to Parental Choice in public education in order to provide parents with options when ―one-size fits all” is not the best approach to realize the academic potentials, and social and personal development of their children. 45 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration The Parent: The prerequisite to meaningful parental involvement is informed participation. Regardless of the background, parents are interested in the quality of education their child receives. However, 68 out of 80 parents who participated in the outreach forums and responded to surveys indicate that they do not understand what the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is supposed to specifically accomplish and parental rights granted by law. They lacked knowledge on: Title I of NCLB, which provides supplemental (additional) instructional service beyond the school day. Public or private organizations can provide the supplemental educational services but MCPS is responsible for providing a list of the educational providers for parents to choose from. The rarely or never happens and the options is non-existent when the child is under performing and regular intervention, including the Saturday school has not enabled the student’s improvements. Title II NCLB addresses question of highly qualified teachers. Most participants do not know the qualification of their children’s teachers. They believe it is not their legal right to know. Title III includes the roles and rights of parents and MCPS’ role to support ESOL students in mastering English; to help them meet the same high standards in all subjects; and to notify parents when their child has been assessed as needing ESOL services and all other related information; and to inform parents on the effectiveness or lack of effectiveness of the program. Most participants believe that these are services that schools voluntarily provide; not obligations that the school must comply with required by statutory regulation. Findings reveal general unawareness by parents of their due rights and effective use of supplemental services that their children’s school is obligated to provide by law. Low parental demand for services for their children may also be due to misinformation. It is generally assumed that the parents have the means to assist their children with homework and reading at home (reading to your child). However, what is not factored in is that an immigrant may have a PhD but cannot read and write in English at first grade level but the child needs help. Parents report unfortunate experiences when their African parenting approach is misunderstood for child negligence or abuse. This is alarming as it results in unnecessary embarrassments and alienation. During a forum with NAACP, a parent recalled her plight – she was accused by a social worker of invoking spirits and cursing her child because she demonstrated her frustrations with cultural gestures. 46 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration KEY RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CONSIDERATION BY THE COUNTY EXECUTIVE AND DIRECTORS OF DEPARTMENTS: 1. Data Collection and Holistic Intervention At the MCPS level, principals should be able to develop a simple means of having desegregated statistical data for Continental African students within the NCLB guidelines. The purpose is to know how and whether Continental African students are making adequate yearly progress and to provide targeted attention to the needs of students who are not meeting proficiency standards. Schools should conduct inventories of building-based teacher reform initiatives that focus on increasing diversity in competitive programs - for example community-based recruitment, student organizations, task force discussions, outreach programs to middle and high school students, retention programs. The schools should improve efforts to engage parents and the CAC in a two-way communication to gain understanding of the student’s background and take into account the student’s entire circumstances; not just the academic records, when planning intervention methods to improve academic outcomes. This will include examining the interrelatedness of academic performances, personal attributes, environmental, cultural, and linguistic factors that influence learning. Rationale: Culture and language affect the student’s learning and may inform the teaching methodology and intervention services. 2. Cultural Competency Training Schools should provide focused ways of assessing pre-service and in-service for teachers at various points in their professional development to ensure continued enhancement of the teachers’ skills to work with culturally and linguistically diverse student populations. Teachers and administrators should embrace their duty to help the student to acquire (add) a second language to his or her repertoire and to facilitate cultural adjustments (acculturalization) and not to expect the student to loss (subtract) his or her first language or cultural identity in a process that compels the student’s assimilation into the dominant culture. Rationale: Most often, generic policy statements require teachers to have cultural awareness. However, there are only few circumstances with specific requirements for cultural competence, which includes cultural competence as part of performance, outcome- based standards because determination of cultural competence is left to teacher training in cultural competence is largely done through specific courses offered by higher education institutions; and where outcome-based assessments (portfolios) are used, they are time- consuming, expensive and implementation is dependent on significant state funding. 47 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration 3) Cultural Inclusive Outreach and Curricula Are we making progress in educating the community in ways that connect with our diverse students with community leaders serving as models for all our students? These questions frame the guiding principles of cultural competence efforts Diversity is evolving beyond the traditional policies of ―counting‖ (only the quantity numbers) to polices that are focused on the inclusion and engagement of diverse people, voices and points of view in campuses (the quality of experience) in order to create and maintain learning communities that are conducive to learning for all students. On this frontline are teachers, staff and administrators who culturally competent educators. Examples of collaborative efforts include: Effective curricula and opportunities to educate ourselves about others so that the educational benefits of diverse environments can be realized (e.g., general education requirements, diversity in academic majors and minors, international study opportunities 3. Alternative Testing The policy already exists and schools should implement and monitor the use of alternative assessments measurements of the academic abilities of an ESOL student on non-English Language Arts subjects. Alternative assessment is by definition criterion-referenced because it measures specific skills in order to find out what a student knows and is able to do, which demonstrates mastery and progress. If the objective is not to test what the student knows in English, a child should not be failed on non-English Language subject because of his/her limited English while ignoring his/her academic abilities. 4. Parental / Community Notification and Participation The school system should organize specialized orientations, with language and cultural facilitators, for African immigrant parents. Sessions should cover: NCLB statutes and supplementary assistance due to students. Intercultural dialogues that allow parents to share their experiences and perspectives. The assessment process of ESOL students who have been suspected of having learning disability or reading deficiency. Civil Rights Statues that govern public education. Conflict Resolutions and Alternative Dispute Resolutions Processes. Parental workshops should have materials and interpreters for French, Swahili and Amharic as requested. Consistent with the NCLB, schools should diversify their site-based committees and PTA leadership to include parents of African immigrant background. The Superintendent should ensure that the Continental African Community (CAC) is included and represented in MCPS Advisory Committees, school and system-wide activities and special events. Public announcements should also be translated in French and Amharic, which are widely spoken in the CAC. 48 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration 5. Two-Way Adult Civic & Cultural Literacy The County should support out-come programs to educate parents, especially newcomers, on US laws that regulate children’s rights and court-enforceable agreement that requires schools and human services agencies to protect children from neglect or abuse. The County should also engage advocates to provide training to County staff and school leaders on African perspectives and communication with the goal of reducing incidences of misunderstood and mistaken cues that lead to wrongful accusations and arrest of parents. 6. Increase Parental Choice in Public Education The County and Board of Education should actively support Parental Choice in public education, including approving the applications of charter school developers who clearly meet the standards set by the Board of Education. Choice in public education will promote ―best practices‖ that have allowed other private sector entities to compete with the public sector. Parental Choice gives committed educators the tools to create mission-driven small learning communities (SLC) with school cultures and climates responsive to the needs of parents who exercised the choice. SLC fosters personal ingenuity and governance models with increased flexibility to offer personalized, student-centered education and to provide parents with assistance that are aligned with their child’s needs. THE VALUED-ADDED CUTTING EDGE EDUCATION Participants, including educators and classroom teachers, indicate that teachers who are motivated beyond the allure of money to teach are sometimes hindered by placements and inter-school transfers that are mismatches between the students’ needs and the teachers’ qualities. For teachers with the drive and compassion to do more, obligatory membership in unions kicks in and labor laws restrict the generosity of their time and commitment to assist students and parents. Lead coordinators interviewed teachers in private schools and findings indicate that in spite of the higher salaries offered in public schools and their highly qualified status, conscientious – the social commitment and moral satisfaction – is the top reason for their choice. These discussions were enhanced by reviews of Missed Opportunities, The New Teacher Project, which documented research to enable better understanding of policy barriers and innovative ways to improve on the status quo. Forum participants and survey respondents believe that in order to increase student achievements, especially for students with chronic low performances who obviously need tailored attention, sometimes the teacher’s attention is required beyond the call of traditional duty and regular counseling. KEY RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CONSIDERATION BY THE COUNTY EXECUTIVE AND DIRECTORS OF DEPARTMENTS 1) Developing a Culturally Competent Educators On this frontline are teachers, staff and administrators who culturally competent educators. Accordingly, the county should make intentional, sustained and broadly conceived 49 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration measures that are designed to make significant progress in cultural competence in schools such as: Improve the recruitment and retention of competent faculty and staff from Continental African community, where reasonable opportunity exists. Institute policies and initiatives that encourage inclusion and engagement of members of the Continental African community for school goals, such as evaluation of special programs, school leaders based on achievement. Create targeted initiatives to produce culturally competent K-12 teachers and administrators to train and retrain through required coursework in multiculturalism for future educators, assessment of cultural competence for initial licensure through work samples or portfolios. Collaborative efforts among educational sectors to leverage resources and facilitate statewide progress (e.g., developing common terms around cultural competence, communication tools to include websites, newsletters, statewide planning) 2) Management Competency The current labor rules, fashioned in the 1960s as valuable methods to address arbitrary management and mismanagement, served the critical need to promote quality public education. Over 80% of forum participants support the merits of collective bargaining and protections for teachers. Within these provisions, participants believe the County should recognize the need for new ways of thinking about innovative solutions that simultaneously maintain protection for teachers and empower school principals to staff personnel with the attributes that are best aligned with the needs of the student population. The practice of passing and circulating poor performing teachers around - from one school to the other – should be redressed by performance-based accountability; not rule-based accountability. Principals should be functionally entrusted with the means to evaluate and initiate dismissal proceedings for poor performance without being hindered by tactical maneuvers that do not address teaching and learning. The school doors should not necessarily close at the end of the formal day if teachers volunteer to assist students The County should make concerted efforts to collaborate on report data (K-12 enrollments, college graduates, applications to teacher preparation, completers, pass rates on teacher tests, school employment) to make informed assessment of progress in meeting a commitment to a more diverse, representative profession. 50 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration WHAT HAPPENS BEFORE AND AFTER SCHOOL Children learn dance and drumming at a school directed by Assane Konte, a Senegalese dancer and educator Among the developments that have occurred in the past 18 years in the CAC is the demographic change from a largely carefree single and student households to working families with dependent children. Children’s early experiences can have long lasting effect on their emotional, cognitive and social development. Research indicate that more than three quarters of children age five and below living with employed parents with incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty level spend considerable time with non-parents. The importance of quality and reliable care during these formative years is a concern in the CAC, particularly for low-income families. It is common for Continental African families to have their parents come to the US to take care of their grandchildren during these early formative years. Others make informal arrangements with unlicensed babysitters, and some parents send their children to live with their parents in Africa for a temporal period while they make necessary adjustments or transitions. Participants expressed the widespread anxieties of raising children in ―social permissive and morally loose‖ environments where they are exposed to eroding values. Statistics indicate that after the school doors close for the day, juvenile crime increases, especially between 3:00 to 6:00 PM when the students are most likely to be without adult supervision with plenty of time and leeway for mischief making; smoking; alcohol consumption; sexual escapades; gang activities. Students are also most likely to be victims of drug-driven shootings; car accidents; including joy rides. Currently, the County’s education outreach and funded youth initiatives, including gang prevention, do not include targeted outreach to, and services in, the CAC. Analysis of respondents’ feedback indicate that much of what parents know is embedded in popular myth and inconsistent with factual knowledge about the reality of gangs and there is need to a) have informed insights on the causes and symptoms of various factors that lure youths to gang membership; b) means for parents and institutions to share resources and sensitive the broader CAC; c) develop comprehensive continuum of service to minimize the chances of Continental African youths falling through the cracks and into the criminal justice. There is a growing trend of Continental African parents sending their children to attend schools in Africa - usually from middle to high school – to enable the child to gain socio- cultural competencies and obviously to avoid risky environmental influence. Community and faith-based leaders are emphasizing Youth Cultural Savings to establish and preserve 51 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration prevention, education, risk reduction and enrichment programming as the most powerful tool to prevent slides to juvenile crime; and to promote healthy behaviors and character development in nurturing environments where children are connected to caring adults during these critical, after-school hours and on weekends. Passing on Cultural Heritage to Children Passing on ancestral traditions and customs to their children is becoming more and more important to most African immigrants. Parents are concerned that children born or raised here will grow up to be part of the melting pot of dominant American Born and raised in the USA - Ethiopian youth soccer team. Photoo by culture.(Aluko et al 1997) Mekonnen Ayele KEY RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CONSIDERATION BY THE COUNTY EXECUTIVE AND DIRECTORS OF DEPARTMENTS: 1. Full Start: ―There is an accumulating body of suggestive evidence that Head Start is capable of generating long-term benefits and passes a benefit-cost test" (p.16). According to the authors, the next step is to continue research seeking to determine where further investment in early childhood education and care should be made. The issue is not if investments should be made, but rather "how, how much, and how soon" (17) to invest6.” As more parents of children enrolled in Head Start join the workforce, the demand for full- day, full-year early childhood services will continue to increase in the CAC. This is the reality for working families and a ½ day for the school year does not work for the majority of families. The County should create partnerships with licensed center-based care providers and use an integrated model to deliver comprehensive childcare and family support services. In this approach, childcare providers will provide full-day, full-year services to Head Start- eligible children, which will create a seamless system of comprehensive services for low- income children and their families. Every child enrolled in the program can receive both Head Start and childcare services. Forming partnerships maximizes funding and cost- effectiveness to meet parents’ changing needs; improves the quality of services; and increases the number of children served. 6 The Benefits and Cost of Head Start," a recent article by Jens Ludwig (U. of Chicago) and Deborah Phillips (Georgetown 52 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration 2. Expand 4-K Options. The County should increase the number of current preschool service providers and provide commensurate support to meet the higher standards associated with the concept of pre- kindergarten. This implies not in public schools only, but to include childcare centers, charter schools, if any. To address the issue of quality, the County should set the same high standards for class size and curricula; early childhood education credentials; and professional development necessary to operate the program. The County should engage community experts in planning in order to create a collaborative climate for success, allocate sufficient funds (per child) to achieve a high-quality program, and ensure funds are additive (not replacing child care or Head Start or existing education dollars). 3. Align Childcare With Cost The market rate of quality childcare will not guarantee childcare quality but the cost is incidental in making quality child care possible. To create the possibilities, the County’s commitment to youth development should include means for low and middle-income families to access quality childcare through rate subsidies and sliding scales that address the dilemma of parents who are caught between not being poor enough to qualify and not rich enough to afford private child care. A cycle of emotional and health risk begins when children born to undocumented parents cannot have access to quality childcare. Eventually, the County will still bear the cost of the pathologies associated with children-at risk for social and academic failures. The County should provide proactive and social preventive assistance that allows children to receive childcare regardless of the status of their parents. That would be ―Equity Start‖ for all Montgomery County children. 4. Youth Programming: Prevention, Education; Enrichment, Risk-reduction -PEER Youth education and development requires more than demonstrated knowledge of a specific subject; it also involves the engagement of youths as co-creators of their futures by acquiring habits of the mind – those attitudes that enable holistic growth and achievements with the understanding that our actions have consequences. This civic literacy helps to produce the next generation to meaningfully participate in supporting and renewing our civil and social structures that build vital communities and maintain a viable democracy. Accordingly, the County should support after-school CAC programs that provide Developmental Assets, Risk and Protective Factors services. Developmental Assets programs address building blocks that help youths to cultivate their social-emotional intelligence and moral values and to use enrichment activities, cultural classes and life- skills workshops to make effective adjustments becoming of conscientious and responsible members of society. Risk and Protective Factors will enhance the CAC capacity to implement prevention and intervention programs that assist youths to avoid risky choices such as co-factors for academic failure; teenage pregnancy; juvenile delinquencies; and to make transitions from unhealthy behaviors. 53 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration 5. Preventing by Redressing the HIV/AIDS. Working with community organizations, the county should support innovative HIV/AIDS prevention through culturally relevant and developmentally appropriate outreach and education programs. Youths need special assistance to become conscious of risks for HIV/AIDS and how to prevent them. Education and communication programs must not only offer information on risk-avoidance skills as well, such as abstinence, delayed sexual debuts or safe sex with sex partners. Youths should receive HIV/AIDS education even before children become sexually active. HIV/AIDS Service organizations and providers and health care providers must do more to make young people feel welcome and comfortable. Services, including treatment of STIs and voluntary HIV counseling, testing, and referral, should be provided with cultural sensitively. Most programs for youth work better when young people help plan and run them and programs must also find effective ways to recruit young mentors and adults who can influence young people's choices. Rationale: The AIDS epidemic is complex, and thus only a combination of culturally inclusive and developmentally appropriate approaches can succeed and it is imperative that youths must be at the center of strategies to curb the incidence of HIV/AIDS infection. Cultural, psychological, and social attributes of African youths make this target population particularly vulnerable to HIV and other sexually transmitted infections when they do not understand the extent of their exposure to risk. This is often compound when avoidance of sexual discussions make it difficult for them to learn about HIV/AIDS and reproductive health yet they are socially inexperienced and dependent on others. Also, peer pressures easily ―to be cool” or ―to fit in” influence them—often in ways that can increase their risk. Therefore a combination of innovate education and outreach are needed to reach this normally hard-to reach young people. Recent declines in incidence of HIV/AIDS in a few countries, accompanied by signs that young people are changing their risk-taking behavior, are best indicators of that concerted actions work. 54 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration Matching Words with Action: Here is model program developed by the Youth Education and Development Caucus to address the holistic development of young females. Support2Girls UCanBAMentor Is a K12 hands-on role modeling How it Works. Compassionate, cultured, dedicated ladies serve as developmentally appropriate and culturally mentors to a teenage Continental African female. Mentors provide relevant program that incorporates moral psychosocial safety nets such as big sister care, mom's counsel, values, character development, social, cultural, best aunt confidante to help the young lady with career preparation, spiritual and educational growth, a village affirm her self worth, encourage her self-esteem, moral virtues, approach to raising children, with motherly care personal development, which are foundational for her holistic to guide our young female children to development – academically, socially and personally. experience a nurturing environment that will enable them to develop the internal motivation Why Support Continental Girls? Teenage girls constitute a to make informed positive choices and create growing category in the juvenile justice system. Through the moral their own opportunities for success because cracks, they fall with vices such as substance abuse, repeated they have experienced the values of success offenses, pregnancies, prostitution, and run with wayward through hands-on examples from adult mentors. companies to doomed chances. With the growing Continental African Community Abroad, the wholesome and more effective Our innovative activities are “building blocks” village concept of raising children as "Everybody's Child" is that will help our girls to create positive goals strained by socioeconomic pressures, generational differences, and objectives for themselves, which are linked overwhelmed parents and relatives, and pervasive environmental to social competency, moral reasoning, influences with counter academic skills, healthy self-confidence, cultures. Continental exposure to new options, and increased African girls caught in understanding and appreciation of people and the vicious cycle the environment. Our children will actively face compound engage and plan age-appropriate projects that problems of cultural exemplify their goals and objectives, and apply dichotomies in their skills in school and community life. America. Brightening Camp Friday When girls at risk do not have steady, On a Friday of each month, our girls come positive together and sleep-over – an evening of reinforcements but recreational and interactive learning that explore enough traumatic a theme and topic on MAKE IT: Morals; experiences, they become suspicions, with scars from exploitations Abilities; Knowledge; Enrichment: Individuals & and fears of abandonment. They seek something to fill the voids. Teams to: Unfortunately but understandably, in their needs to belong, they Express their needs and share their chose the wrong and risky methods and negate attempts at knowledge. constructive interactions. It may take someone who cares to listen to Learn and apply their skills toward a steer her on the right path. That’s where your support and societal goal and objectives. benefits factor: give them positive influences to be valued and Foster the mental, social, and physical functional. Let us make it Everybody's Business, a County Affair. welfare and cultural integrity of participants. Above is Miss Africa International 2005 with a Youth Education and Nurture inner beauty, personal Development Platform confidence and physical grooming. Reinforce positive lessons learnt in real life situations. Saturday Co-curricula rd th Exemplify risk-reduction values. Domestic Sciences: Girls from 3 through 5 grades. th th Encourage collaboration and goodwill Home Economics: Girls from 6 through 10 grades th th among participants and patrons. Independent Living Sciences: 11 and 12 grade girls And Girls Talk! 55 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration Strong and Vibrant Economy BUSINESS AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT About 15 years ago, most thriving Continental African businesses were mostly family- based ventures in areas of high immigrant population concentration like Takoma Park, Langley Park and Silver Spring. Restaurants, grocery stores, traveling agencies and the use of traditional skills like hair braiding, childcare services, tailoring, or dressmaking were initial domains. The entrepreneurial drive evolved to a growing number of physicians, lawyers, real estate, insurance brokers and accountants opening practices. Part of the success is due to the self-supporting business acumen they developed at home and the traditional forms of rotating savings and credit associations among members. Today, based on the African Yellow Pages published annually, Continental African owned and managed businesses are increasingly diversified, from computer technology and networking, construction, shipping, pharmaceutical, transportation to import-export companies. The County’s business sector with a large immigrant component, are vital aspects of the economy, especially in neighborhood commercial districts. The viability and quality of these businesses contribute to the County’s success in creating jobs, stabilizing neighborhoods, maintaining and improving the physical environment. In the international domain, the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) is a United States Trade Act that significantly enhances U.S. market access for (currently) 39 Sub-Saharan African countries. Notably, these include items such as apparel and footwear, wine, certain motor vehicle components, a variety of agricultural products, chemicals, steel and others. On December 20, 2006, President signed into law key changes to AGOA, extending the garment provisions to 2012. AGOA builds on existing U.S. trade programs by expanding the (duty-free) benefits. It supports U.S. business by creating stronger markets and more effective partners for U.S. firms, which include small to medium businesses. However, findings indicate that small to medium firms in the County are usually shut out of trade and business opportunity forums when the costs of attendance are prohibitively high. Hence, small and medium entrepreneur are seldom included in international trade missions. The access and benefits are reaped by large multinational and multilateral corporations. On December 2, 2006, the Continental African Business Caucus organized an information and exchange meeting between Continental African business owners and the Maryland Governor’s Office on Minority Business. Held at the Montgomery County Department of Economic Development, Mr. Jorge Austrich, Director of Minority Business Development, represented the Governor’s office. Participants included the Director of the loan department and a regional technical resource staff for business development. Attendants discussed barriers facing small business owners, minority business certification process, opportunities for entrepreneurial development, and the need for a strengthened and active Continental African Chamber of Commerce to facilitate timely dissemination of 56 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration information, networking and resource development, and improved accessed to opportunities. In 5 subsequent meetings on needs assessments, interviews with business owners, walkthroughs to understand the perspectives of the owners, and feedback from financiers, the following finding are summarized to highlight the barriers faced by Continental African business owners and managers: 1. There may be considerable need and opportunity to expand market growth and market share that enhance business viability and profits. However, the lack of venture or seed finance, and difficulties in obtaining reasonable financing from local banks, often due to lack of established track records, hinder abilities to take advantage of business opportunities. 2. Business owners or prospective entrepreneurs may not be familiar with issues relating to the availability of financial resources in order to develop competent business strategies for application. For example, entrepreneurs need to understand the different implications of financing infrastructure projects, where the focus is high level of capital and strong government guarantees, and the financing of smaller-scale operations, where the entrepreneur is more interested in raising the initial capital and working capital. 3. Small business owners suffer from inadequate managerial training and knowledge to maintain compliance with industry standards and regulations pertinent to their industries. Some serve niche markets that generate modest income, which puts a limit on their ability to gain the exposure and resources in spite of the potential and opportunity to do so. Coupled with little or no strategic business plans, businesses have closed down. 4. Most training and technical assistance are typically generalized on business planning, access to capital, accounting, etc. Experiences indicate that when training and assistance are presented in generalized formats, it is challenging for small business owners, more so for immigrant merchants, to benefit from the discourse. 5. Relative unawareness of the value of establishing a strong collective business presence in order to fully maximize participation in existing opportunities; business consultations; access to high prized information and associations; and international trade missions. Without adequate networks and capacity to organize effective ways that promote common business interests and success, business owners are often uninformed about business climate and opportunities, and excluded from the larger business landscape. 6. Surveys indicate that Continental African women start businesses for reasons that may depart from their male counterparts. While men start businesses primarily for growth opportunities and profit potential, meeting personal goals of independence, achievement and accomplishment feature as great motivators for women. Financial success becomes an external confirmation of their abilities; not the prime factor, although financial profitability is accorded importance in its own right. Continental African women usually focus on food, real-estate, fashion and mainly service-oriented businesses. They experience pockets of 57 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration skeptical reactions in branching out to production/manufacturing enterprises and have less opportunity for business networking and marketing in spite of their aspirations, talents and demonstrated knack for creating and growing small business. 7. The Continental African business community is not targeted for business development; not included in outreach by the county; and not accounted for in required minority services or contracts. Consequently, they face greater difficulties getting government contracts than do their other minority counterparts. 8. Trade attaché attaches and counselors at African embassies have relative low contacts with the County, when compared with other regions such as Asia, etc. to realize the potentials of international trade and exchanges. 9. Special problems exhibited by small sole proprietors: General Unawareness: Some business owners have little or no knowledge of the role of government as a regulator as well as a friendly enabler of business development. Economy of Scale: Overhead costs and low volume of production drive up the price of the good and services, resulting in lack of competitiveness from established businesses that provide similar services or new entrants into the market to serve same ethnic-oriented clienteles. Displacement: CAC businesses in commercial and neighborhood business face threats from increased commercial rents and/or hostile reactions to immigrants in the neighborhood. The businesses may be forced to move, which results in loss of customer base. Some businesses are forced to close down because of the displacement. KEY RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CONSIDERATION BY THE COUNTY EXECUTIVE AND DIRECTORS OF DEPARTMENTS Participants and Key Informants used the "pillar" analogy to depict policies that are seen as the cement that holds the pillars of business operations together and serves as the foundation for growth. Pillar 1. Business Policies and Regulations: The CAC business sector should be aware of activities relating to the regulatory and legal framework governing the investment and business environment. This can be accomplished through organized forums and briefings with CAC business owners. The County’s Economic and Business development department should include the CAC business sector in its outreach and for consultative inputs in policy development. 58 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration Pillar 2: Training and Business Development. Specialized and Customized Development Services: The businesses owners often need more specialized assistance related to their own industry and/or to address more specialized access barriers. For example, attention should also be paid to the unusual but thriving ―mom and pop‖ business acumen of Continental African business owners who have developed considerable skills and customer base but lack the finance to operate reliably, effectively or to expand. Few examples include clothing/apparel, data processing, beauty, hair care and cosmetic services, food services that are sometimes operated from homes. Financing: Financing programs should focus on addressing seed funding and expanding capital with some add-on management assistance. The County should encourage contracts to "Very Small Businesses" and "Graduating Small Businesses" by assessing credit awarded under Small Business Contracting/ Small Business Subcontracting Plans. To steer small businesses from the path of becoming victims of their own success by quickly graduating out of the small business program, the County should provide incentives to prime contractors for the use of "Very Small Business" firms and also "Graduating Small Business" firms. Gentrification and Displacement: The County should consider financing packages that help merchants to acquire building and incentives that encourage allocation of space to small businesses in new developments. Accounting for CAC Business Development: The County should delineate and provide the percentage of business contracts to the Continental African Community in its annual report on business development in the County. Pillar 3: Capacity Building and Market Growth Structured Support: Some business ventures may need countywide outreach to operate. The County should work with, and support, business associations that bring together CAC business owners to organize and coordinate activities. This will enable business owners to discover and discuss common concerns and organize cooperative efforts to address them. It will also create forums where business owners can net-work, identify new possibilities, and incorporate best practices that stimulate business interactions, including relations with the County. Technical Assistance for Expansion. Most small Continental African owned and managed businesses falter because they do not have the technical guidance and resources for expansion. The County’s technical assistance department should provide sustained engagement with the businesses, for one to two years and customized business forums to address industry-specific expertise. This assistance could be a choice advisory role to work closely with entrepreneurs over time to assess needs and provide the right assistance. Pillar 4). Investment Promotion Forums In light of the considerable elements of government/business sector interaction that is necessary for business development, the County should play the vital role of promoter and facilitator of 59 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration business initiatives. Through government/business sector co-operation and co-ordination, the County should undertake activities and missions to facilitate and enhance CAC business activities in the County as well as Montgomery County-Africa Trade. On the other hand, business operators put significant value on networking at high levels, and also on the ability to get practical and valuable information from decision makers and industry leaders. Trade and Business Forums will provide a working environment for decision-makers and business executives to interact to discuss both macro-economic issues and the and nuts-and-bolts operating issues that will 1) offer "learning" opportunities to African and Montgomery County investors; 2) raise awareness about CAC business sector; and 3) introduce a generation of business leaders from a broad variety of professions in order to widen their circle of contacts; 4) foster business information exchange where members can advise and educate each other regarding innovative ideas and business opportunities. Safe Streets and Secure Neighborhoods POLICE RELATIONS Collaboration between law enforcement and the CAC remains a call for concern. This goes beyond racial profiling to the ethnic context of misunderstanding cues, which sometimes result in unjustified arrests and the shooting deaths of African immigrants. For example, a recent immigrant may not understand ―freeze‖ and may move with hand gestures towards the police officer when an order is not understood. On March 12, 2005, at Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, former County Executive Doug Duncan, his key staff and neighboring Prince George’s County Executive Jack Johnson met with the community in a town hall meeting to address and enhance community relations following the police shooting death of a recently arrived young Continental African from Cameroon, Mr. Peter Njang, and the protests that ensued. The session was broadened from improving police relations to presentations and exchange on issues germane to the welfare of the community and how to access regional services. Four CAC forums have been held to discuss public safety issues. Participants offered varied perspectives and identified several topics, with the following top concerns: racial profiling and ethnocentrism - different traditions of policing, language barriers, and cultural differences. Julius Oben, the lead coordinator, was the relative of Mr. Njang and he provided personal insights on how affected and bereaved families cope in the aftermath of shooting deaths. KEY RECOMMENDATION FOR CONSIDERATION BY THE COUNTY EXECUTIVE AND DIRECTORS OF DEPARTMENTS: 1. Cultural Sensitivity Training for Police Officers and Staff: The County should develop and implement a mandatory comprehensive cultural and sensitivity training on African 60 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration immigrant experiences. The County may collaborate with CAC organizations to develop a suitable cultural and sensitivity training curriculum, which will include audio visual explanations of different African cultural perspectives and homeland experiences with police. 2. Community Relations: The CAC has a role to play in improving relationships between constituents and the County’s police department in order to maintain general public safety. Our organizations stand ready to assist in these efforts through reciprocal exchanges to enhance mutual cooperation. For example, the CAC should be invited to participate in task forces, advisory groups or commissions that address public safety and the police department should respond to invitations to participate in CAC community meetings on safety issues. 3. Hiring of officers from the CAC: Recruiting and hiring officers from the CAC is an invaluable way to building trust, enhance community policing and to facilitate working with limited-English proficient witnesses and victims. 4. Deployment of Bicultural/Bilingual Officers: When feasible, officers with bicultural African background should be deployed to neighborhood with a large concentration of Continental Africans and to respond to crisis when it can be determined that the alleged culprit or victim is a Continental African. The intent is to facilitate communications and to avoid shootings/arrests that are misinformed by cultural differences. 61 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration Vital Living for All of Our Residents 1. IMMIGRATION AND INTEGRATION 4a. Immigration reform must recognize Africans & their contributions Immigration has always contributed significantly to the economic and social 17% fabric and prospects of America and Montgomery County. Highly skilled Somewhat Important Very Important immigrants and temporary workers are 83% vital in supporting the development of the 21st century knowledge-based economy as they provide solutions to skills shortages, and foster the County’s international trade, commercial and cultural ties with the countries of origin of its immigrant population. By and large, these visible expressions underpin our collective identity as stakeholders in the County. There is a misconception that immigration is a federal issue only. This position is wrong and obscures frank discussions because the County and municipalities have options to formulate autonomous policies. These policies affect access to health care; housing, including landlord-tenant relationship; school enrollment, including tuition rates; public safety and policing, etc. Participants believe that on the table of diversity, we can incorporate the major concerns and priorities of different ethno-demographic groups to build a tolerant and a livable community with secured neighborhoods on the foundation of mutual understanding and respect. When the community and government recognize the value of fostering a sense of acceptance and belonging among people, stakeholders willingly invest in several dimensions with equitable opportunities to promote growth and prosperity in the County. As an immigrant community, participants in the surveys and public forums believe that the CAC should be conversant with the issues and participate in dialogues that affect the integration of immigrants as New Americans in the society. In order to facilitate integration and maximize the contributions of newcomers, systemic economic and social integration services are essential to enable constituents to understand their rights and responsibilities in their new community. This two-way integration and accommodation correlates with stabilizing principles within the fabric of democratic societies. Participants and respondents, particularly business operators – both Continental Africans and non-Continental Africans - noted that research into migrants’ experience are mostly focused on the (supply side) and not equally focused on the business perspective (the demand side). Discussants highlighted the paradox of a labor market displaying significant unfilled demand for high skilled labor, but which also contains numerous highly qualified and experienced immigrants who remain unemployed or underemployed. Findings show that factors such as English language skills, local work experience and qualification recognition are seen by business to be important potential barriers to entry into the job market by recent, highly skilled immigrants. Adaptations in the labor market mechanisms 62 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration and attitudes are required to take full advantage of the benefits brought by new Continental African migrants. It is critical to provide information, communication and training to companies about the skills and benefits migrants can bring in helping to meet their strategic Human Resource needs. CAC organizations provide services that address the holistic needs of its immigrant population, especially newcomers and the elderly population. However, due to lack of adequate funding, these formal and informal efforts are inadequate to cannot meet the multifaceted demands of the growing community. The CAC has continuously relied on Latino and Asian programs to derive some benefits. The problem is compounded with the fact that neither the Latino/Asian programs nor Gilchrist Center for Multicultural Diversity can address the holistic needs of CAC clients, especially elderly immigrants, when they speak only indigenous, non-official languages and require a continuum of services from cultural sensitive approach, with social guides and follow-ups that can best be offered with practical and more informal interactions. Numerous sad cases exemplify the plight of constituents who do not have timely, reliable information and assistance as they become frustrated, desperate and vulnerable to exploitative situations. The dilemmas include unscrupulous lawyers, landlords, employers, and ―prophets/apostles‖ operating unregulated churches – all taking advantage of anxious, frightened, depressed, uninformed or defenseless CAC immigrants. Some lawyers or quasi legal operators bilk new immigrants out of their savings and do not offer the promised services. A ―prophet‖ may require 10% of the income as tithe to cast out the ill-luck, make it possible to find a husband or wife (for women and women who seek such); pray for dream jobs for the unemployed and other manners deceptions to keep hope and church coffers afloat. 83% of respondents “Strongly Agree” and 17% “Somewhat Agree” that integration is a high priority in the CAC and the CAC should actively participate in public education, advocacy and New American Coalitions to promote better understanding on issues relating to the immigrant community and to provide direct services to constituents. KEY RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CONSIDERATION BY THE COUNTY EXECUTIVE AND DIRECTORS OF DEPARTMENTS: 1. A Pathway Program The County should support the establishment of a model CAC pathway program that serves as a resource center to provide the essential skills and tools that CAC immigrants need to access employment and to achieve economic independence. Related services should include language training, civic and citizenship classes, pro-bono legal services, mentoring assistance, translation services, and a user-friendly, culturally inviting ―welcome center‖ that serves as point of contact that new immigrants can use to negotiate access to other vital services in the County. 63 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration Rationale: In order to achieve effective integration, programs and services are necessary to develop the multi-sectoral capacity to assist constituents through a settlement continuum that begins with information to immigrants through orientation and adaptation services, to acquisition of citizenship with the ultimate goal of integration as full and equal participants in the economic, social, civic and cultural life of the County. 2. Protecting Civil Liberties Departments, agencies, commissions, officers and employees of the County should be educated on the rights of immigrants and specifically prohibited from asking about immigration status unless required by statute. This should expressly include situations where individuals are seeking emergency services, city services, or police services. The policy and practice should have mechanism for implementation and should contain a) uniform standards on how the policy and procedures will be implemented by various agencies; b) information about what remedies are available to immigrants when the policy and procedures are violated. These rights should be clearly articulated and also translated and sensitized in French, Swahili and Amharic due to the significant number of new CAC immigrants who do not speak English. The County can work with committed, experienced and reliable CAC leaders and organizations to facilitate presentations of these vital rights to constituents through formal and informal networks. Rationale: Understanding of one’s civic liberties is the bedrock of our democracy. Communicating these civic liberties requires outreach, but outreach is not just the process; it requires engagement of the target population in a language and mode of communication that they understand in order to improve validation and reception of the message. 3. Integrating Skilled Workers The County should streamline the process of translating the credentials of professional and skilled workers, and provide refresher training to enable them to meet the County’s professional standards in order to facilitate re-entry and advancement within specific industries. Programs for high skilled new immigrants may include employability components such as: skills and education assessment; intensive/accelerated English; preparation for licensure exams; technical language and work place communications; internships. Rationale: Reducing structural unemployment (not working in the field of one’s training) provides the County with a skilled labor that may address the shortage of the same skills relative to industry demand. It also removes residents from dependency on public welfare to self-sufficiency. Initiatives that promote case management approach, from intake assessment, ongoing support throughout the training and follow-up, have been shown to best meet the needs of skilled immigrants. The overriding intention is to assist high skilled CAC immigrants to make successful integration into the County’s socioeconomic mainstream through effective use of their professional abilities. 64 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration Model Policy on Integration In 2005, Governor Blagojevich of Illinois signed the landmark ―New American Executive Order‖ to create The Office of New Americans Policy and Advocacy, which is tasked with coordinating policies and programs to help newcomers fully assimilate in their new communities, and to provide more and better services. The first of its kind in the nation, Illinois aims to help immigrants enter the mainstream more effectively and quickly. This could be becoming proficient in English, aiming for public office, buying a home, or serving the County in a myriad of ways. Maryland Department of Labor Secretary Tom Perez is leading a work group, which is tasked with preparing recommendations for Governor O’Malley’s consideration for immigrant integration services. The recommendations, modeled after the Illinois Governor’s Executive Order, will be known as the Maryland New Americans Initiative. We urge County Executive Leggett to support the progressive examples to guide the County’s response to immigration and integration. Rationale: The recommendations, aimed at comprehensive immigrant integration, are founded on the belief that immigrants are economic assets in the County. But it requires vision and moral courage to educate and lead public and private institutions to recognize that being proactive and inclusive in policy making is a cost effective way to help immigrants succeed, build social cohesion throughout the County, promote a sense of shared aspiration and security, and serve as an enlightened guide to the rest of Maryland and the nation 2. VULNERABLE POPULATIONS: THE ELDERLY AND VICTIM OF TRAFFICKING 1. The Elderly The issues associated with the elderly population are fairly new developments in the CAC. While some are long time citizens, the rapid growth in our elderly population is due to the increase in the number of refugee / asylum migrants who came to the US in their 50s or 60s. They are also a number of elderly residents who came to the US under the sponsorship of non-family members. 36 out of 40 elderly Continental Africans who participated in surveys expressed the need to continue living independently with vibrancy and dignity. Elderly African immigrants, who do not live with their children as the common traditional practice, are more vulnerable when they do not have the psychosocial outlets and cultural network for support. In spite of well-appreciated activities offered in the senior centers, loneliness is still a common problem when they cannot adjust to the environment due to cultural and communication gaps, even to unfamiliar food. From a cultural point, putting a parent in a nursing or group home is an unacceptable decision. A majority of chronically ill and disabled seniors live at home with assistance from family members, home-health agencies and assertive technology or home modifications. 65 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration Findings indicate that recent elderly migrants living on their own do not have the economic cushions to rely on at this critical transitional point of their lives when public funding runs out. Some reported being abused by their former sponsors. Their skills are under-utilized, they work below their level of qualifications in low paying and sometimes in dangerous jobs – relative to their age, and they experience extreme difficulties in making successful integration in American mainstream activities. They are more likely than the rest of the population to live in low-income neighborhood, sometimes in unconventional rental arrangement. This vulnerable population has reduced access to health care and does not usually participate in the regular social and civic activities. In the long run, increased social stratification may take emotional and psychological tolls. 2. Immigrant Victims of Trafficking Estimates indicate that 50,000 women and children are trafficked into the United States each year and undetermined number of men. Persons can seek federal immigration relief through the T-Visa program but with only 230 T visa certifications approved in fiscal year 2005, it shows that the cases can be very difficult to identify. Individuals usually work in non-voluntary conditions as domestic servants and in prostitution. KEY RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CONSIDERATION BY THE COUNTY EXECUTIVE AND DIRECTORS OF DEPARTMENTS: Coordinated Outreach For Elderly. On the elderly, key policy considerations should facilitate access to health and human services, which should reflect the specific needs of elderly African immigrants. This may include inter-agency collaboration and the use of indigenous community-based organizations to provide pathways for the elderly population to lead dignified, independent lives and progress through ―successful or productive aging,‖ with autonomy over their own affairs. At the center of programs should be social, cultural and promotion activities, and successful interventions that reduce isolations; manage physical, emotional and social changes; and address the onset of chronic illnesses. The Administration should support programs such as educational outreach, employment training and legal resources that assist trafficking victims to regain their dignity, safety and to make transition from the mental health trauma that they may be experiencing. 3. ARRESTING DOMESTIC ABUSE & VIOLENCE Unique Issues No Recourse: Women without status subject to the marriage rule When Continental African women who are dependent on their spouse for their legal status experience domestic violence during this period, because of their immigration status, their 66 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration rights are non-existence and they are kept ignorant of procedures to gain access to legal protection, safety and support. Relatives and friends may be extremely reluctant to intervene because they do not want to be ―caught in the middle‖ of what is euphemistically called ―palaver between man and woman‖ or seen to be indoctrinating the newly arrived woman with American values, which will influence her to “run away.‖ Local providers find it difficult to offer space to women with uncertain immigration status because providers rely on rent income from public housing benefits to operate the battered women shelters. Even if they do get emergency space, the victims do not always have the financial means to meet their basic living expenses. These conditions force women into total dependence and submission to the sponsoring spouse. When the husband is negligent, women with young children to care for do not have any form of support with childcare and cannot seek for redress because of their status. General Population: Emerging Trends to Redress Domestic violence against Continental African women occurs regardless of the legal and economic status. Feelings of fear, guilt, shame and humiliation are common to all abused women regardless of ethnic background but Continental African women experience additional language, cultural or social constraints and the risk of being treated with ridicule for having 'failed' in their relationships. The state of helplessness is more pronounced when there are dependent children who become emotional victims in a dysfunctional home. The strong moral desire not to be a single mother and the social need to have a husband or maintain relationship with a boyfriend usually compel maltreated Continental African women to put up with many black eyes, bruised faces and more in abusive relationships that are obviously detrimental to their own physical, emotional and mental welfare. Even when there are no restrictions on obtaining employment, some women in violent relationship are fired from their jobs due to the physical and mental torture that have impacts on their work attendance and job performances but they cannot share the ―secrets‖ with their company or seek official counseling. First of all, Continental African men would consider counseling to be an unmanly, silly and offensive idea. Formal marital counseling is hardly practiced in African cultures and settings. Informal interventions by respected elders are usually the means to resolve relationship matters. Murder: Brutal murder by husbands, boyfriends and relatives has become more frequent, a pathology that was unthinkable in the Continental African Community (CAC) a few years back. But after the initial shock and sensations, there are no concerted measures to address the plight of prospective victims. Battery: Generally, the African culture does not frown on spousal battery when there is no disabling injury. Some women see it as a manifestation of love to be beaten. Out of ignorance of the American legal system, Continental African men, especially new immigrants, have been known to tell the court, “I have the right to beat my wife.‖ Although battery is more common and reported, violent incidents that are serious enough to require 67 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration hospitalization, emergency room care or a doctor's attention are not followed up with support because women drop the case and refuse to testify for the prosecution. Sexual Assault: It is still culturally incomprehensible for Continental African women to report that they are victims of rape or attempted rape by their spouse or boyfriend. Therefore, sexual assault by someone with whom a woman is having a sexual relationship is considered non-reportable based on the disbelief and public ridicule this may cause. Emotional / Psychological Abuse: Respondents gave insights into the threats - “Without me you are nothing; you are not up to standards; I brought you to America; no other man will want you; after having children who will marry you?‖ are common catch phrases that Continental African men use to emotionally and psychologically disable and reduce the woman’s self-esteem in order to hold the woman in mental bondage. Sometimes, husbands or boyfriends forbid their wives, fiancées or girlfriends from socializing or prevent the women from furthering their education. Some women are forced into careers (especially nursing, regardless of the woman’s disinterest) because it guarantees income for the household. Getting a recently arrived wife, fiancée or girlfriend pregnant in rapid succession is another method used, especially by older men, to hold a woman in psycho- emotional captivity out of fear that the woman will leave the relationship after having becoming economically independent. Focus Action: There is no official statistics specific to victims of domestic violence in the CAC. Despite their competitive qualifications, Continental African women are not proportionately represented in every aspect of leadership and are particularly vulnerable in these five areas: 1) economic dependency, especially new immigrants; 2) inadequate networking avenues and resource; 3) lack of culturally sensitive services and little or no contextual understanding from service providers and the legal system; 4) cultural/social restraints that prevent victims from reporting their spouse /partners; 5) fear of authorities, non-response from authorities, and demand for evidence of abuse, which may be difficult to prove, especially in cases of emotional and psychological abuse or injury that the woman did not require hospitalization or did not report when it occurred. Data Collection The replies coordinators received during the surveys and outreach indicate that comprehensive data collection practices can be found in the police and within the social services, but they are not disaggregated to indicate Continental African victims and their perpetrators. Also, the data systems used by judicial authorities may not distinguish the specific violence if the domestic violence is not a specific crime of its own, as it may happen in the African cultural context. A further problem is observed when criminal law administrations do not record statistical information about the sometimes complex relationship between the victim and perpetrator, and consequently there are usually no data that could describe domestic violence against women by partners, ex-partners, or potential partners. 68 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration Some participants indicate that medical and nursing staff might feel that it is not their official duty to delve into the victim's domestic violence experience. Their business is to take care of injuries, not so much to find out what caused them. Difficulties in identifying the problem are one reason for poor data recording in health. Also, inquiring and noting domestic violence is not that simple is there is no certainty about it. Gender Leadership and Participation in Public Forums Women 24% Men 76% Forum participants, respondents to the surveys, women groups, and advocates – both men and women - expressed the need to 1) support initiatives that foster increased Continental African women participation in the economic, civic, social, economic and political life in the community; 2) provide organizational networks and opportunities for Continental African women to share information on self-sufficiency and to identify resources to enable victims to make effect transition from crisis; 3) design and promote educational outreach to prevent domestic violence in the community; 4) improve contact and working relationship with social service and the justice system in order to educate and sensitize lawmakers and service providers of the peculiarities involved in violence against Continental African women. KEY RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CONSIDERATIONS BY THE COUNTY EXECUTIVE AND DIRECTORS OF DEPARTMENTS: 1. Provide a decent and safe temporal housing that protects the dignity and identity of the victims while criminal or civil proceedings are initiated or medical attention is provided during this transition phase; monitor to ensure protective orders are honored and not dismissed by the courts when there is still potential for danger. 2. Increase the level and scope of public education and information to bring increased awareness amongst criminal justice agencies, the public, and family and immigration lawyers on domestic violence in the CAC. 3. Publish the rights and resources available to victims of domestic violence in French; Swahili; and Amharic. 69 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration 4. Encourage ongoing research and funding for services that address the unique barriers facing African immigrant women and provide direct services to help victims overcome their crisis. 5. Support Alternative Conflict Resolution by Cultural African Elders in non-criminal proceedings in order to reduce the escalation of violence through preventive education and case management intervention. 6. Collection of Data and Training: Data should be collected for African immigrant victims of domestic violence. Guideline is that data collection should be disaggregated by sex and ethnicity of the victim and perpetrator, the type of violence as well as by the relationship of the perpetrator to the victim. These are the minimum requirements for data collection and these should be recorded in one way or another in all agencies working with violence against women. 7. Asking a victim about domestic violence and recording information on domestic violence is also a matter of attitudes. Staff and service providers should receive cultural sensitivity training to be conversant with specific barriers that the victims of domestic violence experience. Cultural sensitive services should be provided to Continental African women experiencing domestic violence. Also, the environment should be non-threatening and the approaches should safeguard the victim's privacy and unwillingness for publicity. Study Participants on Issues Facing Continental African Women: Target 120 Participants Method of Gathering Opinion Number of Participants Continental African Women Focus Groups and Telephone Interviews 75 Resource Personnel Personal and Telephone Interviews 5 Heads of Departments Personal and Telephone Interviews 2 Social Service Providers Personal and Telephone Interviews 2 Non-Continental Africans Focus Groups and Telephone Interviews 30 Key Issues for Redress Information Services Community Awareness Social Service Providers Training and Education Research 70 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration 4. CONTINENTAL AFRICAN CULTURAL AND COMMUNITY SERVICE CENTER Service is the operative word. At some point in each of our life’s journey, we may find ourselves in a place and time where we either need help or contact, or we can provide help or contact to someone in need. A Community Service Center is a home away from home - you feel understood and welcomed in a non-threatening, culturally familiar environment where you can receive service or offer your service for the human fulfillment: to uplift and improve lives, and strengthen the community. Need Assessment Presented Community Centers facilitate healthy living. The County should support a Continental African Cultural and Community Service center, which provides multifaceted economic and social services, educational and enrichment activities and serves as a community-based clearinghouse for outreach and information. Center will measurably enhance the CACCSC’s capacity to meet the unmet demand services by operating flexible hours, providing tailored programming to accommodate the different schedules of working families, and matching request for culturally relevant and language specific services with appropriate resources that are not offered in the current general community centers. The Center will offer an expanded the curriculum, which will reduce the number of CACCSC residents who are seeking but cannot find suitable programs or service providers who are committed to meet the requests but cannot find affordable venue to do so. Staff and volunteer will promote awareness about various programs available through non- conventional, informal networks that can be used to reach a broad constituency. Rationale: CACCSC constituents face considerable barriers in locating resources, using or providing services because of the inadequacy of the facilities relative to special needs and the crowded use of current centers. These barriers limit constituents’ ability to access appropriate services and contribute to social isolation. The CACCSC center will serve as a bridge to facilitate and connect a variety of community-oriented activities in a safe and structured setting. Established Functions and Operations MISSION: The Continental African Cultural and Community Service Center is a clearinghouse for community resources and provides a consortium of programs to respond to the needs of the community. The CACCSC will continue to assess needs, tailor responses, forecast future needs in order to close the gaps in basic services and strengthen services. COMMUNITY ORIENTATION AND ADJUSTMENT SERVICES First Family Friends: 71 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration Matches volunteers with African individuals and families who recently arrived from Africa or other parts of the world. The objective is to provide guidance to individuals and families to assist them in learning about the community, creating contacts and social networking, and negotiating successful adjustments in their new community. Community Adjustment Service Provides information and referral services to residents. Offers customized support and assistance to families with dependent children through the Family and Parent Initiative. Offers case management, information and referral services for the Elderly Africans through the Help Elderly Achieve & Live in Dignity - (HEAL-Dignity). Citizenship Assistance Program Assists new immigrants in obtaining legalization services. Continental Teen Program: Offers support, acculturation, socialization and integration services for youths in junior and high schools. Follows up the student’s adjustment in school to ensure they are on track for graduation. Facilitates Peer Bonding - bringing together newly arrived teens and their peers from other schools for learning and recreational activities. Community Outreach and Calendar Announcements Community Outreach provides coordinated support to individuals and families in crisis to enable them to make effective transitions; promotes self-sufficiency and independent functioning through access to a range of economic, heath and housing services; and fosters a sense of community belonging through special events. Employment and Education Employment service assists an individual to get, learn and keep a paid job/career and provides the individual with the necessary opportunities and supports to become meaningfully employed. Programs include supported education, job seeking and retention skills training, job placement and coaching. The Employment Service may function cooperatively with municipalities and employers. Career Planning and Assessment and Skills Enhancement: Where am I going? What am I doing with my career? 72 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration Customized career planning services Work skills and training needs assessment Interests Assessments Small group workshops Myers-Briggs Personality Assessment Education Skills assessment and career mapping General Equivalency Diploma (GED) Training to upgrade math and reading skills Occupational skills training in a variety of fields Basic Computer training Child care/transportation assistance during training Ongoing guidance and counseling Re-training for experienced workers Job Announcements Service The Job Announcement Service is committed to provide timely information to help the community learn about available jobs from multiple sources and to kept abreast with trends in the labor market. In collaboration with other agencies, staff and volunteers will offer all- inclusive training as well as separate sessions on resume mining. Job Preparations and Services Job Preparation Services provide job leads, information and planning for the interview, feedback from the interview, transportation to/from the interview, job counseling and support. Job coaches and employment specialists are available. Youth Services: Our children are living and learning Uncovering hidden strengths and talents Help in math, reading and other subjects SAT Preparation for high school students Summer job opportunities Organizing and coordinating after school and summer Prevention; Education, Enrichment and Risk-reduction activities Mentor Matching Services Job shadowing and part-time employment related to vocational studies Youth-Prep and Ready for College: Academic, social and personal benchmarks. Financial Aid Finders: Provide assistance to students in obtaining information on financial aid for college and completing applications forms. 73 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration African Aesthetics - Arts and Cultural Empowerment The African Aesthetics provides arts and culture programs to promote mutual understanding and appreciation of the African arts and culture. Some of the programs are provided and operated through partnerships with community-based organizations and artists. Special programming includes: Workshops on Forging Community Connections by building Audience for African Arts and Culture and the Artists. Get Together for People-to-People Dialogue in Reaching and Understanding the Continental African Community. Promoting the talents of African Artists through special events African Showcase and Exhibitions. African Standard Speakers’ Bureau to: educate the global/multicultural community about the Continental African Community; explain special arts and humanities endeavors; announce events or new projects; participate in panel discussions to promote multicultural understanding and collaborations. Business and Economic Development and Development Services Organize, coordinate and host of African Business Activities. Design and facilitate customized workshops and conferences for small business owners. Provide free management and financial services to non-profit organizations. Africa International Service You can shop at one stop station for information and connection to Africa. This service is designed to provide updated news and developments in African Union countries; our embassies; business, cultural and education exchanges; and tourists' designations in Africa. Through it, we strive to facilitate and enrich our participant’s experience by providing: News and information on all-encompassing topics. Global Viewpoints from African contributors ranging from students to academics and experienced professionals. Trade and cultural missions to and from Africa Seminars and symposium on Africa Constituency Outreach Programs Economic and Financial Literacy Access to Health Care Services and improved public health through targeted programming to redress nutrition awareness and physical fitness Promote awareness on Civil Rights Laws including employees’ rights through technical assistance on legislative and community layering techniques Improve increase renters’ knowledge of landlord/tenant issues and housing rights and how to enforce them through formal channels 74 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration Increase community knowledge on homeownership and financing programs Immigration reform improving paths to legalization Collaboration with immigrant groups like La Casa to increase public awareness on legislations enacted in enacted in Maryland that impacts the immigrant Increase public knowledge to decrease anti-immigrant hostilities Increase in the number of eligible residents for obtain citizenship 5. POTTER’S VESSELS: FAITH-BASED INSTITUTIONS - PARTNERS IN VITAL LIVING Faith-based community services are differentiated from the ministry and chaplaincy services, and programs are not limited to congregants. These programs are vital to the social and cultural stability and overall health of the community. There is increasing government awareness – from federal to local levels - to honor and not restrict faith-based initiatives, and to acknowledge rather than dismiss their solutions. By Executive Order (13280), dated December 12, 2002, President Bush established a Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives to guide Federal agencies in formulating and developing policies with implications for faith-based organizations and other community organizations, to ensure equal protection of the laws for faith-based and community organizations, to further the national effort to expand opportunities for, and strengthen the capacity of, faith-based and other community organizations so that they may better meet social needs … and to ensure the economical and efficient administration and completion of Government contracts…" Since 2002, States have been establishing Faith-based Liaison offices and forum participants were informed of the County’s newly established position to coordinate faith- based initiatives. Indeed, community faith-based organizations are on the forefront of meeting human needs around the world, and the USAID reaches out to faith-based groups in Africa as valuable implementing partners for development based on their dedication to results, their ability to reach the grassroots level of society and their capacity to mobilize societies for positive change. Given the varied issues raised in the needs assessments, faith-based resource that cannot be ignored when working with hard to reach populations like Continental Africans, especially recent immigrants. With these realizations, the County should be a supporter, enabler, and collaborator with CAC faith-based organizations to address some of the social and economic problems that beset the community. Over 90% of respondents support the need for community- oriented faith-based programs that integrate pastoral resources with traditional approach to provide prevention, intervention, and case management services within the larger framework of community-wide response. Just like the Biblical Potter who transformed a broken vessel into an instrument of strength, faith-based groups provide social services to strengthen individuals, families and the community to make effective transitions from crisis situations. 75 Continental African Community: Needs Assessment Submitted to Montgomery County Executive and Administration Left: Bishop Darlington Johnson of Bethel World Ministeries Contact Information Thank you, we appreciate your time and look forward to building working partnerships to promote One Montgomery County for the betterment of all. For further inquiries or communications: Phone: 240-582-6049 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Write to: 2204 Victor Court Silver Spring, MD 20906. 76