Citing a desire to make sure all Dane County residents can easily access county services and that county government is a reflection of the community it works for, County Executive Joe Parisi announced a new effort today to recruit and retain bilingual employees today. The 2017 Dane County employee handbook creates a new supplemental pay initiative for county workers whose work duties require fluency in multiple languages.
“We’ve put a great deal of focus in recent years at breaking down unnecessary barriers to educational and economic success in our community and this new effort better ensures anyone who needs help from county government will receive understanding, compassion, and better service,” Parisi said. “County government is tasked with being the safety net for our most vulnerable. Whether it’s kids, families struggling with poverty, or seniors making sure they know where their next meal is coming from, our front line county employees are in a better position to help meet needs in a timely fashion if they’re familiar with cultural norms and able to overcome language barriers.”
The new bilingual supplemental pay will increase wages .75 cents an hour for employees whose fluency in a second language is required to complete the duties they’re assigned. The provision is included in the annual employee handbook which will be considered by the Dane County Board of Supervisors in the coming weeks.
Parisi noted the most recent U.S. Census found Dane County’s Latino population was the county’s fastest growing demographic, nearly doubling in size from the census done a decade prior to that.
“Immigrants from all nationalities are living in fear every day, awaiting the next decree from Washington D.C., worrying what impact misguided policies from our nation’s and state Capitol may have on their families,” Parisi noted. “Efforts like this and the Immigration Assistance Fund I announced in partnership with Centro Hispano nearly three weeks ago are intended to reflect the values of this community: we are welcoming, compassionate, and understanding.”
Creation of the Immigration Assistance Fund and new “Dane County Immigration Affairs Specialist” position is awaiting review and action by the County Board of Supervisors.