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New Jersey Eyes Ways to Improve Latino Services

Language translators would be made available in all state departments and the state would recruit teachers from Spain and Puerto Rico under recommendations delivered Monday to New Jersey Gov. Jon S. Corzine.

The report by Corzine’s Working Group on Latino Affairs found most state departments don’t translate information into languages other than English. It recommends hiring language experts to provide accurate translations.

Corzine said he welcomed the recommendations to help better direct resources to Latino families and individuals.

“My administration will also be reaching out to the community for its feedback and strategy for effective implementation in addressing the economic, educational and social needs of Latinos in New Jersey,” Corzine said.

New Jersey has about 8.7 million residents, about 15 percent of which are Latino, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The working group report also recommends new policies and procedures to address disparity issues, help people with limited English obtain better access to medical care and resolve medical billing issues and require social service contractors provide services in various languages.

It also proposes convening economic forums for Latinos on available economic incentives, implementing bilingual teacher recruitment programs with Spain and Puerto Rico and translating statewide student assessment tests into Spanish.

The teacher recruitment recommendations propose taking advantage of a program offered through the Spanish embassy to recruit foreign language and bilingual teachers from Spain to teach at elementary, middle and high schools.

Corzine’s group recommended that the New Jersey Department of Education create a similar program with Puerto Rico because of the large concentration of Puerto Ricans in the state.

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