W.O.M.A.N., Inc.’s Latina Program was established in the early 2000s in response to the growing need for specialized support for monolingual Spanish-speaking survivors of domestic violence. Through the Latina Program and participating staff and volunteers, our clients have access to Spanish-language therapy, support groups, peer counseling, and case management.
Latina Program Manager Paola Souto joined the WI team in 2011, providing case management and advocacy to the program’s clientele. Her work includes educating clients about available social services as well as the U.S. legal and immigration systems, accompaniment to court dates and other critical appointments, translation, and providing referrals to external community agencies specific to the clients’ needs. One particularly important focus of the Latina Program’s work is connecting survivors to public benefits made possible by the Violence Against Women Act (1994) and the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (2000). Legal residency and the associated benefits for survivors and their families is achievable through these important pieces of legislation, and Latina Program clients are able to access support navigating the complicated processes of completing VAWA, U-Visa, and T-Visa applications.
In addition to these direct services, Paola and volunteers also promote awareness about domestic violence and available resources in the Bay Area’s Latino community. Since the beginning of 2012, bilingual support for existing and prospective Latina Program clients has expanded thanks to the incorporation of Spanish-speaking members of the volunteer program, who complete a supplemental training in order to gain the skills and knowledge necessary to support immigrant survivors. The continually growing need for Latina Program services has also resulted in the hiring of a new program assistant, Catherine Connor-Moore.
The Latina Program holds consultation hours for prospective clients during three weekly windows: Mondays, 2pm-3:30; Wednesdays, 11am-12:30pm; and Fridays, 10am-1:30pm. Established clients are seen during appointments set during business hours, and Spanish language support is available around the clock via WI’s 24/7 crisis line. This high level of service accessibility is made possible thanks to our dedicated volunteers in the office and on the crisis line.