Require adoption of CLAS standards

Parity, Coverage, & Equitable Access
Diverse Workforce
social determinants of health
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Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI)
Coverage & Standards
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Federal department
Health and Human Services
house committees
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senate committees
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The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) should require organizations receiving federal funds, including states and local units of government, to adopt HHS’s Office of Mental Health’s (OMH) Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) standards in health and health care settings.[1]


Immigrants and refugees need support in navigating the healthcare system and finding appropriate and culturally responsive care. Immigrant communities also encounter many challenges such as discrimination, isolation, stigma, and a sense of separation. These challenges often compound the trauma that they faced before and after migrating. Some of the most significant health and well-being service gaps are often language barriers, stigma, and lack of diversity amongst service providers. Providing resources and information about available services and providing culturally competent outreach and care are vital to ensuring that they access the services they need.[2]

The CLAS standards aim to ensure cultural competency of social workers, healthcare, and mental health care workers, so that they can better serve diverse communities, including immigrants. HHS should require, rather than simply making available, adoption of their Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) standards in health and health care settings by organizations receiving federal funding.[2] Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires organizations receiving federal funds to take “reasonable steps to provide meaningful access to their programs for individuals with limited English proficiency.” The Departments of Justice and Labor should prioritize handling language access discrimination cases in healthcare and other service settings.[3]

Many critical programs that serve people with low incomes are federally funded but state and locally administered. States and localities vary greatly in the resources they devote to language access and in the number of languages they translate important materials such as health care and mental health care materials. Federal agencies, such as HHS and OMH, should provide more translated materials that can be adapted by state and local agencies (adding specific program names, websites, phone numbers) and should enforce legal requirements to provide qualified translation and interpretation services. The National Virtual Translation Center assists in identifying the language of and ensuring quality of pre-translated materials for federal agencies; it can assist in ensuring information on health care access is appropriately translated across all relevant federal agencies. The Limited English Proficiency Federal Interagency Website provides links to documents that provide guidance on language access service and hosts actual translated documents; the website should host specific guides on culturally competent language access services in health and health care settings and actual translated documents on the topic for health care agencies to use. [3]


1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Minority Health. National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services in Health and Health Care. Last Accessed July 29, 2023.

2. Center for Law and Social Policy. “CLASP Recommendations to the White House Task Force on New Americans.” Last Accessed February 17, 2023.

3. Migration Policy Institute. “Federal Government Language Access Resource Guide.” Last Updated October 21, 2013.