Fact Sheet Access to Safety Net Programs for North Carolina’s Hmong Immigrant Families
Perspectives from Focus Group Participants
Diana Guelespe, Hamutal Bernstein, Jennifer M. Haley, Sofia Hinojosa, Luis H. Gallardo, Hannah Gill, Krista Perreira
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As part of a study on North Carolina immigrant families’ access to safety net programs, we led focus groups with members of immigrant families to understand their experiences applying for and accessing programs.

Over recent decades, North Carolina’s diverse immigrant population has grown, with immigrant families living in rural and urban communities across the state. North Carolina has one of the US’s largest Hmong communities, an ethnic minority group from Southeast Asia who arrived as refugees following the Vietnam War and now spans three generations. Like other populations that include many refugees, Hmong immigrants often meet immigration eligibility requirements for federal safety net programs but must navigate income and other requirements.

In this fact sheet, we present findings from a focus group with members of Hmong-speaking immigrant families in North Carolina. They primarily included adult children of Hmong immigrants, or second-generation Hmong. In the focus group, we heard that language access was a main barrier to accessing safety net programs. In addition, applicants’ adult children, who were often tasked with finding program information, were overwhelmed with the information available online. Many lacked awareness of programs and raised concerns about intergenerational living situations as a logistical hurdle to eligibility. Their recommendations to health and human services agencies for reducing these barriers included developing targeted modes of communication for the elderly, such as videos and radio; and using other modes, such as email and text, for the more technologically savvy younger population. They also suggested having eligibility instructions that address intergenerational families and hiring Hmong staff in agency offices.

Research Areas Immigration Social safety net
Tags Immigrant access to the safety net Immigrant children, families, and communities Immigrant-serving organizations Mixed-status immigrant families Federal, state, and local immigration and integration policy Welfare and safety net programs Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program  Health equity Language access Refugees and global migration Racial and ethnic disparities Families with low incomes Health insurance
Policy Centers Health Policy Center Income and Benefits Policy Center
States North Carolina
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