Workplace

Women’s Foundation of Greater Kansas City increases focus on Latinas

Updated: 2013-12-05T04:46:16Z

By DIANE STAFFORD

The Kansas City Star

Rapid growth in the Kansas City area’s Latina population is producing specific employment, education and social service needs that aren’t being met effectively, and that’s an economic drag on the entire community, according to a new research brief.

The report, issued by the Women’s Foundation of Greater Kansas City in advance of its annual luncheon meeting Friday, concludes that language barriers — coupled with lack of immigration and work documentation — prevent many Latinas from using existing social service assistance.

Unemployment and underemployment are the results.

The report ties in with the theme of the Women’s Foundation’s event, which will feature actress America Ferrera as the keynote speaker.

“Many local social service agencies link consumers to existing government programs and resources, which are not available to those without documentation,” the report says. And “uncertainty surrounding documentation limits Latina youth from accessing opportunities and engaging in long-term planning.”

Inadequate transportation to jobs, education providers and service locations also figure into the “underserved” status of Latinas, the brief states.

Its conclusions tie in with a recent report by the University of Southern California Program for Environmental & Regional Equity, which estimated that the Kansas City area’s Latino population will grow from 9 percent in 2010 to 12 percent in 2020, 16 percent in 2030 and 21 percent in 2040.

“Latinos are much more likely to be among the working poor compared to other groups,” the USC report said. “This means the region’s fastest-growing population suffers some of the worst economic conditions.”

The Women’s Foundation intends to focus more efforts on serving Latinas, according to foundation president Wendy Doyle.

Two of those projects will be announced at the luncheon, she said.

Foundation information is at www.wfgkc.org.

To reach Diane Stafford, call 816-234-4359 or send email to stafford@kcstar.com.

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