By Gabriel Pilonieta-Blanco
El Tiempo Hispano
DELAWARE — The Governor’s Advisory Council on Hispanic Affairs (GACHA) of Delaware has ceased to exist as such, and by means of Governor Jack Markell’s executive order, the new institution representing Hispanics in Delaware will be the Delaware Hispanic Commission.
Since the creation of the Hispanic Consortium in 2006 by the Minner Administration with the purpose of taking care of Delaware’s Hispanic community needs, and managing certain funds offered by the Arsht-Cannon Foundation, there always was a feeling that the activities of the Council and of the Consortium were the same.
But this was not true, because GACHA was an advisory agency requested by the governor, while the Consortium was more focused on the raising and distribution of funds to be able to work for the needs of the state’s Hispanic community. Sometimes a few members of the organizations were the same.
During more than 30 years, since its creation by Governor Pete Dupont in 1978, GACHA was a voice and a representation at the highest levels of the Government, and many of its achievements in different areas have been registered in the state files.
Governor Jack Markell himself in his speech given during the Centro Latino’s Open House, where he made the public official announcement about the creation of this new Commission, said: “One of the things I’m very proud of in Delaware is that we have had — for many years — a strong voice for Hispanic issues in government. That goes back to Governor DuPont, who set up the first Governor’s Council on Hispanic Affairs back in 1978.”
The Consortium, on the other side, financed a large research between 2007 and 2008 through Bendixen & Associates that established priorities in the Hispanic community needs, as well as the objectives and the available funds to meet such needs.
Through the Arsht-Cannon Foundation, the Consortium granted $150,000 to finance five selected programs among 23 proposals along the state, basically to teach English.
From Governor Markell’s standpoint, the Commission is going to combine the strengths of the Governor’s Advisory Council on Hispanic Affairs and the Governor’s Consortium on Hispanic Affairs, created back in 2006 by Governor Minner, into one strong voice once again.
In this same meeting, the governor stated that “The Commission will work to ensure that we’re meeting the education needs of the Hispanic community. What are we doing to provide education to those with limited English proficiency? How are we reducing the drop-out rate? And what can we do to ensure that children from Wilmington to Georgetown are ready for the jobs of tomorrow?
The Commission will focus on the health needs of the community. Every child in Delaware deserves to grow up healthy, but we know that promise is often not met. So we need to look at what are we doing to promote access to care, preventative care, and increased cultural and linguistic competency for health care providers.
“The Commission will talk about jobs. We know, for example, that the construction industry has been particularly hard hit in recent years, and we know that the construction industry is a big employer of Hispanic Delawareans. What are we doing to address that, and how can we do a better job improving economic opportunities for the Hispanic community?
“Lastly, what can we do better to deliver social services to the Hispanic community? Can we do a better job at ensuring enrollment in CHIP, Medicaid, and job training?
“We’re already doing lots of this. For example, the Consortium has a program of Community Needs Grants, that have funded career advancement and language programs. I’d like to see the Commission take this to the next level – studying not just what are the needs of the Hispanic community in Delaware, but how do we meet them.”
There have been some worries in the way, like for instance, if this new organization will have a facility assigned to operate, to which the Governor answered…