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Lawmaker Wants to End Using Children As Interpreters

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A state lawmaker is introducing a bill that would ban the use of children as interpreters by doctors and social workers. Assemblyman Leland Yee of San Francisco says children are often inappropriately used as interpreters for their non-English speaking parents in medical, legal or social service settings.

He says putting a child in that situation can be traumatic and can result in less than accurate interpretations of health or legal advice. Yee´s bill would bar state agencies and organizations that use state money from using children as translators. He says those groups should instead turn to professional or volunteer interpreting services, community centers or ask older family members to translate.

Medical providers warns the bill could cause access problems for Medi-Cal patients in rural areas because doctors won´t be reimbursed for the expense of hiring an interpreter. The California Medical Association isn´t opposed to the bill, but would like to see it exempt those doctors.