Popular Education

"No one educates anyone, and nobody is self educated; all of us learn from each other, mediated by the world we live in."

Paulo Freire

IDEPSCA’s Workers Health Program

Healthcare is a Human Right for All!

The Workers Health Project was officially launched on January 2004. Eleven years later, the project continues to address the health needs of day laborers and household workers, and it has reached different worker populations including street vendors, adult students, youth, parents and children. Over the years we have built the foundation of a unique project, which focuses on developing health curriculum, providing health workshops, and creating innovative materials that will benefit immigrant communities.

It is estimated that everyday, more than 100,000 day laborers seek employment across the U.S. Also, there are about 25,000 female household workers in the State of California. This holistic health and well-being of this growing population and their families is our central goal. We understand that there are many challenges for migrant communities, which range from immigration status, language fluency, to housing stability. Due to these precarious circumstances, many workers are pushed to take on hazardous jobs. The most common jobs they are hired to perform include: construction, demolition, landscaping, moving, painting, housekeeping, and childcare.

Because most of these workers are hired informally and only for short periods of time, workers often are unaware of the limited protections under worker’s compensation or disability insurance. In addition, many negligent employers fail to provide workers the most basic forms of protection that increases short and long-term injuries and even can lead to death. As a result, workers find themselves without proper training or equipment to protect their own health.

Without health insurance, workers who are injured at work are unable to seek medical attention-- even more alarming, a great number of cases get unreported to any state agency and many continue to work injured because they cannot afford to take time off due to their financial need. The Workers Health Program believes that workers are not only capable of taking ownership of their own health, but can also gain the knowledge and resources to fight for their community’s overall health—whether it be at work or at home.

Who We Are & How We Work
Our team is comprised of community health promotoras, health organizers and community members invested in the care and well-being of immigrant workers. Our overall methodology involves the practice of popular education by promoting health amongst our members, day laborers and household workers, found mostly at our Day Labor Centers.

Our main Goal: To promote healthier lifestyles and prevent risky behavior that can lead to poor health conditions among day laborers and household workers, reaching 25% of participants every month.

Operational Objectives

- Increase awareness of workers' health rights, health access, health and safety, advocacy, and alternative medicine, which includes environmental justice.

- Increase worker participation and leadership through the Health Promoter model as a precursor to establishing health & safety committees and overall health promotion at the Day Laborer Centers.

- Establish an accessible network of health providers and allies that promote wellness and holistic health that provide workers referrals in a broad range of health needs—these include, but are not limited to, physical and mental health.

Our health program components are: Health Education Awareness; Networking; Health and Safety; and Alternative/Environmental Health. Furthermore, IDEPSCA’s practice of organizing and educating has effectively increase worker awareness of workplace safety, and many other health issues.

Our main purpose is to contribute in developing healthier environments among day laborer and household worker populations. Overall, to accomplish this goal we will continue serving four job centers mostly:

1. Hollywood,
2. Downtown,
3. Cypress Park,
4. Harbor City

Applying What We Know to this Program
Our long history of organizing and engaging day laborers of our community, along with the developing partnerships with community scholars and experts, have given us the capacity to develop one of the first of its kind, Day Laborer Health Promoters Leadership Program.

Curriculum Process
IDEPSCA’s Workers Health Program believes that the process of developing curriculum is well
beyond the stage of developing educational materials. Our unique approach takes into account the moment that participants are engaged in dialogue about the topic through the moment that materials are developed with participants’ feedback and insights. For that reason, the following general process was developed for this project.

1) Focus Group based: this process allows for health promoters and project managers to gain a deeper understanding and assessment of the interest and knowledge about the different areas relevant to the Health Promoter Leadership Program.

2) Extraction of themes: this process has required transcription and analysis of the focus group discussions from all four (4) job centers in order to guide the curriculum development.

3) Development of each area: IDEPSCA Staff will facilitate some of the topics; however, community leaders, partners and experts whom we have many years of collaborating with will facilitate other areas. This stage will require bringing in those experts, as well as developing our own facilitation guides on each topic.

Outreach Process:Engaging workers specifically for this project has involved several efforts all related to specific needs of day laborers.

Our efforts have involved:

Extensive health and safety workshops

English classes tailored to facilitate their working realities

Working with toxic chemicals workshop

Chronic disease workshops.

Lessons Learned:The scope of needs of day laborers at our community job centers was beyond what we expected.

The different levels of outreach efforts have exposed very basic needs of many day laborer centers. Some of these have included: being homeless, lack of basic information on accessing free healthcare, and battling with substance abuse. These needs coupled with the decrease of jobs for day laborers, as well as their migration status, has great implications on their health and overall well-being. For these reasons, this project seeks to better understand how to promote health despite these difficult circumstances. More importantly, this project will also present the opportunity to highlight moments and acts of resiliency, as well as continue to develop the great leadership skills amongst day laborers.

Changes to living conditions of day laborers:

o Homelessness

o Lack of access to medical services- in the past, there were more available

programs to cover medical costs for this population (i.e elimination of ORSA that

provided free medical services with very little documentation or paperwork; shift

to county-based program, Healthy Way LA)

o Substance Abuse & Mental Health

o Decrease in jobs available to day laborers

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Contact Information
Co-Program Managers: Nancy Zuniga and Angela Alvarez
(213) 252-2952, Ext. 12 & 24