The Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund (LALDEF), is teaming with Catholic Charities, Diocese of Trenton and Trenton Health Team to expand access to COVID-19 vaccines, testing and information for Trenton communities hardest hit by the pandemic, with support from the New Jersey Department of Health ELC grant program.

Healthcare leaders and others have voiced growing concerns about inequities in vaccine access, with immigrants and communities of color especially affected. This grant and partnership aims to ensure that immigrant communities in Mercer County have reliable information in Spanish and English about COVID-19 and access to testing and vaccines.

ELC grants, administered by the New Jersey Department of Health Division of Family Health Services and the Maternal Child Health Consortia, support expanded access to COVID-19 testing and vaccines, and training for community health workers to connect at-risk residents with needed services and reliable COVID-19 information.

Grants were recently awarded statewide to social service and healthcare agencies that provide life-saving services to vulnerable and underserved communities, through a partnership with the Central Jersey Family Health Consortium.

“We recognize that communities of color and other vulnerable groups have suffered more serious illness and death from COVID-19, yet often have fewer opportunities for testing and vaccines,” said Robyn D’Oria, Chief Executive Officer of CJFHC. “We believe these grants will help bring critical resources to people needing them most.”

LALDEF’s Interim Executive Director Lorraine Goodman added, “LALDEF is thrilled to participate in this collaboration, which will save the lives of our immigrant neighbors — many of whom have provided the essential services we have all relied on over the past year. Health equity raises all of us; it is not a zero-sum game.”

As part of the initiative, LALDEF’s three client advocates will receive special training through the New Jersey Department of Health’s Colette Lamothe-Galette Community Health Worker Institute to address client needs related to COVID-19 in culturally sensitive ways and expand access to needed services in vulnerable communities. In addition, the partnership will develop new ways to ensure that immigrant residents of Trenton have access to testing and vaccines.

This project reflects the strength and commitment shared by local community agencies; one of our greatest assets is the collaboration among health care and community partners to enhance health and well-being throughout our city.