Baltimore County is done making non-English-speaking families travel miles to the only in-person center that enrolls their students in language support services. Now, the center is driving to them.

Baltimore County’s new Mobile Welcome Center looks like a bright blue school bus, parked every Tuesday at four different schools in east Baltimore County towns.


But inside, students take English proficiency tests to determine the level of support they need. And parents are connected with other resources, like healthcare and proof-of-residency documents, that their child needs to start school.


“It's our job to help them jump through those hoops and get the kids enrolled and attending,” said Mark Anelli, the county’s English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) liaison.


“We notify the school that they're receiving a student who's going to be in need of ESOL services, we give [the family] information about where the school is located, what to bring when they get there,” Anelli said. “And we talk to them about the attendance and residency requirements that they'll need to provide.”


Bridging Communication Barriers


Staff are equipped with the LanguageLine app on their wireless devices. This allows them to reach out to an interpreter when the need for mutual understanding arises. LanguageLine provides Baltimore County with interpretation in more than 240 languages. The service is available on-demand, and no appointment is necessary. 


“It’s a night and day difference having access to [LanguageLine],” Anelli said. “The ability to reach an interpreter in virtually any language enables us to work with many more families than we would have otherwise.”


A ‘Point Person’ for New Families


Around 15% of Baltimore County residents speak a language other than English at home. The same percentage of students in Baltimore County schools are English Language Learners.


Charissa Huie is a transition facilitator who works at the mobile center. Her job is to administer the English test, and based on the results, enroll the student in ESOL services at their school.

Huie says she thinks of her job as being a “point-person” for families new to Baltimore County – and often to the U.S.


“If I went to a foreign country, I would need some sort of point person. So, we try to be that for the families,” she said. “A lot of them are sort of apprehensive about calling the school because of the language barrier. So, instead of calling the school, they call us, because they know that we have that sort of bridge.”


The mobile center typically sees around seven families each day, Anelli said. But that makes a big difference.

“We are a huge county,” he said. “Logistically, it's difficult for families to come to the one center that we had available. They obviously can’t afford $50 to take an Uber across town. So, we come to them.”


LanguageLine Can Help


LanguageLine is helping to revolutionize the way Baltimore County addresses the needs of non-English-speaking families through innovative services and technology. By deploying the Mobile Welcome Center, the county is making significant strides in making education accessible to everyone, regardless of their native language.


All of this is made possible by the LanguageLine App. The app offers a seamless way to bridge communication gaps, providing instant access to over 20,000 LanguageLine Certified interpreters anytime, anywhere, directly from your preferred digital devices. 


The app is designed to enhance productivity, alleviate frustrations, and elevate interpersonal experiences. With 24/7 availability and connections established in under 30 seconds, the app supports audio interpreting across more than 240 languages and video interpreting in over 40 languages, including American Sign Language (ASL) and British Sign Language (BSL).


Let’s talk solutions. We invite you to contact us today so that we can learn more about how we can work together to turn language challenges into opportunities. Still exploring how we can help? Dive deeper into the LanguageLine app’s features.


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