Special Project Grant

New Korean Language InfoLine Launched in May

KACF-SF is pleased to be partnering with Korean Community Center of the East Bay (KCCEB) on Bay Area Korean InfoLine (BAKI), a toll-free region-wide Korean language information and referral call service. BAKI, managed by KCCEB, provides a unified and coordinated service linking the critical needs of Korean Americans who have trouble navigating U.S. public and social systems due to language barriers with available resources in the Bay Area.

High levels of limited English-proficiency within the Bay Area’s Korean community have created increasing demands for diverse social, legal, and health-related information and services that are culturally and linguistically appropriate. Between April 2016 and March 2017, the volume of phone inquiries received by KCCEB quadrupled compared to the prior 12-month period.

KCCEB’s Executive Director, June Lee, noted: “Just in the past four months, we have seen a 52% increase in calls regarding immigration, access to public benefits, and hate crimes. In spite of such high demand, we experienced great difficulty finding adequate support from local governments due to the relatively small population and geographic spread of Korean Americans in the Bay Area. Funding from KACF-SF allows us to meet current demands and expand our capacity to respond effectively to the high volume of calls we receive from all over the Bay Area.”

BAKI is also piloting the use of call center technology to streamline and manage phone inquiries and referrals, which will facilitate follow-up services as well as tracking and sharing of information. “We hope this new technology will enable efficient capture and analysis of data about community needs that can be shared across organizations to inform new and improved services and programs,” stated Sophia Oh-Kim, KACF-SF’s Board Co-Chair. “While there are several organizations providing varying levels of phone consultations and referrals in Korean, there is limited capacity to handle the growing need,” Oh-Kim added. KCCEB is working with other community-based organizations to ensure coordination of information and referrals throughout the region.

In its first 8 weeks of operations, as word spread, BAKI has handled a steadily increasing call volume, with a six-fold increase in weekly calls since its first week. Calls cover a wide range of social, health and legal issues, and come from the Bay Area’s 9 counties and beyond, including out of state. One call came from a concerned neighbor of a Korean family in Marin County, where resources for the relatively small Korean population are scarce. The caller reported a Korean senior who appeared to be depressed and on the verge of ending his life as he struggles to care for his wife suffering from Alzheimer and his disabled mother. A BAKI counselor evaluated the family’s situation and contacted County offices to secure help for them for their medical, food, and housing needs.

BAKI services are available Monday-Friday, from 9am to 5pm. The toll-free number is: 1-844-828-BAKI (phonetically meaning “answering calls promptly” in Korean).

See coverage about the project in the Korean media: