One America Community Efforts
Little Bar

Program: Asian Counseling and Referral Service, Seattle, WA
Contact(s): Janet Soohoo, Deputy Director: (206) 695-7534
Purpose: To promote the social, emotional and economic well being and empowerment of individuals, families and communities, by providing and advocating for innovative community-based multilingual and multicultural services

Background Program Operations Outcomes


Asian Counseling and Referral Service (ACRS) was created in 1973. ACRS, staffed by a small group of community volunteer social workers and students, strives to address the mental health needs of Asians and Pacific Islanders. Due to language and cultural barriers, many Asians and Pacific Islanders are not able to receive appropriate services from mainstream health care providers and are at risk of being misdiagnosed and receiving inappropriate care. Today, ACRS supports and provides culturally competent bilingual and bicultural human services, which promote racial reconciliation, increase positive dialogues and reduce disparities.

Program Operations

All ACRS programs help to provide equal access to health care services and to reduce racial disparities in health care among Asians and Pacific Islanders. ACRS programs include bilingual comprehensive mental health services that combine both Eastern and Western approaches and involve both individual and family counseling. The ACRS aging and adult services assist elderly and disabled clients to live independently in their homes, rather than nursing homes. Food programs, legal assistance and financial counseling are also offered to elderly clients. Children, youth and family services provide programs for "at-risk youth," including health services and counseling. Youth services also offer cultural heritage education and education on race, stereotypes and diversity. Vocational services are offered to teach English, develop job search skills, and facilitate job placement for immigrants and refugees. This helps to reduce disparities in the workplace and provide opportunities for Asians and Pacific Islanders, and other immigrants and refugees. Emergency food and nutrition services are provided to low-income families, along with food bank services. Consultation, information, referral and educational services are provided throughout King County. ACRS has established strong partnerships with other non-Asian organizations and communities to promote the value of diversity and advocate for issues of common concern. ACRS has also played an active role in partnering with other organizations in advocating for communities of color. In "Cross Cultural Alliance," ACRS works with the Therapeutic Health Service, Consejo Counseling Service, and the Seattle Mental Health Deaf Services.

Outcomes and Significant Accomplishments

Nearly 13,000 people from 13 ethnic groups are served annually by the ACRS's largely bilingual and bicultural staff. Collectively, staff members speak over 25 different languages and dialects. In 1997, ACRS supported the nutritional needs of more than 10,000 families. With the Cross Cultural Alliance, ACRS was able to ensure that minorities were not excluded from King County services by unfair eligibility requirements. In 1996, ACRS was given the national Ernest M. Pon Award for its service to Asian and Pacific Island communities. The Health Care Financing Administration has selected ACRS as one of its "Best Practices in Culturally Competent Health Care Service Delivery." In 1998, the National Asian American Association of Professionals recognized ACRS for its "Outstanding Community Service."

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