What does cultural competence mean?
Cultural competence refers to:
- A defined set of values and principles, as well as behaviors, attitudes, policies, and structures, that enable systems to work effectively cross-culturally
- The capacity to value diversity, conduct self-assessment, manage the dynamics of difference, acquire and institutionalize cultural knowledge, and adapt to diversity and the cultural contexts of the communities served
- The incorporation of the above in all policymaking, administration, practice, and service delivery, and the systematic involvement of consumers, key stakeholders, and communities
Why is cultural competence important?
- A person's culture can affect the kinds of services needed, as well as the optimal place, time, and method of delivering services and supports.
- Addressing issues of culture, race, class, and ethnic background increases the likelihood of a positive intervention.
- By working to understand the cultural needs of the families within systems of care, service providers convey the importance of respect, dignity, nondiscrimination, and self-determination to all participants.
- The issues of child abuse and neglect are not unique to any one culture or community. Being willing and able to understand the needs of the unique families seeking or needing services will improve both the families' willingness to participate and the system's capacity to provide effective services.
Questions to ask about systems of care and cultural competence:
- Is leadership committed to the cultural competence effort?
- Are policies in place to support cultural competence within the system?
- Are the recommended services responsive to each child and family's culture?
- Is the family's cultural background taken into account in determining when, how, and where services will be offered?
- Are staff reflective of the community's racial and ethnic diversity?
- Is staff training regularly offered on the theory and practice of cultural competence?
- Are families involved in developing the system's cultural competence efforts?
- Do child welfare staff interact with children and families in culturally and linguistically competent ways?
- Are staff culturally sensitive to the place and type of services made available to the child and family?
- Does the system of care reach out to the diverse racial, ethnic, and cultural groups in the community?