CULTURAL COMPETENCE MATERIALS FOR MSW STUDENTS, STAFF, FACULTY
AND THE COMMUNITY
Prepared by Priscilla
A. Day, MSW, Ed.D.
Table of Contents
*Organizational Cultural Competence
*Assessing Individual Cultural Competence
*Planning for Cultural Competence
*Organizational Actions Towards Cultural Competence
Culturally Competent Examples of:
*Choosing a Cultural Consultant
*Board Policy Statement
A Culturally Competent System of Care acknowledges
and incorporates -at all levels- the importance of culture, the assessment of
cross-cultural relations, vigilance towards the dynamics that result from cultural
differences, the expansion of cultural knowledge, and the adaptation of services
to meet culturally-unique needs.
Cultural competence is a set of congruent
behaviors, attitudes, and policies that come together in a system, agency, or
among professionals and enable that system, agency, or those professionals to
work effectively in cross-cultural situations.
Culture implies the integrated pattern of human
behavior that includes thoughts, communications, actions, customs, beliefs,
values, and institutions of a racial, ethnic, religious, or social group.
Competence implies having the capacity
to function effectively.
*Cultural competence is a developmental process and may be
viewed as a goal toward which agencies can strive.
The Cultural Competence Continuum
Planning for Cultural Competence
Assessing the Environment
Mission and Action
Adapted from: Toward a Culturally Competent System of
Care,T. Cross, B. Bazron, K. Dennis, M. Isaacs March 1989
ELEMENTS OF CULTURAL COMPETENCE
~Engages in cultural self assessment
~Manages dynamics of difference (conflict resolution, respect for diverse opinion)
~Institutionalization of cultural knowledge and practice
Adaption to diversity:
ORGANIZATIONAL DEVELOPMENT OF CULTURAL COMPETENCE:
~Cultural Competence Policy Statement
~Culturally Competent Evaluation
~Community Advisory Committee
~Review Procedures (recruitmt/staff)
~Cultural Plans (training)
~Increased Contact With Healthy Community Members
~Extended Family Support
~Culturally Relevant Assessment ~Cultural Mapping (person in the environment)
Adapted from National Indian Child Welfare Association, (NICWA)
ASSESSING YOUR INDIVIDUAL CULTURAL COMPETENCE:
Practitioner Characteristics :
-commitment to provide culturally competent care
-awareness and acceptance of cultural differences
-awareness of own cultural values
-understanding dynamics of difference
-basic knowledge of the clients culture
-knowledge of the clients environment
-ability to adapt practice skills to fit cultural context
Attributes/Knowledge/Skills Necessary To Develop Cultural Competency:
-genuineness, accurate empathy, nonpossessive warmth and a capacity to respond
flexibly to a range of possible solutions
-acceptance of ethnic differences between people
-willingness to work with clients of different ethnic groups
-articulation/clarification of the workers personal values, stereotypes,
and biases about their own and others ethnicity/social class
-personal commitment to change racism and poverty
-resolution of feelings about ones own professional image in a field that
systematically oppressed and may exclude people of color
-of culture (history, values, traditions, family systems, artistic expressions)
of cultural group
-knowledge of the impact of class and race on behavior, attitudes, and values
-knowledge of help seeking behaviors of clients
-knowledge of role of language, speech patterns, and communication styles
-knowledge of the impact of social service policies on clients
-knowledge of resources that can be utilized and how to access them
-recognition of the ways that professional values may conflict with or accommodate
the needs of minority clients
-knowledge of power relationships within the community, agency, or institution
and their impact on client
-techniques for learning about culture
-ability to communicate accurate information on behalf of client
-ability to openly discuss racial differences and respond to culturally based
-ability to assess the meaning ethnicity has for individual clients
-ability to differentiate between the symptoms of intrapsychic stress and stress
arising from the social structure
-interviewing techniques that are culturally sensitive
-ability to utilize the concepts of empowerment on behalf of the client and
-ability to recognize and combat racism, racial stereotypes, and myths in individuals
-ability to evaluate new techniques, research, and knowledge as to its
validity and applicability in working with people of color
How to do this-
*Skills and Knowledge are gained through education, training, practice and self
*Personal attributes can be developed through exposure to the positive aspects
of minority cultures.
*Knowledge and skill must be coupled with a willingness to let clients determine
their own future.
Adapted from: Toward a Culturally Competent System of Care
T. Cross, B. Bazron, K. Dennis, M. Isaacs March 1989
ACTIONS TOWARDS ORGANIZATIONAL
1) Review your mission statement
(involve people of color in the development of the statement).
2) Embrace empowerment models- giving responsibility out - as an organizational
3) Systematically review services: Are we serving people of color? How well?
Keep updated on numbers of people of color served; solicit input from minority
organizations regarding needs of communities.
4) Assess key implementers (leaders such as CEO, Executive Director, etc.) regarding:
bias, cultural competence in their performance reviews.
5) Be informed about the range of attitudes and values regarding difference
in the community-communities of color and the mainstream. (Ex: there are over
470 American Indian publications currently in the U.S.)
6) Have a policy regarding resolution of conflicts involving cultural issues.
7) Establish direct access to advisors: cultural consultants , key
informants from diverse ethnic communities.
8) Make sure all staff get ongoing cultural competence training specifically
geared for their level of competence.
9) Have available access to services in other languages and sign language interpreters.
10) Commit resources to culturally-specific services.
11) Maintain data about communities of color you serve.
12) Foster development of new, innovative, culturally appropriate services (informed
13) Adjust the composition of your advisory committees, boards, etc., to reflect
your client group, not just the general population ratio.
14) Have written policies on hiring people of color.
15) Be open to feedback from clients of color and willing to adapt services
Terry Cross, Executive Director, 1993
Northwest Indian Child Welfare Association, Inc. (NICWA)
CHOOSING AN IDEAL COMMUNITY CONSULTANT
These can be helpful guidelines when choosing a cultural consultant for your
*(This is not meant to be an exhaustive list but rather a place to begin when
considering finding someone to work with you.)
~COMMUNITY RECOGNITION: Are they well known and respected in their community
~COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Do they participate in social events, serve on boards,
parent committees, and other community activities in their community?
~ADVANCED IDENTITY DEVELOPMENT: Are they comfortable with themselves as a person
of color? Do they approach cross cultural situations positively?
~SUB-GROUP DIVERSITY AWARENESS AND SENSITIVITY: Do they know area sub-groups
within their community of color? Are they able to bridge between groups effectively?~ARTICULATE
IN AT LEAST TWO WORLD VIEWS: Can they bridge effectively between groups?
-Are they familiar with the history and contemporary issues in their culture?
-Are they articulate about current structures, practices, and important players
in social services in their cultural community?
-Are they familiar with the unique mental health issues, healing practices,
world view, etc. (bonding, extended family, cultural identity) of their culture?
~KNOWLEDGE AND ABILITY TO MANAGE DYNAMICS OF DIFFERENCE: Do they effectively
deal with bias, ethnocentrism, bigotry, conflict resolution in a constructive
manner to facilitate understanding and growth?
Adapted from NICWA
CULTURAL COMPETENCE AT ANY CHILD CENTER
BOARD POLICY STATEMENT:
The Board of Directors of Any Child Center for Children, in recognition
of the growing diversity in the population of children needing treatment services,
seeks to create and maintain a culturally responsive helping environment, and
environment capable of comprehensively addressing the unique needs of children
of color.Children of color have historically been under referred to treatment
and specifically, to Any Child Center. It is the responsibility
of Any Child Center to not only make its services accessible to
all, but to affirm by policy and action its commitment to children of all cultures.
It is the policy of Any Child Center to develop and maintain:~links
with key referral sources in our states communities of color~standards
for providing services to ethnically, culturally diverse children~a culturally
competent work force, reflective of the cultural diversity of the service population~intake
procedures, treatment planning, and therapeutic interventions which recognize,
enhance and strengthen cultural identity, dignity, and esteem~a treatment milieu
in which racism, stereotyping, bigotry and prejudices are inappropriate and
From: People of Color Leadership Institute
RECRUITMENT OF CULTURALLY COMPETENT STAFF
1. Identify ethnic publications, radio stations and cable T.V. channels for
each of the cultural groups you wish to target. Actively use various media for
2. When developing job descriptions, include cultural competence as a qualification
for the position.
~awareness of cultural values and beliefs
~willingness to be flexible and examine own cultural biases
~ability to communicate with clients in their native language or dialect
3. Identify and contact different ethnic organizations. Mail specific job postings
and follow up with a telephone call.
4. Utilize current staff of color to assist in recruitment activities.
5. Develop and maintain a positive working relationship with undergraduate and
graduate schools of social work. Serve as a field placement for students to
expose students of color to agency.
6. Participate in career day programs.
7. Organize and host professional receptions for professional of color to familiarize
potential candidates with the agency.
8. Identify key organizations, institutions (churches) and leaders in communities
of color who can assist in recruitment.
Toward a Culturally Competent System of Care,T. Cross, B. Bazron, K. Dennis,
TASK ORIENTED JOB DESCRIPTION
* Ensures that cultural issues are addressed in case plans.
* Maintains relationships with cultural consultants.
* Provides services to enhance the cultural identity and group esteem of clients.
* Seeks input from cultural groups and specialists to guide service planning.
*Interacts with formal and informal helping resources in various cultural communities.
Adapted from: Terry Cross NICWA 1992
EXAMPLE INTERVIEW QUESTIONSVERSATILITY AND INTERACTION:
This job will require interaction with people who are of diverse cultural backgrounds.
Describe a time when you have encouraged this and how you handled it.
What is the worst cross-cultural blunder you have committed? What would you
do differently today?
Describe a time when you were required to work with a multicultural group of
people to bring out divergent opinions and state a consensus. Did you agree
with the consensus?
If not, what did you do about it?
PERCEPTION AND ANALYSIS:
Describe a cross-cultural problem which you solved on your last or current job
and how you arrived at the solution.
~Pay attention to the unique needs of culturally diverse staff.
~ Develop opportunities for upward mobility, skill enhancement and promotions.
~ Provide culturally sensitive training activities for all staff and management.
Training should focus on developing cultural knowledge and the function of culture
in a persons life.
~ Conduct a comprehensive orientation on the agencys mission, services
and resources, training and educational opportunities, and professional development.
~ Encourage and support the development of support/issues groups for culturally
~ Adjust leave time to accommodate cultural differences in holidays or important
~ Adapt the physical environment to include cultural artwork, pictures, artifacts
to demonstrate agency concern and commitment to diversity.
~ Host luncheons, celebrations to acknowledge cultural holidays or events. Include
ethnic foods and decor.
~ Provide information to culturally diverse staff on the formal and informal
politics of the work place, and agency communication styles.
~Develop a mentor program to assist new staff.
Adapted from: Terry Cross NICWA 1990