Cultural Competency in Child Welfare
Cultural Competency in Child Welfare
Cultural Competency is a must in child welfare. Social workers must break the barriors between their own culture and other cultures. Samantrai (2004) said that cultural competency is defined as “ways of thinking and behaving that enable members of one cultural, ethnic, or linguistic group to work effectively with members of another.” For us to understand a culture, we must be aware of our own culture and how we define ourselves. We must take off our cultural filters and look at other cultures with a clear, non skewed view. A culture of a person might explain unknown actions and traditions in which we are unaware. We must be able to change the way we view things so we learn to fit our evaluations into the context of another’s culture, if possible.
In the journal article, Conducting Culturally Competent Evaluations of Child Welfare Programs and Practice, Dettlaff and Fong (2011) speak of the doubling numbers of immigrant parents and the large number of African Americans in our child welfare system. They speak about the changing demographics and increasing needs to address the racial and ethnic disparities. They believe that it starts with the initial evaluation. Most evaluations are done with the dominant culture. In the United States that is a predominately white standard. When an evaluation is done it is very important to do it with that child’s culture in mind. Dettlaff and Fong (2004) say this will ensure safety, permanency, and well being of the child.
The article speaks about how we as a society in the passed based a child evaluation on a white culture, even when the culture was non white. We have come to realize that we must evaluate using models from the child’s culture. This allows us to have a much better outcome in safety and permanency. However sometimes there is an issue of language barriers, different values, and emotions. The article states that these problems often come from limited data. We must realize that the immigrant population is growing. We must use the areas were the immigrant population has grown the most to gather our information. We must try to understand the problems that immigrant families and children face and how to deal with the problems when planning services for each family. (Dettlaff & Fong, 2011). For an evaluation to be done correctly we must be familiar with the culture that is relevant to our clients. Sometimes when we talk about culturally competency, we assume that we must be completely all-knowing of the culture. This is not true. We must know the basics of the culture. There is no way possible to know all things about all cultures. The biggest thing that the article states is that we must be able to work cross-culturally. We must always keep an open mind and try to never make assumptions. (Dettlaff & Fong, 2011) The article also continues to explain how to obtain cultural evaluations and what guidelines we should follow. The article speaks of conceptual framework. A framework must focus on three areas: cultural awareness, knowledge acquisition, and skill development. Cultural awareness is the workers knowledge of their culture and the culture of the client. This allows the evaluator to be sensitive to her clients culture while be knowledgeable of it as well. Knowledge acquisition is where we gain knowledge from another expert source that is not our own. Skill development is when we take the knowledge we have learned and develop our own skills according to this knowledge. There are so many different things that we must learn about in a culture. One of the most important is the language. The words may have different meanings when translated. They must be precise or there will be miscommunication with the client. (Dettlaff & Fong, 2011).
The article also speaks of creating and adapting evaluation tools to become culturally...
References: Dettlaff, A. J., & Fong, R. (2011) Conducting Culturally Competent Evaluations of Child
Welfare Programs and Practices. Child Welfare, 90(2), 49-68
Mathers, J., Lager, P. B., & Harris, N. J. (2007). Child Welfare: Polices and Best
Practices. (2nd ed.). Belmont, CA. Thomson Brooks/Cole
Samautrai, K. (2004). Culturally Competent Public Child Welfare Practice. Pacific
Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole.
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