Main Page
This Issue
Next Article
Previous Article

2000 Jordan Institute
for Families

Vol. 4, No. 1
February 1999

Culturally Competent Workers & Programs

Culturally Competent Workers

  • Invite those who are different from themselves to be their "cultural guides", where the guide is the teacher and the social worker is the student

  • Learn as much as they can about an individual's or family's culture

  • Recognize how their own background influences how they view others

  • Work within each person's family structure, which may include grandparents, other relatives, and friends

  • Recognize, accept, and, when appropriate, include the help of natural helpers, such as curanderos or shamans

  • Respect traditions where gender and age may play an important role; for example, in many racial and ethnic groups, elders are highly respected

  • Include cultural leaders in neighborhood outreach efforts

Culturally Competent Programs

  • Accept and respect difference

  • Expand cultural knowledge and resources

  • Provide ongoing staff training about cultural competence

  • Develop culture-related treatment philosophies

  • Hire staff members who specialize in culturally competent practice

  • Seek advice from the diverse communities served by the agency

  • Appoint board members from the community so that voices from all groups of people within the community participate in decisions

  • Actively recruit a racially and culturally diverse staff

  • Actively recruit foster and adoptive parents from all groups in the community

  • Support the development of culturally appropriate assessment instruments

  • Insist on evidence of cultural competence when contracting for services

  • Nurture and support new community-based multicultural programs; engage in and support research in cultural competence

  • Make the program's location, hours, and staff accessible

  • Make physical appearance respectful of different groups

  • Include cultural competence requirements in staff job descriptions


Cross, T., Dennis, K., Isaacs, M., & Bazron, B. (1989). Toward a culturally competent system of care [monograph]. National Technical Assistance Center for Children's Mental Health [Online], <http//> . (Web address no longer functional.)

1999 Jordan Institute for Families