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March 2006Vol. 7, No. 2Assessing an Agency's Cultural Competency

A toolkit for the self-assessment of agency cultural competency has been developed by the El Paso County, CO, Greenbook Initiative. The toolkit, which can be downloaded for free, is a comprehensive collection of surveys, interviews, facility checklists, and document reviews, as well as reports from two sites where the toolkit was piloted. The toolkit allows agencies to survey staff, volunteers, and clients regarding their perceptions and experiences with agency policies. It also directs agencies to examine their mission statement, policies, procedures, outreach, communications, and physical facilities with a view toward cultural competency.

The toolkit provides a definition of cultural competency that stresses the ability of an agency to work effectively in cross-cultural situations. To be culturally competent, an agency must:

  • Value diversity
  • Have the capacity for cultural self-assessment
  • Be conscious of the dynamics inherent when cultures interact
  • Institutionalize cultural knowledge
  • Adapt service delivery based on understanding of cultural diversity

Reports from the two agencies that piloted the toolkit include their survey results, as well as actions to improve cultural competency in areas that showed deficiencies. Actions include such steps as:

  • Forming an ongoing cultural competency committee
  • Increasing outreach to underserved communities
  • Targeting the overrepresentation of minorities in foster care
  • Increasing communication in a variety of ways
  • Increasing family involvement in case planning

The toolkit was developed as part of the Greenbook Initiative, a project funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Justice to help communities serve families experiencing both domestic violence and child maltreatment. The El Paso County site is one of six sites implementing the best practice principles developed by the Greenbook Initiative.

The Cultural Competency Organizational Self-Assessment Toolkit is available on the Greenbook website: (PDF 507 KB)