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September 2008Vol. 9, No. 7Cultural Competency Training in California

A project to develop cultural competency training for California's frontline child welfare workers and supervisors has provided training to approximately 800 workers who serve more than 20,000 Spanish-speaking families throughout the State. The 3-year project was funded through a grant from the Children's Bureau (for the program announcement, see Begun in 2004 by the California Institute on Human Services at Sonoma State University, the Cultural Competency for California's Child/Family Professionals (C4) project had four overarching goals:

  • Provide social workers with culturally relevant skills and strategies to improve communication with Spanish-speaking families
  • Teach social workers how to create linkages to improve families' access to culturally appropriate services
  • Follow up trainings with technical assistance to help workers implement new skills
  • Disseminate a competency-based training curriculum at the county and State levels

The C4 project began with a statewide needs assessment, research, and literature review. After this preliminary work was completed, a staff of instructional designers, an evaluator, and a trainer worked with a 12-member advisory board that included cultural competency experts from agencies and universities. This board helped in the review and testing of the newly developed curriculum. After pilot testing, training was administered at three sites throughout the State, four times a year. The training modules covered:

  • Strategies for overcoming language barriers in working with Hispanic/Latino families
  • Culturally competent safety/risk assessment
  • Community resource mapping skills and comprehensive case planning

Training fliers, a project website, and word of mouth helped promote the popularity of the free trainings. In fact, the number of requests for training was too great to address, so project staff shared the curriculum with regional training academies. Staff also did an adapted training with juvenile justice workers in one county.

Preliminary evaluations using pre- and posttests of knowledge, self-assessment, and a satisfaction questionnaire with participants showed promising results, including improved knowledge scores and self-perceptions of knowledge, a high rate of knowledge use, and a very high level of satisfaction. Key informant interviews also will be included in the final evaluation.

The continuing requests for this cultural competency training indicate that there is still an enormous need throughout the State to help child welfare professionals in their work with Spanish-speaking families. The C4 project staff suggest that their model could be replicated in other counties, and they also see a need to provide similar cultural competency training to professionals in related disciplines.

For more information about the C4 project, contact the project director:
Diane Nissen, Ph.D.
Principal Investigator
Rural Training Project
5880 Commerce Blvd., Suite 207
Rohnert Park, CA 94928

Cultural Competency for California's Child/Family Professionals (The C4 Project) was funded by the Children's Bureau, Grant 90CT0129, under the Children's Bureau Priority Area: Field Initiated Training Projects for Effective Child Welfare Practice With Hispanic Children and Families. This article is part of a series highlighting successful Children's Bureau grant-funded projects around the country, emerging from Children's Bureau site visits.