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February 2013Vol. 14, No. 1Building Cultural Competence

Researchers have proposed that developing cultural competency in caseworkers might be an effective means of addressing the issue of overrepresentation of children of color in child welfare. An article in the Journal of Public Child Welfare examines the effects of cultural competence training on child welfare caseworkers' relevant knowledge, attitudes, and applied skills.

In order to test the effects of cultural competence training on job-related capabilities, researchers provided a sample of 151 caseworkers with a 2-day course and conducted follow-up assessments on the trainees' acquired knowledge and skills. The training provided information on cultural competence and gave participants an opportunity to integrate curriculum concepts through an experiential activity. Researchers assessed changes in caseworker knowledge and attitudes using pre- and posttraining surveys. A subsample of caseworkers also participated in follow-up interviews that assessed their experiences applying information from the training to practice with families. Analyses of the data revealed the following key results:

  • The training increased participants' general cultural competence knowledge, as well as their knowledge of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).
  • The training led to more positive attitudes among caseworkers toward using culturally competent practice with families.
  • Participants expressed that the training was valuable, as it served to remind them of the importance of cultural competence in their job, and it helped strengthen their existing relevant skills.
  • Participants were more likely to discuss a general feeling that the training improved their practice rather than to identify specific changes in their day-to-day work.

The researchers provide a discussion of the results and implications for practice. The full text article, "Building Cultural Competence in the Child Welfare Workforce: A Mixed-Methods Analysis," Journal of Public Child Welfare, 6, 2012, is available for purchase via the publisher's website: