• October 2009
  • Vol. 10, No. 8

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Direct Service and Organizational Cultural Competence Strategies

A recent study examined how mental health services organizations provide culturally competent services for racially and ethnically diverse children and families. The findings may be useful for other social services organizations seeking to increase their cultural competence and services for a diverse population. Researchers interviewed personnel, funders, community partners, and family members at each of 12 study sites. The results are presented in terms of increasing service availability for diverse populations, including African-Americans, Asian and Pacific Islanders, Latinos, and Native Americans.

Direct service strategies found to increase services for these groups included:

  • Interpretation and translation services
  • Racial/ethnic service matching
  • Ethnic-specific organization partnerships
  • Cultural and spiritual resources
  • Consultation/cultural brokering
  • Trust and relationship building

Researchers also identified a number of organizational infrastructure strategies that agencies could implement internally, including:

  • Strategic hiring decisions
  • Cultural competence training
  • A supportive work environment
  • Staff training and development
  • Flexible service provision
  • Education and advocacy

Both direct service and organizational strategies are necessary to increase cultural competence. Direct service strategies can make services comfortable and responsive to families, while organizational strategies support staff efforts to provide these services.

The full study, Serving Everyone at the Table: Strategies for Enhancing the Availability of Culturally Competent Mental Health Service, by Janis Prince Inniss et al., was published by the Research & Training Center for Children’s Mental Health, University of South Florida, and is available on the website:

http://rtckids.fmhi.usf.edu/rtcpubs/CulturalCompetence/availability/Availability-Monograph.pdf (529 KB)

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