The Provision of Culturally Competent Services in the School Setting
Culturally competent educators and related services personnel are aware and
respectful of the importance of the values, beliefs, traditions, customs, and
parenting styles of the children and families they serve. They are also aware
of the impact of their own culture on their interactions with others and take
all of these factors into account when planning and delivering services to children
and their families.
At the Policymaking Level
Culturally competent policymakers:
- appoint board members from the community so that
voices from all groups of people within the community participate in decisions;
- actively recruit multiethnic and multiracial staff;
- provide ongoing staff training and support developing
- develop, mandate, and promote standards for culturally
- insist on evidence of cultural competence when
contracting for services;
- nurture and support new community-based multicultural
programs and engage in or support research on cultural competence;
- support the inclusion of cultural competence on
provider licensure and certification examinations; and
- support the development of culturally appropriate
assessment instruments for psychological tests and interview guides.
At the Administrative Level
Culturally competent administrators:
- include cultural competency requirements in staff
job descriptions and discuss the importance of cultural awareness and competency
with potential employees;
- ensure that all staff participate in regular, inservice
cultural competency training;
- promote programs that respect and incorporate cultural
- consider whether the facility's physical plant,
hours, and staffing are accessible and whether its physical appearance is
respectful of different cultural groups.
At the Service Level
Educators and related services personnel who are culturally competent:
- learn as much as they can about a student's or
family's culture, while recognizing the influence of their own background
on their responses to cultural differences;
- include neighborhood and community outreach efforts
and involve community cultural leaders if possible;
- work within each student's family structure, which
may include grandparents, other relatives, and friends;
- recognize, accept, and when appropriate, incorporate
the role of community volunteers;
- understand the different expectations people may
have about the way services are offered (for example, a period of social
conversation may be necessary before each contact with a person; or access
to a family may be gained only through an elder); and
- adhere to traditions relating to gender and age
that may play a part in certain cultures (for example, in many racial and
ethnic groups, elders are highly respected). With an awareness of how different
groups show respect, providers can properly interpret the various ways people
Cultural Competence Checklist for Success
- Make the educational environment more welcoming
and attractive based on families' cultural mores.
- Avoid stereotyping and misapplication of scientific
- Include community input at the planning and development
stage of projects.
- Use educational approaches and materials that will
capture the attention of your intended audience.
- Find ways to partner with the community.
- Understand there is no recipe.
- Hire staff that reflect the client population.
- Understand cultural competency is continually evolving.
- Be creative in finding ways to communicate with
population groups that have limited English-speaking proficiency.
This fact sheet is based
on a monograph, Towards a Culturally Competent System of Care, authored
by Terry L. Cross, Karl W. Dennis, Mareasa R. Isaacs, and Barbara J. Bazron,
under the auspices of the National Technical Assistance Center for Children's
Mental Health at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and funded by
the National Institute of Mental Health (1989). Website: National Center for Cultural Competence