A System of Care Guide to Implementing Cultural and Linguistic Competence
Cultural and linguistic competence (CLC) is a core value of system of care (SOC) communities. It is defined as: “a set of congruent behaviors, attitudes, and policies that come together in a system, agency, or amongst professionals and enables that system, agency, or those professionals to work effectively in cross-cultural situations.”1 Cultural and linguistic competence is the responsibility of every SOC team member, the governance structure and community partners. All should be champions of promoting, infusing and implementing CLC within their system and broader community. This guide informs how the CLC Coordinator and all SOC individuals and agencies can partner to infuse CLC throughout their child-and youth-serving systems.
A Treatment Improvement Protocol: Improving Cultural Competence
The development of culturally responsive clinical skills is vital to the effectiveness of behavioral health services. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), cultural competence “refers to the ability to honor and respect the beliefs, languages, interpersonal styles, and behaviors of individuals and families receiving services, as well as staff members who are providing such services. Cultural competence is a dynamic, ongoing developmental process that requires a long-term commitment and is achieved over time”(HHS 2003a, p. 12). It has also been called “a set of behaviors, attitudes, and policies that . . . enable a system, agency, or group of professionals to work effectively in crosscultural situations”(Cross et al. 1989, p. 13).
Cultural & Linguistic Competence: Implementation Guide
Findings from Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General (2001) indicate that mental health disparities are inextricably linked to race, culture, and ethnicity. People of color, as well as members of other underserved cultural groups, have less access to, and availability of, mental health services. Even when services are available, members of these groups tend to receive a poorer quality of care that does not meet their unique needs. These findings were further supported in the President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health Report (2003). As a result, addressing disparities in mental health treatment was established as one of the main goals of the New Freedom Initiative (NFI), which recommends a fundamental transformation of the nation’s approach to mental health. The NFI mandates the provision of necessary services and supports to enable all Americans with mental illness, including people of color and other diverse groups, to live, work, learn, and participate fully in their homes and communities. In response to this mandate, the Child, Adolescent and Family Branch (CAFB) of the Center for Mental Health Services established the delivery of culturally and linguistically competent services as a priority for the CAFB, its program partners, and system of care communities.