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Cultural Competence Exchange Newsletter

November 1999

The third annual workshop of the MCH/CSHN component of the National Center for Cultural Competence (NCCC) had new focus from this year. Previous workshops were train-the-trainer sessions designed for families, providers and administrators who had training and technical assistance responsibilities related to cultural competence within their organizations. NCCC faculty and staff, in collaboration with its federal project officer, decided on a new focus for this year?policy! In NCCC?s experience, policy is too often neglected. Yet, it is difficult, if not impossible, to provide culturally competent services within a program or system that does not have the policies in place that support structures and practices. From June 19th to 22nd, 1999, the Seattle workshop was called Cultural Competence: Implications for the Development of Policy and Guidelines for Programs Serving Children and Youth with Special Health Needs and their Families. The target audience for this year?s event were family members, providers and administrators/policy makers in a position to improve policy related to cultural competence.

The workshop focussed on four key topic areas:

  • a conceptual framework for organizational cultural competence with emphasis on the role of policy makers;
  • responding to multiple mandates regarding cultural and linguistic competence at the Federal, state, local and program levels;
  • policy and guidelines related to cultural and linguistic competence?influencing decision making; and
  • tools and strategies for addressing attitudinal bias about cultural competence.

The workshop combined plenary sessions with small group discussions to guide participants through the topical areas and help them develop next steps to take when they returned to their own organizations. Sixteen excellent faculty members, including five of whom are family members of CSHN, enriched to the workshop. The opening session included presentations by two family members on ways to ensure family participation in policy making.

The NCCC continued its innovating tradition of honoring the value culturally based and peer-to-peer learning. This year our opportunity for self-directed, interactive learning experiences and causal exchange was the Potlatch. The Potlatch is a gathering in the tradition of Native Americans of the Northwest to celebrate or honor, exchange information and resources and share with one another in a time of community.

A total of 36 participants from 19 states attended the workshop. Participants were nominated by MCH/CSHN programs, NCCC-MCH component National Advisory Board members and its MCHB/CSHN project officer. In addition, project officers of the two newest components of NCCC were invited to nominate participants for the workshop. Participants left with increased knowledge and skills, a renewed enthusiasm for influencing policy related to cultural competence, a new network for support and information and a realistic sense of the enormity of the task ahead.

Highlights of the meeting included:

  • The Cape Fox Dancers shared their Native Alaskan traditions with participants in a special performance.
  • Since the meeting was held over the Father?s Day weekend, all the "fathers" (the men who have made important contributions to improve the lives of children and families) present were honored.
  • The NCCC presented Diana Denboba, Federal Project Officer, with a special award in honor and celebration of her dedication and commitment to bringing cultural competence to the forefront of national policy in the delivery of services to children with special health care needs and their families.

Participants? Responses to the NCCC 1999 Training Workshop

Vera Frances Tait, MD Bureau Director, Children with Special Health Care Needs, Utah Department of Health, Salt Lake City, UT: It was interesting, informative, insightful and inspiring. I have used the information (written and otherwise) I learned there in our Bureau, our Multidisciplinary Diversity Committee and in our Division within the State....as we work toward cultural competence.

Leo Gaeta, MSW, Program Director, Columbia Basin Health Association, Othello, WA: In my experience, it?s rare that you find a group that not only cares about cultural competence, but is committed to working on achieving cultural competence as a standard of practice for working with diverse populations.... During this conference, it was great to be in an environment of professionals who believe and value cultural competence. Meeting people of different backgrounds and working in different positions [was helpful]. For example, Maxine Hayes and John Evans holding high level positions as well as people in the university setting as well as people at the local level.... If we are going to change how cultural diversity affects the access to services, change needs to take place on the entire system and at the different levels.

Jeff Muse, Director, Special Programs, Great Lakes Intertribal Council, Inc., Lac du Flambeau, WI: I must say, in all honesty, that my professional life has been changed.... I found the continuum for cultural competence to be the most helpful tool presented. The application within our own tribal agency will reap benefits that will spread to the smaller communities as well as the counties and the state.

Heather McNeal, Community Health Nurse, Clackamas County Public Health Division, Oregon City, OR: I don?t think I have ever been with a group of people so comfortable talking about personal and painful situations [related to cultural, racial and ethnic differences]. We haven?t decided, in our state, what we are going to do, but we may look at the staff completing a cultural competence self-assessment process. Our ongoing Cultural Competence Committee develops a plan each year, which is currently addressing the needs of a growing Hispanic population.

Carolyn Harris, Family Consultant, Health Care Program for Children with Special Health Care Needs, Denver, CO: The structure of the conference allowed for me to really integrate the information and also provided opportunities for me to try out some of the activities that might be tried in our state in relation to cultural competence. The networking provided some good support for me and I really felt like there were people I could call on later to talk about cultural competence issues. Finally, the issues presented and materials you gave us were really well done and provided something to take home with us to continue our learning and working on cultural competence.

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Page last modified December 1999

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