Enhancing Cultural Competence

Fatherhood and other family strengthening programs should be to design and deliver services in a culturally competent manner. Cultural competence refers to a set of knowledge, skills, and attitudes that can be developed to work with those who appear and may be different from us.

Integrating cultural competence into fatherhood programs can improve the overall effectiveness and quality of program activities in making their activities and staff respectful of and responsive to the needs of a diverse group of participants. In practicing cultural humility, rather than learning to identify and respond to sets of culturally specific traits, the culturally competent provider develops and practices a process of self-awareness and reflection.

Integrating cultural competence is an ongoing process that takes place at both the individual and organizational levels. This page provides information on how fatherhood programs can integrate cultural competency on individual and organizational levels.

Tips & Best Practices

  • Fatherhood programs are going to serve participants coming from a variety of different backgrounds. Check out this brief that outlines how social service providers can develop strategies to properly serve diverse families and communities. While this brief uses Hispanic families as an example, the highlighted strategies are applicable in working with multiple diverse populations.
  • The National Resource Center on Hispanic Children and Families developed a resource guide for service providers that fatherhood programs can use to gather information on how they can incorporate cultural competency into their programs.
  • To incorporate cultural competency into fatherhood programs it is important that staff members are properly educated and trained to work with diverse clients. Fatherhood programs should provide staff with training support, technical assistance, and follow-up to ensure that staff is comfortable and able to properly care for all types of fathers.


How can cultural competency be initiated in fatherhood programs?

Some of the first steps that fatherhood programs can take are to have the staff look at their own personal biases. This can be a way to overcome barriers to working with all clients. The organization can also begin by looking at their policies and see if they benefit some people more than others.  This handbook provides information on how to understand culture and begin the process of challenging oneself to become more aware of the ways in which culture impacts their work and the lives of those they work with.

What are common characteristics of an effective culturally competent individual?

A culturally competent individual will be comfortable with differences that exist between her/his culture and other cultures’ values and beliefs. They can also intervene appropriately and advocate on behalf of people from different cultures. Developing these abilities will take time, but the outcomes are very important.

How can you acknowledge differences in values while still being respectful?

Effective practitioners can exercise empathy by connecting with the individual as a person. They can ask questions about cultural differences with the goal of learning how different cultures can interact. This helps them gain an understanding of a variety of cultural backgrounds.


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