Cultural Relevance as Program-to-Community Alignment

A study found that three family support programs employed cultural sensitivity strategies in four key areas: attitudes, practices, policies and strategies. 

This article examined how three local family support programs implemented state cultural sensitivity standards. A large-scale evaluation encompassing the three programs provided multiple data sources; they included: program proposals, personnel demographic surveys, and an ethnography developed using staff interviews. The authors applied established criteria for cultural competence to data from the family support evaluation. This produced an etic analysis (i.e., one employing an objective framework). To gain an emic, or insider perspective, the authors conducted an in-depth analysis of qualitative data from the family support program ethnography. 

Key Findings:

  • Staff members at two of the family support programs spoke of a focus on attitudes and practices related to cultural sensitivity. Those at the other program emphasized policies and structure.
  • Cultural similarities between program staff and the community were integral to initial engagement and ongoing service delivery.

Human services programs often take a casual approach to cultural sensitivity issues. This report scrutinized underlying assumptions about cultural issues at three family support programs. The authors discussed theories of cultural engagement as a background to the study.