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Enhancing Cultural Competence and Improving Our Understanding of the Diverse Populations We Serve


Photo of two Hispanic women working at a table.By Ann C. Rivera, Ph.D., Social Science Research Analyst, Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation

Cultural competence is an ongoing developmental process relevant at all levels of social service organizations. It involves constant self-reflection and learning to build the awareness, knowledge and skills to better understand, communicate with, and serve culturally diverse children and families.

Our brief summarizing cultural competence research describes how intentional actions taken at the broadest levels of organizations can promote this process at the staff level and in program design, implementation, and evaluation. Program administrators can implement various strategies including:

  • Develop vision and mission statements that embrace diversity
  • Form collaborative partnerships with communities
  • Conduct needs assessments of communities served
  • Recruit, mentor, promote, and retain diverse staff
  • Use culturally knowledgeable translators and consultants

This brief also highlights particular strategies for enhancing cultural responsiveness with Hispanic communities.

An additional brief describes ten survey data elements that can increase understanding of the diversity within Hispanic populations in the United States. These data elements would enable surveys to capture important social experiences that relate strongly to needs, service experiences, and outcomes among Hispanics.

Both briefs are a result of the efforts of OPRE’s Hispanic Research Work Group. Related efforts include recent awards establishing the National Research Center on Hispanic Children & Families and the Human Services Research Partnership: Puerto Rico.

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