Friday, September 26, 2014

Social Work and Cultural Competence

What is cultural competence? According to Wikipedia, cultural competence "refers to an ability to interact effectively with people of different cultures and socio-economic backgrounds, particularly in the context of human resources, non-profit organizations, and government agencies whose employees work with persons from different cultural/ethnic backgrounds." Teaching cultural competence has become increasingly important for educational and social work professionals who interact with individuals, families, groups, and communities from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds. The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) believe:
Culturally competent services are needed beyond race and ethnicity. Culturally competent social workers are also better able to address issues of gender and help persons with disabilities, older adults, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender people. A working knowledge of these groups’ cultures and values helps social workers tailor care so it is effective and appropriate for their clients’ needs.

Hall wrote an excellent article on teaching cultural competence in the classroom on The New Social Worker. Furthermore, the NASWpublished a standards guidebook about cultural competence in social work practice. For social workers preparing for the licensure exams, the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) define the terms diversity and cultural competence.

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