Course Support Material: What is Multiculturalism and Cultural Competency?

Course Support Material: What is Multiculturalism and Cultural Competency? Multiculturalism is “the view that the various cultures in a society merit equal respect and scholarly interest”. Cultural competence is a set of congruent behaviors, attitudes, and policies that come together in a

system, agency or among professionals and enable that system, agency or those professions to work effectively in cross-cultural situations. The word culture is used because it implies the integrated pattern of human behavior that includes thoughts, communications, actions, customs,

beliefs, values, and institutions of a racial, ethnic, religious, or social group. The word competence is used because it implies having the capacity to function effectively. Five essential elements contribute to a system’s institution’s, or agency’s ability to become more culturally competent

which include: Valuing diversity Having the capacity for cultural self-assessment Being conscious of the dynamics inherent when cultures interact Having institutionalized culture knowledge Having developed adaptations to service delivery reflecting an understanding of cultural diversity These five elements should be manifested at every level of an organization including policy-making, administrative, and practice.

Further, these elements should be reflected in the attitudes, structures, policies, and services of the organization. Cross, T., Bazron, B., Dennis, K., & Isaacs, M., (1989). Towards A Culturally Competent System of Care, Volume I. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Child Development Center, CASSP Technical Assistance Center.