The Cultural and Linguistic Competence in EarlyCare and Education Settings and ECMHC

The Cultural and Linguistic Competence in EarlyCare and Education Settings and ECMHC

Businesspeople around table

Since the birth of Head Start in 1965, programs have served culturally and linguistically diverse populations. In the beginning of the program, these populations were primarily Spanish-speaking families.  According to the Office of Head Start, currently “over 140 languages are spoken by children and families in Head Start and the number of cultures represented is even greater” (Early Head Start National Resource Center @ ZERO TO THREE, p.6).   Such diversity presents a challenge in providing an early care and education program and early childhood mental health consultation (ECMHC) services that respond effectively to each family’s and community’s racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds.
In response to this increased diversity, administrators have the responsibility to value, recognize, plan for, and address cultural and linguistic diversity in their program’s values and principles, community assessment, design, staff selection and preparation, curriculum, and all services to support young children and families.  These services include early childhood mental health consultation. We have developed several resources to assist administrators in these areas.

On-line Tutorial: Cultural and Linguistic Competence in Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation

While the primary audience for the tutorial is early childhood mental health consultants working in Head Start and other early childhood settings, administrators may find this tutorial useful for increasing their understanding the:

  • Context of culture and its influence on the values, beliefs, child rearing practices and expectations of families and program staff for expectant families, child development, and social-emotional health and well-being;
  • Key components that facilitate culturally competent mental health consultation;
  • Relevant aspects of consultant preparation, knowledge, skills, and attributes that will enhance the effectiveness of consultation in diverse communities; and
  • How cultural and linguistic diversity impact ECMHC practices and the work of consultation.

Checklists: The Cultural and Linguistic Competence Self-Assessment Checklists for Early Head Start and Head Start Program Administrators and Managers

These tools are designed to assist managers and administrators to assess the extent to which they demonstrate integration of cultural and linguistic competence into values, and attitudes, communication styles and the physical environment. Additional self-assessment items address approaches to support staff and consultants in their journey towards cultural and linguistic competence.  Each of the sections provides real examples of the kinds of values and practices that foster culturally and linguistically competent Early Head Start and Head Start environments.

We have provided links to additional resources below.

  1. My Values And Attitudes – Supporting Staff
  2. Communication Styles – Supporting Staff
  3. Physical Environments, Materials, And Resources – Supporting Staff
  4. Cultural and Linguistic Competence Self Assessment Checklist (PDF)
This product was developed [in part] under grant number 1H79SM082070-01 from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The views, policies and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of SAMHSA or HHS.