Supporting Organizational Structures and Programmatic Approaches

Supporting Organizational Structures and Programmatic Approaches

Infant with building blocks

In the larger context of an early childhood program, consultants can use their knowledge, skills, attributes, and perspective on cultural and linguistic competence to support organizational structures and programmatic approaches that are responsive to cultural and linguistic diversity. Consultants can provide programmatic consultation and work with ECE directors and staff in efforts to design and implement responsive ECE program services and practices.

As a first step, consultants should participate in or review the data gathered by the Head Start or ECE program community assessment or program self-assessment. This data, including geographic, cultural, linguistic, and racial composition of the community as well as culturally relevant community resources, will inform the mental health consultation services approach, design, and delivery.

Lessons learned related to cultural and linguistic competence and access to services ongoing work in mental health, health, and other organizations that serve young children and families are relevant to ECE programs and organizations. Some of these lessons learned and findings from the research include the importance of:

  • Providing racial/ethnic specific services and racial/ethnic matches when appropriate,
  • Making translation and interpretation services available,
  • Integrating cultural and spiritual practices into services,
  • Hiring staff from within the diverse communities served, and
  • Training and supporting staff in cultural competence and service delivery
  • Educating parents about the implications of diversity for child rearing and child care and orienting parents to the child care setting.
  • Engaging individuals from the served communities in program design and policy decisions.

(Chang, H. & Tobiassen, D., 2000; Prince Inniss, J. et al, 2009)

Within the ECE program, another step in culture focused programmatic consultation would include encouraging the ECE program administrator and staff leadership team to complete a self-assessment tool such as the Cultural and Linguistic Competence Self-Assessment Checklist for Early Head Start and Head Start Program Administrators.  This tool is 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. In these ways, and others, consultants can help influence ECE program practices that, in turn, support cultural and linguistically competent ECE services as well as mental health consultation to staff, children, and families.

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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.