The Minnesota Child Welfare Practice Framework is a series of competencies that help child welfare professionals define and demonstrate their knowledge, skills, and understanding across a number of different practice areas. In Minnesota, child welfare practice is guided by this practice framework, which offers outcomes, values, principles and skills necessary to promote child safety, permanency, and well-being.
In this article we want to look at the worker competencies associated with Cultural Responsiveness, to discuss how they relate to our work, and to provide resources for developing those competencies. Cultural Responsiveness states the expectation that workers demonstrate knowledge of and sensitivity to the dynamics of diversity, respecting and learning from the unique characteristics and strengths of families and tribes, and applying these concepts and skills to enhance individual and family functioning. Easier said than done, it is important that workers know that many of us struggle with cultural competency, that we all make mistakes, and there is always more to learn. While competencies hold professionals to a specific standard of practice, they also provide a roadmap for growth and advanced professional development.
The Practice Framework lists fourteen foundational competencies for Cultural Responsiveness. Following are two examples:
- Become familiar with the children’s families’ beliefs, values, race, ethnicity, history, tribe, culture, religion, world view and language (example of skills and experiential mastery)
- Understand that different cultural communities seek alternatives to termination of parental rights as permanency solutions such as customary adoption and transfer of legal guardianship (example of knowledge and conceptual mastery)
Beyond the foundational competencies, the Framework also provides advanced level competencies, with one example stating:
- Demonstrate awareness of systemic biases such as racial disproportionality in the child welfare service population, and is familiar with services and programs designed to mitigate those biases.
Refer to pages 5-6 of the Minnesota Child Welfare Practice Framework to review all competencies related to Cultural Responsiveness, and consider ways to develop your own knowledge and skills. Following are several resources to explore.
- Maxie Rockymore, Foster Care Program Manager from the Minnesota Department of Human Services, shares her thoughts in this video to better understand cultural responsiveness and how you can better develop this competency.
- Social worker Jessica Pryce shares a promising practice to help child welfare agencies make bias-free assessments about when to remove children from their families.
- Promoting Racial Equality Through Workforce and Organizational Actions (PDF) infographic that specifically addresses racial equity.
- Culturally Responsive Child Welfare Practice issue of CW360°, created in partnership with the Center for Regional and Tribal Child Welfare Studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth, reflects a belief of the Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare (CASCW) that the field needs to move beyond this to examine how culture can be used to make a difference in our work with all families.
- Perspectives on Indigenous Child Welfare in Minnesota Video Series highlights frontline perspectives of Indigenous Child Welfare in Minnesota, and features interviews with current and former ICWA workers and supervisors about their experience supporting families in child welfare.
- Families from Refugee Populations–Best Practices Guide is intended as an overview of selected topics that are relevant to providing culturally responsive services to families with refugee backgrounds and understanding their unique needs.
- Minnesota’s Child Protection System: From the Voices of Refugee Community Members (4-Part Series) interviews are conducted with members from four of Minnesota’s largest refugee communities (Somali, Karen, Oromo, and Nepali-Bhutanese) in which the community members discuss their communities’ interactions with child protection services.
If you have discovered other resources for developing competencies in cultural responsiveness, please share! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. With a better understanding of the competencies for front-line workers and their supervisors, we can reflect the specific knowledge and skills necessary for culturally-responsive, trauma-informed, and developmentally-based work with children, families, communities, and tribes across Minnesota.