This September the Minnesota Child Welfare Training Academy will launch a completely updated New Worker Foundations Training. One of the many components of this new training is the incorporation of Cultural Responsiveness and opportunities for learners to develop their own Cultural Competence. Recently we asked the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Team several questions that learners will likely ask. The following article is a collection of their responses.

What is Cultural Responsiveness?

  • Cultural Responsiveness is “interacting with families without making assumptions, respecting and learning from unique characteristics and strengths of families and tribes while acknowledging and honoring diversity within and across [various] cultures…” (Minnesota Child Welfare Practice Framework).
  • One of the most effective ways to address disparities in the child welfare system throughout Minnesota is to learn, understand, and explore intercultural competencies.

How Does Cultural Competence Relate to Child Welfare Services and Workers Within Minnesota?

  • One of the priorities of the Training Academy is to ensure that new and well-established child welfare workers understand the importance of cultural competence and its correlation to cultural responsiveness.
  • Cultural responsiveness is one of the first competencies highlighted within the Minnesota Child Welfare Practice Framework, with specific skills for both workers and supervisors.

How is Cultural Competence and Cultural Responsiveness Being Incorporated Into New Worker Training?

  • The Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) assessment is a tool designed to promote and understand cultural competencies. The IDI also explains how such competencies can benefit individuals, including child welfare workers, in both professional and personal life interactions.
  • Minnesota child welfare staff have the opportunity to complete the IDI assessment, to participate in a virtual debrief session, and to discuss the IDP as part of the New Worker Orientation Enhancement course.
  • Use of the IDI assessment, debrief, and Intercultural Development Plan (IDP) are just one of the many opportunities for promoting cultural responsiveness within child welfare systems.

What Can Workers Expect?

  • Working in child welfare means that workers WILL encounter different cultures and communication styles. By developing cultural competencies, workers can better understand the dynamics and conflict experienced in the field. This can lead to healthier family interactions, a better exchange of information with families, and hopefully better decisions for families and children.
  • Workers can expect to learn the difference between having a Monocultural Mindset (where one's own culture is central to reality) and having an Intercultural Mindset (being aware of different cultural behaviors and communication styles), and about the transitional space between the two.
  • Workers can expect to learn the various orientations associated with the Intercultural Development Continuum. This will help the learner understand their own cultural beliefs and understandings, and show them ways to expand and develop their own cultural competencies.
  • Workers will learn how to utilize the IDP to broaden their intercultural development with intentional planning, focus, vulnerability, and commitment. Accountability partners will be another resource that workers can utilize as part of their development this year.

How Can Supervisors Support Their Workers?

  • MNCWTA staff encourages supervisors to review and utilize the IDI and IDP overview when engaging their workers. IDI Overview for Supervisors.pdf
  • Allow workers time to work on their IDP on a routine basis and offer resources for intercultural development when available or possible.
  • Supervisors can find and promote training opportunities within or near their counties that assist with various learning opportunities mentioned in the IDP.
  • Be empathetic and listen to needs and concerns regarding challenges and capacity as workers develop their skills.
  • Training Academy staff members are currently developing a new curriculum that will focus on various ways that supervisors can support workers. Stay tuned for more information on this soon.

We know that interactions with families and children that involve topics such as race, culture, difference, etc. can be difficult, especially when it involves discussions about the welfare of children. We believe these learning opportunities will help workers have better conversations with families. We hope this article has helped create a better understanding of this exciting new addition to our curriculum, and we will continue to share more information as it becomes available.

To contact our DEI team directly, send your emails to General questions and feedback can be sent to