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On the Road to Social Transformation: Cultural Competency Training

Cultural Competency Training: Utilizing Cultural and Community Strengths to End Domestic Violence, Phase II. In 2007, Alianza formed a Cultural Competency Task Force to determine how best to assist domestic violence service providers in developing culturally responsive services that would more adequately address the needs of Latina survivors of domestic violence and their families. The work of the Task Force led to the development of a document entitled On the Road to Social Transformation: Utilizing Cultural and Community Strengths to End Domestic Violence and a companion training curriculum entitled On the Road to Social Transformation: A Cultural Competency Training Curriculum for Domestic Violence Service Providers and Advocates, in 2008 and 2009, respectively.1

Following the completion of the Phase I curriculum, Alianza conducted a series of pilot trainings in various parts of the country. Feedback from the trainee organizations helped us in developing Phase II of the Utilizing Cultural and Community Strengths to End Domestic Violence Curriculum and training materials.

Our underlying goal with both of these curricula and trainings is to assist service providers in strengthening their commitment and capacity to better serve Latino families and individuals, including immigrants, affected by domestic violence and to ensure that they are served in a culturally and linguistically sensitive and responsive manner.

The Phase II Curriculum and training is organized around four sessions that contain recommendations and tools that can be used to develop and/or enhance an organization's policies, programs and services. Included in the package are numerous handouts (training materials), a Power Point presentation, descriptions of various "promising practices," and a List of Resources. The sessions are:

  • Conducting a Cultural Competency Self-Assessment: explains the need for organizations to assess their beliefs, behaviors, policies, structures and practices. What are your organization's strengths/assets? What gaps exist? How well do you know your target community? What ties do you have with the target community? What are your short- and long-term goals for organizational diversity, eliminating disparities and creating culturally competent services? What resources do you have, need and how can you obtain them?

  • Getting to Know the Community: offers recommendations for identifying the demographic make-up of the community. Who are its residents, what are their needs? What services and resources exist for the target population(s)? Who are the key community leaders and stakeholders? What does the community know about family violence and what are their beliefs and attitudes? This section also describes several assessment tools for gathering this information.

  • Engaging the Community: explores ways to introduce your organization to the community and gain its respect and trust; ways to enlist the support of key agencies, institutions, and leaders, how to develop avenues for them to offer feedback; and how to get the community to develop "ownership" of the issue.

  • Program Design—Developing Programs That Work: looks at key elements that help an organization create organizational diversity, eliminate disparities that may exist, and create culturally competent programming that is responsive to the actual needs of the communities served. It also stresses the need for organization-wide commitment to making the needed changes, including Boards that are diverse and representative of the communities served; policies that state the organization's commitments; hiring and retaining bilingual and culturally sensitive staff; providing services that are responsive to the cultural and linguistic needs of its clients; building collaborations, partnerships and key alliances within the communities served, etc.

  • This session looks closely at two important elements of Program Design: Accessibility and Outreach and provides tools that can help programs implement measures to ensure that their programs and services are accessible to all the populations they serve.

    • Accessibility: this session discusses the need for organizations to ensure that their services are accessible to all population(s) they serve; cites laws and guidelines that mandate accessibility; and gives examples of steps that can be taken to enhance accessibility, including providing interpretation services, establishing flexible hours of operation, providing a welcoming environment, offering childcare for program participants and providing services at non-traditional locations.

    • Outreach: discusses steps to help plan and conduct successful outreach to Latino communities (survivors, family members, allies) and descriptions of specific implementation strategies and approaches. This section also describes how the use of the Promotoras model of outreach in Latino communities (peer health educators, community health workers, peer leaders, peer outreach workers) has proven successful in reaching out to underserved populations, including Latino communities, immigrant communities, and farmworker communities.

[1] Both documents were authored by Elsa A. Rios, under the guidance of Alianza’s Cultural Competency Task Force,  http://www.dvalianza.org/informational-booklets.html