A Guide for Developing and Enhancing Community Oral Health Programs  
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Step 3. Determine Priorities and Plan the Program

B. Plan for Integration of Cultural Competence

Given the ever-increasing diversity of America’s population and documented evidence of the significant disparities in health outcomes experienced by various population groups, an essential component of program planning is cultural competence.

There are many definitions of cultural competence, all of which share similar themes. The Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA’s) Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) defines cultural competence as “a set of values, behaviors, attitudes, and practices within a system, organization, and program or among individuals which enables them to work effectively cross culturally. Further, cultural competence refers to the ability to honor and respect the beliefs, language, interpersonal styles and behaviors of individuals and families receiving services, as well as staff who are providing such services.”12

Striving to achieve cultural competence is a dynamic, ongoing, developmental process that requires a long-term commitment. Cultural competence must be considered at the health-services-system, organizational, and program levels. Cultural competence must be integrated into policymaking, infrastructure building, program administration and evaluation, and delivery of services.

This integration of cultural competence requires a review of mission statements; policies and procedures, administrative practices; staff recruitment, hiring. and retention practices; professional development and in-service training, translation and interpretation processes, family/professional/community partnerships; health care practices and interventions addressing racial/ethnic health disparities and access issues; health education and promotion practices/materials; and community and state needs-assessment protocols. At the individual level, cultural competences necessitates an examination of one’s own attitudes and values, and the acquisition of the values, knowledge, skills, and attributes that allow an individual to work appropriately in cross-cultural situations.

Resources to help ensure the cultural competence of oral health programs include the following:

California Endowment. The California Endowment, a conversion foundation, has developed a number of publications to promote cultural competence, including A Manager’s Guide to Cultural Competency Education for Health Care Professionals.

National Center for Cultural Competency (NCCC). NCCC provides materials (including definitions, conceptual models, guiding values, and principles) to promote the integration of cultural competence. Also available are tools and processes for self-assessment of cultural competence and guidance for getting started.

National Initiative Children’s Healthcare Quality (NICHQ). NICHQ offers the Improving Cultural Competency in Children’s Health Care change package and findings.

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Table of Contents Appendices AACDP References Home Appendices References Conclusion Step 6 Step 5 Step 4 Step 3 Step 2 Executive Summary Overview Step 1 Acknowledgements