FoundationsPolicies to Advance and Sustain Cultural and Linguistic Competence

“It is extremely difficult to be a culturally competent provider in an organization or system that does not support you with policy, structures, and resources.”

Tawara Goode, 2006

The National Center for Cultural Competence (NCCC) has documented that policy is the most underdeveloped area of the many cultural competence efforts within health and mental health care systems. The NCCC has identified organizational policy as key to supporting culturally and linguistically competent practice.

Policy is key because it:

  • sets the mission and vision of organizations,
  • supports the practitioners with resources to implement culturally and linguistically competent practice,
  • measures the success of practitioners and the organization in terms of how it serves diverse families,
  • and institutionalizes cultural and linguistic competence in the organization.

The need for culturally and linguistically competent health and mental health systems has been strongly reaffirmed recently by the highest levels of the U.S. government, the National Academy of Science, independent commissions, and professional associations and accreditation organizations. In fact, some organizations are progressing along the continuum to develop these policies, sometimes in partnership with the diverse communities they serve.

The NCCC has developed several policy briefs, guides, and checklists which discuss the importance of policies, structures, procedures, and practices to support cultural and linguistic competence.

For more information, see our resources page (pay specific attention to our policy briefs).