Professionals, family, youth advocates, and others supporting youth and their families in the transition process will display cultural and linguistic competence in the following ways:
The following data are from the 2005-2006 National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs. Hispanic and non-Hispanic black youth ages 12-17 are significantly less likely than non-Hispanic white youth to have received services needed for transition to adult health care, work, and independence. While 46.5% of non-Hispanic white youth with special health care needs ages 12-17 were reported to have received these services, only 26.3% of Hispanic and 28.7% of non-Hispanic black youth achieved this outcome. For Hispanic youth for whom Spanish was reported as their household language, the disparity is even more dramatic—only 11.6% of these youth had families who reported receiving these services. This same pattern of disparities can be seen across a range of transition services including receiving anticipatory guidance for transition to adult health care, having doctors discuss health needs as the youth become an adult, and having doctors discuss how to maintain insurance coverage as the youth enters adulthood.
CSHCN ages 12-17 who receive services needed for transition to adult health care, work and independence
Race/Ethnicity of Child
Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative. 2005/06 National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs, Data Resource Center for Child and Adolescent Health website. Retrieved [11/25/2010 from www.cshcndata.org]
Successful transition may include employment, a key component of Outcome 6. For those youth with special health care needs who have a disability, employment prospects are poorer than for other youth. In 2009 the unemployment rate for persons with a disability was 14.5 percent , compared with 9.0 percent for those with no disability. However, as with the general population, there are racial and ethnic disparities in unemployment as well. The unemployment rates in 2009 for those with a disability were higher among blacks (22.1 percent) and Hispanics (19.0 percent) than among whites (13.3 percent) and Asians (11.6 percent) (Bureau of Labor Statistics, August 25, 2010).
Transition policies and practices frequently reflect the individualistic orientation of “mainstream” culture in the United States. Thus transition policies, practices, and services may assume that all youth with special health care needs and their families value such individual oriented outcomes as self-determination, self-reliance, and independent living. These outcomes may not reflect those of cultural groups, individuals, and families who value collectivism. Individualistic cultures view the process of development for youth as moving from dependence to independence and self-reliance. In contrast, collectivistic cultures see development as moving from dependence to interdependence. (Ewalt and Mokuau, 1995).
Values associated with individualism:
Values associated with collectivism:
These differing sets of values may play out in transition in a number of ways. For example, the concept of self-determination may be viewed very differently in different cultures (Zhang, 2005). For some youth and families, a goal of individual choice may conflict with cultural values that support group or hierarchical decision-making. This cultural norm may apply to all adults in that group, so that transition to adulthood is not necessarily defined by independent decision-making. Collectivistic world views may value contributing to the family through wages and housework over post-secondary education. Residing with family and kin groups may be valued over living on one’s own. For example, Rueda et al (2005) found that Latina mothers believed the concept of independent living after high school was completely inappropriate, because marriage marked youth adult independence and moving out of the family home. The mothers in the study indicated that employment was not considered particularly relevant, but self-sufficiency in terms of meeting personal needs was. Some African American, Asian, and Hispanic families resist out of home placement and permanency planning based on a philosophy of family interdependence (Harry, et al., 1999). Even the process of transition reflects cultural values. For some families, creating a transition plan is meaningful if it involves a close personal relationship among youth, family, and professionals rather than creating a written plan (Leake, et al, 2004).
The literature has identified a concept related to immigrant families called the acculturation gap. Sluzki (1979) described the task of an immigrant family as “reshaping its new reality, maximizing both the family’s continuity in terms of identity and its compatibility with the environment”. (p.384) This process of acculturation may have four potential outcomes. (Berry, 1990). These outcomes include: 1) assimilation (strong identification with the dominant new culture and weak ties to the original ethnic culture); 2) separation (rejection of the dominant culture); 3) integration (identification with both cultures); and 4) marginalization (immigrant rejects both cultures). Within families, members may have very different outcomes in the acculturation process. Parents are more likely to hold on to original values and children are more likely to embrace the values and norms of their new cultural environment. ( Herz and Gullone, 1999; Shapiro, et al, 1999.) However, within families, siblings may be at very different places in acculturation. This difference has been called dissonant acculturation or the acculturation gap. (Portes and Rumbout, 1996; Birman, 2006a, 2006,b; Lau, et al, 2005). The acculturation gap has been reported to contribute to emotional and behavioral problems in children of immigrant parents (Lim et al , 2011) and create conflict between generations as the parents fear that their children will become too Americanized and forget their cultural roots. (Zhou, 1997) While the bulk of the research has related to acculturation gaps for children in families of immigrant parents, the same phenomenon can be observed in families who have strong values and live in the state of separation from the dominant culture, such as religious groups, racial groups and even families making a geographic move, such as rural families moving to the city.
Culturally competent planning and support for transition needs to take into account the issue of acculturation and the acculturation gap. It cannot be assumed that all youth and parents will experience this gap and many youth hold on to traditional values while also embracing aspects of the dominant culture. It can be tempting for professionals from the dominant culture to support the youth’s values in the name of helping the youth become more autonomous and independent. However, a key task of culturally competent transition approaches is to identify any gap and to help the family negotiate the transition process together. If familial values are spurned in the transition process, there is the risk that families will pull out of the process or that youth may become alienated from the family support they need.
Berry, J. (1990). Acculturation and adaptation: A general framework. In W. H. Holtzman & T. H. Bornemann (Eds.), Mental health of immigrants and refugees (pp. 90-102). Austin, TX: Hogg Foundation for Mental Health.
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irman, D. (2006b). Measurement of the “acculturation gap” in immigrant families and implications for parent-child relationships. In M. H. Bornstein & L.R. Cote (eds.), Acculturation and parent-child relationships: Measurement and development (pp. 113-134). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Bureau of Labor Statistics ( August 25, 2010) Persons with a Disability: Labor Force Characteristics-2009. News Release, Washington, DC: United States Department of Labor.
Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative. 2005/06 National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs, Data Resource Center for Child and Adolescent Health website. Retrieved [11/25/2010] from www.cshcndata.org
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