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Children's Medical Services - Special services for children with special needs
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Cultural Competence

The term cultural competence refers to the ability to work effectively with individuals and families from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds, or in settings where several cultures coexist. It includes the ability to understand the language, culture, and behaviors of other individuals and groups, and to make appropriate recommendations.

Cultural sensitivity, which is a necessary component of cultural competence, means that health care professionals make an effort to be aware of the potential and actual cultural factors that affect their interactions with families. It also means that they are willing to design programs and materials and to make recommendations that are culturally relevant and culturally specific.

And why is it important?

Cultural competency is one the main ingredients in providing quality health care to our children. It's the way families and providers can come together and talk about health concerns without cultural differences hindering the conversation. Quite simply, health care services that are respectful of and responsive to the health beliefs, practices and cultural needs of diverse families can help bring about positive health outcomes.

Culture and language may influence:

  • health, healing, and wellness belief systems;
  • how illness, disease, and their causes are perceived; both by the child/family and
  • the behaviors of children/families who are seeking health care and their attitudes toward health care providers;
  • as well as the delivery of services by the provider who looks at the world through his or her own limited set of values, which can compromise access for patients from other cultures.

With the increasing diversity in Florida's population, children and their families are more likely to encounter situations that require culturally competent care, access to a vast array of language services, and supportive health care programs. Providers and families each bring their individual patterns of language and culture to the health care experience and, with cultural competency, provides equal access and quality health care to our children.


National Center for Cultural Competence (NCCC)