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Developing ‘Cultural Sensitive’ Practice in Child Protection when working with CALD communities. Ms Jatinder Kaur M. Soc. Admin, B.A. ( Psy ). Introduction & Background.
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Developing ‘Cultural Sensitive’ Practice in Child Protection when working with CALD communities Ms JatinderKaur M. Soc. Admin, B.A. (Psy)
Introduction & Background Australia’s population is increasingly becoming more diverse, whereby Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reported in 2006: • Number of persons born overseas increased to 4.4 million • Over the past 5 years (2001-2005) Australia has settled approximately 176 00 of humanitarian refugee entrants from war torn countries (Sudan, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan and Iraq) • Australia is one of most linguistically diverse countries in the world, some 400 languages are spoken • Inevitably professionals working in child protection authorities will come into contact with families from CALD backgrounds
Increase in number of child protection notifications • The number of child protection notifications has doubled over the past 6 years in Australia • In 2007: there were approximately 28,441 children and young people in out-of-home care, double the number of 10 years ago (Australian Institute of Health & Welfare, 2007) • These reports do not reflect the number of children from CALD background who have entered the child protection system across Australia.
Invisibility of CALD children in Child Protection System There is an assumption that CALD communities are possibly under-represented in reported incidences of child abuse. The S.A. Our Best Investment: State Plan to Protect and Advance the interests of children (2003) report notes CALD children are invisible for the following reasons : • They do not come into contact with services due to fears of Government, particularly families that have fled war torn/oppressive regimes; • They have limited awareness of access to services in child protection; • They have limited understanding of concepts of legislation, practices of Child Protection; • Service providers do not have the skills to pick up CALD children's protective needs; • Services coming into CALD communities may be reluctant to report child abuse concerns due to fear of how mainstream services may treat CALD families/impact of reporting may have on the services' relationship with community
Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) CALD – is commonly used to describe people who have a cultural heritage different from that of the majority of people from the dominant Anglo-Australian culture ( DChS practice paper – working with CALD families, 2006) In Australia both terms, Non English Speaking Background (NESB) and CALD are commonly used for migrants and refugees; In the US, people of colour are identified by their race (African American, Native America, Hispanic, Black) In the UK, Non-Anglo communities are identified as being from ethnic minorities, South Asian, ‘Black’/Afro-Caribbean, However these terms of reference are not inclusive or sensitive to the variations between cultures and language identity
What is Culture? Culture is defined as: “ an integrated pattern of human behaviour that includes thoughts, communications, actions, customs, beliefs, values and institutions of racial, ethnic, religious or social group” (Cross, Bazron, Dennis & Isaacs, 1989) Ethnic Culture is defined as: “ language, worldview, dress, food and styles of communication, notions of wellness, healing techniques, childrearing patters and self-identity” (Abney, 2002)
Cultural Sensitivity The cultural sensitive approach in social work entails a recognition that all clients regardless of their cultural background will have as much in common yet they will have different ‘worldview's (Lee & Greene, 1999) Cultural sensitivity also implies an understanding by practitioners of the impact of racism and racial abuse, ways of challenging this at an institutional and individual level (Thoburn, Chand, Procter, 2005) Overcoming racism requires intervention at the personal, institutional and cultural levels (Dominelli, 2000).
Cultural Sensitivity continued Children and families who are from CALD backgrounds may have been negatively affected by oppression, prejudice and discrimination. Caseworkers need to understand how these concepts inter-relate to avoid further marginalization of these families (Connolly, Crichton-Hill, Ward, 2006). Therefore, the caseworker needs to be aware and have an understanding of these concepts and how they impact on CALD communities in the child protection context.
Cultural Competence “A culturally competent system of care acknowledges and incorporates – at all levels – the importance of culture, the assessment of cross-cultural relations, vigilance towards the dynamics that result from cultural differences, the expansion of cultural knowledge and the adaptation of services to meet culturally-unique needs” (Cross et al, 1989) Cultural competence approach focuses on developing culture-specific concepts, knowledge and techniques from within the specific context (Lee & Green, 1999)
Cultural Competence Attainment Model for child welfare practice – Ann McPhatter (1997) “Cultural Competence’ has the ability to transform knowledge and cultural awareness into health, psychosocial interventions that support and sustain healthy client-system functioning within appropriate cultural context “(McPhatter, 1997) The cultural competence attainment model identified three elements: • Enlightened Consciousness; • Grounded Knowledge Base; • Cumulative Skill Proficiency, as essential skills in developing cultural competence and culturally effectiveness when working with non-Anglo families
Cultural Reflective Approach Connolly et al,(2006) propose a ‘cultural reflective’ approach: ‘reflecting on cultural thinking can challenge unhelpful attitudes and practices that have the potential to create cultural misunderstandings…. using critically reflective process can help to dislodge beliefs underpinning assessments when they are no longer relevant to the changed practice environment’ Connolly et al,(2006) further argue, the benefits of this approach as allowing ‘professional interpretation, consolidate professional knowledge, build practice wisdom and provide a sense of ‘being on track’ (p41) when working with CALD families.
Background to the Research Study In November/December 2006, research was conducted with frontline statutory child protection caseworkers employed in the Queensland Department of Child Safety. The author designed and developed the Cross Cultural Child Protection Survey (CCCPS) 2007, as there was no instrument in the research literature which assessed cross cultural competency in child protection context. The key findings of this research is published in Children Australia, 32:4, 2007. This presentation will discuss the qualitative findings from Cross Cultural Child Protection Survey (2007).
Examining Caseworkers perceptions of Cultural Sensitive Practices when working with CALD families The Qualitative section explored child protection caseworkers’ perceptions of ‘cultural sensitive’ practice what it means to be ‘culturally competent’ when working with CALD families. Participants were asked specifically: What factors they believed contribute to culturally INSENSITIVE practices in child protection work? This question utilized McPhatter’s ‘Enlightened Consciousness’ stage whereby the aim of this question was to explore the caseworkers self awareness, their concept of what contributed to cultural insensitive practice and what could or would they change in their practice when working with CALD families.
Participants A non random purposive sample of (n=66) of child protection caseworkers and team leaders were chosen to pilot the CCCPS. The sample comprised of (54) women and (12) men. The age of respondents ranged between 21 to 49 years with mean of 29 years. All participants held qualifications in social work or human services. There were (11) respondents who could speak a second language and identified from CALD background. Ten (10) Child Safety Service Centers were selected from across South East Queensland, predominantly based in urban and socially disadvantaged outer fringe suburbs of the Brisbane Metropolitan Area.
Data Analysis An inductive thematic analysis was performed on the qualitative responses. This process involved transcribing all (66) responses into data set and conducting content analysis of identifying, organizing the recurring themes from the data. A narrative of the major themes was developed however this presentation will focus on the qualitative responses on the development of ‘Cultural Sensitive Practice’ when working with Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) families.
Cultural Sensitive Practice as identified by Child Protection caseworkers demonstrating: An understanding of effective cross cultural communication; It is imperative that the caseworker; “Consider cultural family structures and child rearing norms in making and writing up the assessment; using relevant CALD agency to monitor child's protection; consult CALD agency (usually informally)” (participant 35, Anglo-Australian, 180 months experience) “Attempt to respect the individuality of each family; make attempt to briefly investigate normative cultural issues and expectations; attempt to discuss cultural customs and issues with family to gain better understanding”( participant 26, Anglo-Australian, 28 months experience) in demonstrating cultural sensitive casework.
Communication and Engagement skills Some respondents provided practical examples of their engagement with CALD families. “Through discussion with family ask if they require cultural support, source support through their own community if necessary, link with liaison officers and cultural support in other governments departments and interpreter services if required, In placements maintain cultural links important to family (e.g. Samoan Church)” (participant 19, Anglo-Australian, 24 months experience). “Ask child and family how they feel their cultural identity can be maintained and ask others who belong to the community on how to best meet cultural needs” (participant 18, Anglo-Australian, 14 months experience)
Issues of ‘One Size Fits all’ approach In Australia there are specific policies on migrant and refugees communities to acculturate and assimilate within the dominant Australian culture, this further compounds the caseworkers ability and understanding of cross cultural issues impacting on certain CALD communities; “Child Safety Officer lack of knowledge and understanding about culture or when families don't identify themselves as culturally linked and this belief that everyone should "assimilate" in Australian society” (participant 20, Anglo-Australian, 11 months experience). ["one size fits all" approach- each case needs to be considered on own merit and attention needs to be paid to individual, need to consider rights of child to be safe from harm can clash with cultural beliefs (e.g. smacking)] (participant 16, Anglo-Australian, 120 months experience).
Referral for appropriate support services Caseworkers identified that referrals to CALD specific services and engagement with these services would allow them to gain a better understanding of the cultural norms, customs and guidance on how best to engage with CALD families; “During family meeting plan for links to culture, engage agencies or individuals to enable this; seek families’ guidance on appropriate cultures” (participant 16, Anglo-Australian, 120 months experience), However the caseworker may not have the ability to make referral if there was a lack of CALD specific services; “Lack of structured formal agencies for certain cultures like Samoan, African” (participant 48, Anglo-Australian, 8 months experience).
Placing the child with Kin or extended family network “Try to place child with family member and community group; engage with community elders to Family Group Meeting's and ensures regular family contact” (participant 2, Anglo-Australian, 17 months experience); However the kinship placement option was not always available, as there were a limited number of foster carers from CALD background; “There are issues when placing children with foster carer, especially with children from diverse ethnic backgrounds. For example there are few foster carers of Samoan ethnicity available for placements” (participant 62, Anglo-Australian, 46 months experience).
Cultural Sensitive Practice - Summary Caseworkers highlighted the need for workers to engage, be respectful and build responsive relationships when working with CALD families. These cross-cultural skills included: • engaging with the family, • use of interpreter, • ascertaining cultural supports, • linking with liaison officers and • sourcing appropriate support from other government departments, as being effective when working with CALD families and kinship placements
Organisational Barriers to Cultural Sensitive Practice • Caseworkers identified a lack of training, resources, support services and policy guidelines when working with CALD families “Child Safety Officer who lacks knowledge and experience of cultural issues maybe insensitive to cultural issues, training in this area is necessary” (participant 18, Anglo-Australian, 14 months experience). “No education; education focuses more on Indigenous people rather than other cultures” (participant 15, Anglo-Australian, 24 months experience).
Organisational Barriers to Cultural Sensitive Practice Caseworkers identified a lack of resources, support services and policy guidelines when working with CALD families “Lack of available resources and service agencies and training information courses about specific communities in Child Safety Service Centre area” (participant 7, Anglo-Australian, 30 months experience) and “Lack of resources and appropriate specific cultural knowledge and training” (Participant 14, Anglo Australian, 34 months experience). “Lack of clear definitions in the legislation and policy manual on cultures, other than Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander considerations”,(participant 19, Anglo Australian, 24 months experience).
Organisational Barriers to Cultural Sensitive Practice High case loads and lack of time, Lack of knowledge ,as contributing factors towards their inability to work in a cultural sensitive approach with CALD families. “High Caseload and through put requirements limit the potential time to plan and implement culturally appropriate assessments” (participant 25, Anglo-Australian, 12 months experience) “Lack of time to gain better understanding of different cultures and make appropriate decisions” (participant 32, Anglo-Australian, 12 months experience). “Lack of cultural awareness, understanding, lack of using interpreters and not offering culturally appropriate follow-up services” (participant 7, Anglo-Australian, 30 months experience).
Issues of Ethnocentric Bias and Ignorance “Department exists from western value base this impacts on cultural identity and value, when values between the "western standard" do not marry with family from CALD background, this impacts on actions of Child Safety Officer, as it places work immediately in conflict” (participant 25, Anglo-Australian, 12months experience). “Lack of understanding of other cultural beliefs and working impact on child rearing; Child Safety Officer not having an understanding and belief that all parents should meet the same goals, delivering the same parenting practices as their own contribute to culturally insensitive practice as children maybe removed based on the Child Safety Officer’s own belief system and value base” (participant 17, Anglo-Australian, 51 months experience).
Experiences of Bi-Cultural Workers in Child Protection There were 11 participants that could speak a second language from n=66 total, CALD/NESB n= 4, European= 5, Other n= 2 Does the Department of Child Safety respect the cultural diversity of its staff? Yes = 10, Don’t Know= 1 Completed CSO Training Yes =5 No=6 How well prepared were you by your formal training for cross cultural child protection issues? Very =1, Quite =4, A little = 4, Not at all =2
Experiences of Bi-Cultural Workers What factors do you believe contribute to culturally INSENSITIVE practice in child protection work? “Do not respect diversity; do not understand the family's dynamic, values, beliefs; do not build responsive relationships, honest, open communication with clients” (participant 64, Asian/Vietnamese, 18 months experience); “Stereotypes of what different races do to raise their children” (participant 61, Asian, 11 months experience) “Limited resources by the service providers- support services, carers, and lack of appropriate service providers, specifically certain dialect groups of CALD clients (African, Asian)” (participant 57, Asian, 18 months experience),
Experiences of Bi-Cultural Workers Emphasized the importance and recognition of cultural identity, cultural values, language and religion, when working with CALD communities, “As a Child Safety Officer, I think children and their families can suffer if their culture, languages are ignored or marginalized. So when working with people from other cultures, I make sure I understand the families beliefs & customs, take responsibility for respecting diversity in practice, building responsive relationships with families, building relationships with cultural services in area” (participant 64, Asian/Vietnamese, 18 months experience); “As often as I am aware of their cultural, religious needs especially if family identifies specific needs” (participant 61, Indian, 24 months experience).
Future Research The main findings of research study is published in the December Issue of Children Australia, 32:4 (2007) The second paper is currently under review: Developing ‘Cultural Sensitive’ practice when working with CALD communities – An Australian exploratory study . The author is part time PhD candidate with University of Queensland. The PhD will explore: How do adolescents from CALD backgrounds understand, experience and perceive their ‘Cultural Identity’ whilst being in out-of-home care?
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