Culturally Responsive Health Practices
Parents bring a wealth of strengths that stem from their cultures—beliefs, values, and behaviors—which shape their way of life. Parents’ cultural practices influence how they take care of their children. Sometimes parents must adapt to different ways of doing things when it comes to their children’s health. To support families effectively, child care staff must recognize and appreciate families’ cultural practices.
Culturally Responsive Practices in Health: What Are They?
Culturally responsive practices incorporate the beliefs, values, and behaviors of families’ social and cultural backgrounds so health information is relevant to them. These practices strengthen relationships between child care staff and families.
Child care staff must recognize the similarities and differences between their own cultural beliefs and values about health and families’ cultural beliefs and values about health. Knowing the similarities and differences, staff are better able to understand how families oral health and how to engage with families in finding ways to improve health.
Tips for Culturally Responsive Practices in Health
- Recognize and celebrate cultural diversity. Families and communities have their own cultural practices and beliefs about children’s health, including oral health. To strengthen the program’s responsiveness, child care staff can invite diverse community members to serve on the program’s health services advisory committee or share information during staff in-service trainings.
- Create a welcoming environment. Fostering a culturally inclusive environment encourages parents to share information about their health. Engaging in positive interactions with parents can promote a feeling of being understood and valued. In addition, it may be helpful to recruit peer health promoters, bilingual/bicultural staff, or trained interpreters or translators to participate in meetings with parents. Child care staff can use resources such as the National Center for Cultural Competence’s A Guide to Choosing and Adapting Culturally and Linguistically Competent Health Promotion Materials to adapt health messages and materials for parents.
- Listen respectfully. Fully listening to parents is one of the most respectful things staff can do. Respectful listening techniques, such as motivational interviewing, can help staff understand families’ health needs.
- Involve parents and other family members. Parents and other family members, including extended family members, play an important role in influencing behaviors, which can affect a child’s health. Therefore, to promote a child’s health, it is important to include parents and other influential family members in discussions and in the decision-making process.