Child and Family Studies Research Programs

CFSRP is a part of the Occupational Therapy Department, School of Health Professions, at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia.

130 South 9th Street, Suite 600
Philadelphia, PA 19107
TLC Hotline: 215-503-4019
Fax: 215-503-1640

Improving the quality of services for families and their children with special needs in the communities in which they live.
Philadelphia County Infant/Toddler Early Intervention Policies and Procedures

Cultural Competency in Early Intervention

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's early intervention regulations defines culturally competent service delivery as follows:
“Conducted or provided in a manner that shows awareness of and is responsive to the beliefs, interpersonal styles, attitudes language and behavior of children and families who are referred for receiving services.” (PL 14-452, Title 55, section 4226.5
It is the goal of Philadelphia County that everyone providing services in birth to three early intervention is 'culturally sensitive'. Philadelphia County's perspective on culturally sensitive service delivery encompasses the above definition contained in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's early intervention regulations and also maintains that:
  1. There are many cultures, races, nationalities and religions represented among the population we serve that we value equally
  2. The nature of early intervention being delivered in a family's home and community places the service provider face-to-face with the intimacies of a family's culture, practices, attitudes, interpersonal styles and belief systems.
  3. Regardless of the orientation of the service provider, or the level of their education or training, no individual can truly be competent in another person's culture but all individuals can work toward developing an appreciation and understanding of another person's culture
  4. It is every service provider's responsibility to become sensitive to the fact that their presence in a person's home and community will impact the family and has the potential to breech certain beliefs and practices; and it is their responsibility to determine what the impact will be and to eliminate or alleviate it.
  5. We take a family centered approach to cultural competence. Therefore, in every situation the family is the expert and should be 'asked' if they are comfortable with what we are doing/using/etc and if we have permission to proceed.
  6. When family centered practices are being used, the service provider lessens the chances of offending a family or overstepping their cultural boundaries. Our focus on family centered practices in early intervention goes hand-in hand with cultural competence because it takes into account the family's interpersonal styles, centers around using the things in the family home, joining in on the family's already established routines and activities and has the family implementing the interventions that the service providers have demonstrated for them.
  7. Culturally sensitive service provision will be determined by the context in which the evaluations, assessments and interventions are framed as noted in the MDE, IFSP, contact notes, correspondence, service support plan.
  8. We will meet the Commonwealth's regulation that each b-3 service provider receive annual “training related to cultural competence” by assuring that in every topical training opportunity offered (or approved) by Philadelphia County there will be a discussion that considers what the impact of that subject/practice area might be relative to a family's practices, interpersonal styles, race, beliefs, attitudes, language nationality and/or ethnic group.

Developing Cultural *Sensitivity

  • Acknowledge differences
  • Increase your level of respect for others' values, views, characteristics that may differ from your own
  • Build upon the capacities of others

And Enhancing Cultural *Sensitivity

  • Use self-examination to value who you are & where you come from
  • Ask for and use information from others as to how they want to be treated
  • Accept discomfort with differences and work toward appreciating differences

How is diversity expressed?

  • Culture
  • Ethnicity
  • Race
  • Socioeconomic status
  • Gender
  • Sexual orientation
  • Religion
  • Education
  • Political affiliation
  • Language
  • Personal characteristics
Handout developed by PaTTAN for service coordinator 101 training (*the word competence is used in the original handouts)

I want to know more about...