A child’s care and development should be the top concern of everyone involved in foster care. Foster parents may need to take unique steps to ensure the child's maximum well-being if the child’s cultural background is different from their own. This means a thorough respect and understanding of the child's religion, cultural values, customs, and beliefs. Cultural sensitivity can give the child a sense of permanency and belonging that will benefit them in emotional, mental,
and spiritual ways.
The Importance of Cultural Sensitively in Foster Care
It is important for other children in the home to become more culturally aware. The entire household needs to have a strong degree of cultural competency. This can help to prevent the bullying of a child of a different cultural background, or accidental insensitivity.
If this is not part of a state's foster care program, then the foster parents must provide this instruction, as children from different cultural backgrounds are likely to come in and out of their home. Foster parents have an enormous influence on how their foster children treat others.
When foster parents are culturally aware, they can teach and model this behavior to their children. This means teaching children about diversity, being open-minded and fair toward others, and respecting the rights and feelings of others. Children and parents in the foster care system should learn about the harm that can be done to others through stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination.
Most child care caseworkers are trained in cultural sensitivity, as it is an important part of the job. This training allows them to give each and every child the best possible treatment, and also gives them the ability to assist trans-racial adoptive families in integration. This training is equally important for foster parents, since they too work with children of all types of backgrounds every day.
Cultural Sensitivity Training
Cultural sensitivity training can provide foster parents with invaluable tool and techniques, ensuring a more seamless adjustment period for children. Cultural competency requires knowledge of a wide variety of cultural backgrounds, and a willingness to learn and accept differences.
This openness and respect for others can help children feel welcome and comfortable in the home of foster parents.
The training is comprised of formal classes conducted by child care caseworkers and/or administrators. They have already been through similar training themselves and use it every day in their work, which makes them the perfect teachers in this area.
Increasingly, cultural sensitivity training is becoming an integral part of the foster parent training programs in the states. Most states have some form of this training required for their foster parents.
Training programs involve test interactions between the would-be foster parents and people of different backgrounds. Instruction covers the best ways to promote healthy interactions based on cultural sensitivity. Role playing is often involved in the more in-depth portions of this training.
Newly certified foster parents come away from the training with new understanding they may have lacked in the past, an enhanced degree of sensitivity, and cultural awareness that will serve them well in their new roles.
The Master of Social Work degree program offered by Our Lady of the Lake University online prepares students to change the lives of children and future parents through an appreciation of cultural sensitivity – while progressing in their own rewarding careers.
To learn more about working with children, please download our free guide here.