Every year, CALICO’s statewide program, Children’s Advocacy Centers of California (CACC), hosts a state summit for child advocacy centers and their partners. These partners include professionals from law enforcement agencies, CPS, DA's offices, hospitals, victim assistance, and other groups that work with children who have been abused. This year, CACC’s Annual Summit focused on enhancing cultural competency within both within centers like CALICO and beyond. California is a dynamic state filled with multicultural communities. Diversity influences nearly every aspect of the work children’s advocacy centers do. In order to effectively meet the needs of children and families, centers must be willing and able to understand the clients’ worldviews and adapt practices as necessary.
This year, CACC invited two speakers to present about cultural competency. In the morning, Robert S. Wright, MSW, RSW, presented on “Cultural Competency in Our Field: the Why, the What, the How,” focusing on how important it is to be educated on cultural competency and “what lens we are look through” when working within diverse communities. Mr. Wright is a Social Worker and Sociologist from Nova Scotia. His 28 year career has spanned the field of education, child welfare, forensic mental health, trauma, sexual violence and cultural competence. His pioneering work with colleagues in cultural competence and conducting cultural assessments has received national attention.
During the seconded half of the day, Al Killen-Harvey, LCSW, presented “Current Perspective on Sexual Orientation/Gender Identity and Trauma,” focusing on understanding the unique risks, challenges, strengths, and culture of LGBTQ youth. Mr. Killen-Harvey is the co-founder of The Harvey Institute, a training and consultation company whose mission is improving health care outcomes through integrating sexual health, and is also the lead trainer at The Chadwick Center for Children and Families focusing on improving Trauma Informed Care in Child Welfare and Mental Health systems across the United States.
Those who attended learned a lot and were so appreciative of the information provided by the speakers. One participant wrote:
What was useful to me was learning how to better approach people from different cultures, and to think more about how culture influences people’s behaviors and beliefs. Also, how our organizations can be allies to the people we serve, and how to better understand and address parents concerns about their children’s sexuality and/or gender expression.
Another participant wrote:
What was useful information that I will bring back to my MDT, was cultural awareness and some steps we are going to take to be more active in the community of the cultures we serve. Also I am already changing our intake forms to include gender expression and have shared the power point and resources from the training on sexual orientation gender expression. This part of the training was exceptional!
CACC looks forward to bringing more innovative trainings to California.