When we began that discussion some ten years ago, we focused on the health care context. Indeed, if health care services are not culturally competent and sensitive to the vast diversity of cultures in Jerusalem and throughout Israel, it really can be a life or death situation.
But Cultural Competency is so much more than that. In those past ten years, we’ve developed and refined our definition of Cultural Competency to encompass much of our entire approach to community work: All residents have the right to receive basic services (health, education, welfare) that are culturally adapted to best suit their needs. Cultural Competent services enable professionals to provide those services most effectively, and culturally competent residents are empowered to most effectively access these rights and services. You can read about the most recent work we’ve done to advance cultural competency in a number of fields – in health, the police, the workplace, academia. Now, we’re proud to be officially providing widespread training in the Jerusalem Municipality.
We’ve been working with the municipal welfare department for several years, facilitating workshops for them here and there, providing critical assistance in emergency situations (like the Haredi mother who was accused of starving her child). All the while, we were looking for ways to introduce cultural competency in a systemic way.
A few weeks ago it began. Not only the welfare department, with which we’d been working before, but the entire Social Services Department, which includes the Welfare Department, the Employment Authority, the Absorption Authority and the Public Health. About 80 senior officials from all the different Departments are participating in the first five workshops, which we are now taking place. The workshops introduce principles of the tools and insights of cultural competency. But this is only the beginning. In the future we expect to hold workshops adapted to the different areas – veterinary services, well-baby clinics, absorption authority, daycare frameworks, welfare workers and social workers, and more. All will undergo workshops led by those trained to lead cultural competency workshops.
Many thanks to the Jerusalem Foundation for its continued support of the Cultural Competency program throughout the years.