• October 2009
  • Vol. 10, No. 8

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The Journey of Cultural Awareness

Cultural competence was the theme of one of last year's issues of FOCUS, the quarterly newsletter of the Foster Family-Based Treatment Association (FFTA). A dozen articles explored ways to build cultural competence, described in the lead article as a journey that requires a willingness to acknowledge what we don't know and a desire to widen the scope of our experiences. This article, by Lee Mun Wah, goes on to suggest ways for family members to become culturally aware with their foster child.

Other articles explore other facets of cultural competence:

  • "The Ethnic Identity of Foster Youth" explores the confusion many foster children feel in transracial placements. They struggle between wanting to belong to their foster family and wanting to maintain connections to their biological family.
  • In "Personal Perceptions and the Language of Diversity," the writer explores how making judgments from appearances hinders foster parents and child welfare personnel when engaging with families who have different cultural backgrounds. A description of a training in perception and awareness illustrates how judgment includes elements of prejudice and discriminatory thinking.
  • Foster youth have their own culture, much of which is based on the lack of having the privileges that come from growing up with family, as "The 'Culture' of Foster Youth" describes. It includes a checklist of some of those privileges: childhood toys, family traditions and routines, buying school clothes without waiting for a voucher, and a self-concept that is not based on a case history.

Other articles include "Working With Deaf Youth," "Understanding Traditions and Beliefs," "How 'Competent' Is Your Organization?" and a book review.

The full 18-page issue is available on the FFTA website:

www.ffta.org/publications/focus_archives/2008_summer.pdf (1,730 KB)

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