New Jersey Lawmakers Need To Address Cultural Competency in Health Care, Other Areas, Opinion Piece Says
"The Latino Leadership Alliance of New Jersey calls on Gov. Jon Corzine (D) and the state government to follow through on their commitment to provide culturally competent services to all citizens," Lazaro Cardenas, deputy director of the Monmouth County chapter of the alliance, writes in an Asbury Park Press opinion piece. The state Legislature in 2008 included a provision in the state budget that requires several agencies, including the Department of Human Services and the Department of Children and Families to provide culturally competent services, according to Cardenas. "This was a sound first step. But we need to go further," he writes.
He suggests that the state devise clear criteria on culturally competent services. According to Cardenas, "It is not enough to have someone who speaks the language of those seeking services. Programs must be structured in a way that respects the culture of those they serve."
He writes, "A lack of cultural sensitivity and an inability to communicate results in failure for the individual and a squandering of government resources," adding, "Perhaps the best example of this is in the field of mental health services. There is no way to properly provide mental health services to someone in a language he or she does not understand or without an appreciation of cultural sensitivities."
Cardenas concludes, "Cultural competency is one of the keys to success in addressing those issues of public concern and it has the added benefit of making for sound, efficient and effective public policy" (Cardenas, Asbury Park Press, 2/8).