Theory and Practice in Culturally Competent Programming: Lessons From SafeFutures Prevention and Intervention Activities for High-Risk Youth

Shelli Balter Rossman, The Urban Institute

SafeFuures was a five-year initiative, supported by the Office of Juvenile Justice and delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), to further the existing efforts of selected communities in reducing delinquency and youth violence, using a continuum of care that includes prevention, intervention, treatment, and sanctioning programs or services. Six communities -- Boston, MA; Contra Costa County, CA; Fort Belknap, MO; Imperial County, CA; Seattle, WA; and St. Louis, MO -- not only targeted better outcomes for individual youth and families, but also focused on relevant systems reforms. Community-based partners were encouraged to tailor program strategies to address local needs of high-risk populations, including immigrant and ethnically diverse populations. Hence, both prevention and intervention activities needed to be responsive to differencxes in value systems, customs, language, and religion across the various community subcultures that included African American, Asian Pacific Islander, Hispanic, and Native American youth. This paper presents a conceptual framework for examining culturally competent programming. In addition, SafeFutures programs that deliberately espoused culturally relevant approaches are described, as are barriers to implementing culturally responsive programming and recommendations for strengthening future efforts of this nature.

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Updated 05/20/2006