The United States Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health defines culturally and linguistically competent services as those that are respectful of and responsive to the health beliefs, practices and needs of diverse patients. In Systems of Care cultural and linguistic competence is one of the core values: “Systems of Care are culturally and linguistically competent, with agencies, programs, and services that reflect the cultural, racial, ethnic, and linguistic differences of the populations they serve to facilitate access to and utilization of appropriate services and supports.” Culturally and linguistically competent systems aim to reduce health care disparities among different populations and achieve health equity for all individuals in that system regardless of culture, social status, or socially determined circumstances.

As a way to guide the practice of cultural and linguistically competent care, the Office of Minority Health developed the National CLAS (Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services) Standards in 2000.

The CLAS standards can be found on their website at this link: click here

More resources on cultural competence and health care equity can be found on these websites:

Think Cultural Health

Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services

Virginia Department of Health

The Virginia Office of Children’s Services administers the Children’s Services Act for At-Risk Youth and Families (CSA) and is the System of Care funding structure in Virginia. CSA provides services and funding to address the individual needs of emotionally and behaviorally disturbed youth through a collaborative effort of local government, private providers, and family members. Statistics from the office for fiscal year 2016 show that the youth served through CSA for that year were predominantly white (non-Hispanic) with the largest minority being African American. The second largest minority was Hispanic or Latino youth.

Demographic Description % of Total Population CSA Children Served: By
African American 31.5%
American Indian/Alaska Native 0.1%
Asian 1.1%
White (non-Hispanic) 55.4%
Hispanic or Latino 6.1%
Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander 0.1%
Unable to determine 5.6%
By Gender
Female 39.4%
Male 60.6%

National data shows the prevalence of unmet mental health needs in both African American and Hispanic youth is higher than that for white youth. For more information on prevalence and treatment of mental health disorders in youth go to this webpage: click here

System of Care Grant sites in Virginia developed disparity impact statements addressing how they plan to serve and support minority and underserved populations in their regions. For more on how to create a disparity impact statement go to this webpage: click here