Providing Culturally Congruent Care
Meeting Diverse Needs
Meeting victims' needs is far more difficult if their rights and access to services are complicated by geographic isolation, language barriers, cultural intolerance, disability, and/or lack of social support. Culturally sensitive SART responses should include a heightened awareness of how victims' environments shape their healing.
Serving diverse populations within a SART jurisdiction could include meeting specific needs for low-income families, older adults, individuals attending institutions of higher education, persons living on tribal land, individuals living in rural or multijurisdictional regions, immigrants, individuals with cognitive or physical disabilities, individuals living within military installations, national or international tourists, and gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender individuals.
The National Needs Assessment of Sexual Assault Response Teams surveyed communities about resources that teams require to effectively meet the needs of underserved and unserved communities. Responses included the need for additional staffing, training, and a broad range of multilingual and multicultural tools.
For example, teams serving American Indian victims needed more tribal advocates. Other teams mentioned a need for tools to help them serve nontraditional students on campus and develop strategies for reaching off-campus students. SARTs in rural areas expressed a need to reach victims in remote areas and establish protocols that match existing resources. Responders also indicated that they lack the funding they need to meet victims' basic needs (e.g., food, housing) and to increase accessibility for individuals with disabilities.
Collaborate With Others
As the diversity of our Nation grows, so do the needs of its sexual assault survivors. This presents complex challenges for SARTs, especially when needs exceed available resources.4 However, you can take cost-effective steps to meet the diverse needs of your community. For example, you might seek seed funding for a specific outreach project, expand partnerships with culturally specific organizations, or expand alliances with corporate partners. Examples of agencies you can collaborate with include5
- Urban leagues.
- Councils on aging.
- AIDS task forces.
- Hispanic/Latino service groups.
- Intellectual and developmental disabilities service providers.
- Organizations that specifically serve gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals.
- Community action agencies.
- Faith-based organizations.
- Vocational rehabilitation centers.
- Community centers for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
- Speech and hearing centers.
- Student or health services at colleges or universities.
- Centers for independent living.
- Mutual assistance programs (for refugees).
- Domestic violence shelters.
- American Indian centers.
- Farm workers organizations for migrant workers.
- Mental health centers.
- Family planning clinics.
Linking victims with organizations they can trust and with whom they can easily communicate can facilitate their recovery and participation in the criminal justice process.
Bolster Your Efforts
You can bolster your efforts to meet diverse needs by6
- Allocating fiscal resources to sufficiently meet the unique needs and preferences of culturally and linguistically diverse populations.
- Having clearly written, consistently implemented and effective policies that address multicultural populations.
- Collecting and analyzing data that reflect the diversity in the service area.
- Periodically reviewing the demographic makeup of the jurisdiction.
- Collaborating with and engaging formal and informal support networks within diverse communities.
- Monitoring programs, reviewing them for quality assurance, and evaluating the services they offer for culturally and linguistically diverse populations.