The NASW-Illinois Chapter Committee on Diversity and Cultural Competence (NASW-IL CDCC) is up and running after a transitional period in 2018. As part of the modernization efforts, the NASW-Illinois Chapter President has charged this committee as an advisory volunteer group for the period 2018 to 2020. The general purpose of the committee is to promote NASW’s programs and efforts that encourage awareness, respect, and appreciation of diversity in the social work profession and our society at large.
The 2018–2020 committee is chaired by Monica Guilhot-Chartrand. There are currently 9 members actively participating in the committee: Rosanelly Garcia, Brit Holmberg, Judy Orbach, Debbie Rafael, Lu Rocha, Grisel Rodriguez-Morales, Lisa Sink, Barbara Wahler, and Krista Woods. The focus of the committee is informed by cultural awareness and social diversity tenets in the NASW Code of Ethics as well as Standards and Indicators for Cultural Competence in Social Work Practice and the NASW Standards for Continuing Education and the Social Work Profession. Cultural competence is a standard for practice, and the committee’s responsibilities and functions shall demonstrate this commitment.
There are 10 standards and indicators for cultural competence in social work practice:
Standard 1 – Ethics and Values
Standard 2 – Self-Awareness
Standard 3 – Cross Cultural Knowledge
Standard 4 – Cross Cultural Skills
Standard 5 – Service Delivery
Standard 6 – Empowerment and Advocacy
Standard 7 – Diverse Workforce
Standard 8 – Professional Education
Standard 9 – Language and Communication
Standard 10 – Leadership to Advance cultural competence.
Also, in August 2017, the NASW Delegate Assembly approved a revision to the NASW Code of Ethics that has been the most significant since 1996. In terms of cultural awareness and social diversity, the code now states under 1.05 Cultural Awareness and Social Diversity:
Social Workers should understand culture and its function in human behavior and society, recognizing the strengths that exist in all cultures.
Social Workers should have a knowledge base of their clients’ cultures and be able to demonstrate competence in the provision of services that are sensitive to clients’ cultures and to differences among people and cultural groups.
Social Workers should obtain education about and seek to understand the nature of social diversity and oppression with respect to race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, marital status, political belief, religion, immigration status, and mental or physical ability.
Social workers who provide electronic social work services should be aware of cultural and socioeconomic differences among clients and how they may use electronic technology. Social workers should assess cultural, environmental, economic, mental or physical ability, linguistic, and other issues that may affect the delivery or use of these services.
Having all these in mind, the Committee on Diversity and Cultural Competence strives to serve the NASW-Illinois Chapter to bring forth the needs and gaps that might be identified in these areas. For instance, the committee has forwarded to the NASW-Illinois Chapter membership a survey on diversity needs in their practice and geographical area. The main needs indicated revolved around the following: provision of cultural competence CEUs by the NASW-Illinois Chapter, client access to culturally diverse services, and fostering diversity in the workplace. Action steps have been identified to address these issues. These responses will help guide the committee work in 2019.