Home Visitation Programs with Ethnic Minority Families: Cultural Issues in Parent Consultation

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Numerous social and psychological interventions have been developed since the 1960s that use home visitation as one component of a treatment program for disadvantaged or at-risk populations (Klass, 1996; Olds & IKorfmacher, 1997; Powell, 1993; Roberts, Akers, & Behl, 1996). In recent years, mental health professionals increasingly have been called upon to provide a variety of intervention and consultation services that involve some form of parent training or home visiting (Aaronson, 1989; Miranda, :1993). Although the majority of programs that use home visiting focus on early intervention and the promotion of the physical and psychological development of infants or young children, school-based programs also have begun to use home visits as a method of consulting with parents of elementary-school-age children with behavior problems who might not otherwise seek out mental health services (Cave11 & Hughes, 1997; Edens, in press; Evans, Okifuji, Engler, Bromley, & Tishelman, 1993). Despite the fact that a significant proportion of home visitation programs Ihave been developed to provide prevention and early intervention services to low-income, minority families (Roberts & Wasik, 1990), the influence of cultural factors often has been given scant attention in the development of these programs, the services they provide, the method of service delivery, and the training of professional and paraprofessional staff members (Halpern, 1993). This is particularly unfortunate given that research has generally demonstrated poorer treatment outcomes for economically disadvantaged and minority families receiving mental health services (Boyd- Franklin, 1989; Brooks-Gunn, Gross, & Kraemer, 1992; Kazdin & Mazurick, 1994; S. P. Sue, Fujino, Hu, & Takeuchi, 1991; for an exception to this general finding, however, see Myers, Alvy, Arrington, & Richardson, 1992). The purpose of this discussion is to examine the potential impact of cultural issues on the selection of program goals and methods of intervention for home visitation programs and to review recommendations that have been suggested for training culturally competent staff to work with ethnic minority families.

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Journal of Educational and Psychological Consultation, v. 8, issue 4, p. 373-383