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Children's Medical Services - Special services for children with special needs
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Module 1: Lesson 3: Element 4

Element 4: Honor the Diversity of Families

This element recognizes that each family is unique. In a family-centered approach, families are valued for their unique qualities and differences. Providers are encouraged to creatively meet the needs of the child and family as they demonstrate sensitivity to the racial, ethnic, cultural, and socioeconomic diversity of the family. Accordingly, family members are not judged for their different parenting styles, nor are they expected to conform to an "ideal" approach to child rearing. Rather, providers strive to promote family independence. Consequently, the environment is appropriately adapted to secure the family's role in the decision-making process specifically addressing such considerations as language barriers, cultural values and beliefs, and economic constraints.

Practice Considerations

  • Learn about other cultures; ask questions.
  • Be aware of your own values and beliefs and how they help shape your actions and decisions.
  • Respect family values and beliefs, including interest in alternative remedies.
  • Be nonjudgmental.
  • Provide educational materials in multiple languages as needed, and offer translation and interpreter services.
  • Recognize what nonverbal behaviors are communicating to the family and vice versa.

The philosophical framework of family-centered care emphasizes the value of respecting diversity in families. The underlying assumption of service delivery should be that every family member is doing the best he or she can at that point in time. The provider has the challenge of assisting the family to meet the unique needs of the child. This challenge must be met with an emphasis on the strengths and resources within the family. Accordingly, great care must be taken to protect the dignity and cultural identity of the family. Providers must develop a keen sense of the cultural values and beliefs within the community if they are to adequately serve families within the framework of family-centered care.


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