Engaging with culturally and racially diverse familiesedit
The engagement process in school-based mental health services is one of the first critical junctures for successful treatment of and intervention with at-risk children from culturally and racially diverse families. If professionals are unable to engage families initially in the process, children will not be served, and problems will continue to mount or multiply. Delays in treatment may result, leading children who may have benefited from preventive school-based services to later be funneled into more punitive and rigid systems, including child welfare, juvenile justice, and foster care systems. To better engage families, culturally competent school social workers must first be conscious of the needs of diverse families and the barriers to engagement in services. Once these needs and barriers are identified, school social workers should adopt philosophies of practice that reflect cultural democracy, collaboration, critical consciousness, and social advocacy and action. This chapter focuses on innovative and empirically based practices for engaging families of diverse backgrounds, with specific attention to immigrant and refugee families. The purpose of this chapter is twofold. First, it will provide an overview of the existing knowledge of best practices for engaging families, including addressing some of the reasons that services are underused. Second, it will provide specific recommendations and instructions for school based practitioners that are essential for engaging culturally and racially diverse families.