New Tool Provides Guidance On Implementing Culturally Competent Early Childhood Practices

Jul 07, 2009

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) has created the Quality Benchmark for Cultural Competence tool for early childhood programs. The tool is the final product of NAEYC's Quality Benchmark for Cultural Competence Project (QBCCP), which was created to determine key elements of cultural competence for early childhood programs and ways to meaningfully integrate these concepts within quality rating and improvement systems (QRIS). CLASP is grateful to have been a collaborator on this important project. As the young child population continues to grow in diversity,  issues of cultural competence must be included in all early childhood policies, standards and practices, including those criteria that form QRIS.

The QBCCP identified seven concepts that define cultural competence for early childhood: 

  1. Acknowledge that children are nested in families and communities with unique strengths. Recognize and mitigate the tension between the early childhood profession's perceptions of the child as the center of the work versus the family as the center of the work.
  2. Build on and identify the strengths and shared goals between the profession and families and recognize commonalities in order to meet these goals.
  3. Understand and authentically incorporate the traditions and history of the program participants and their impacts on childrearing practices.
  4. Actively support each child's development within the family as complex and culturally-driven ongoing experiences.
  5. Recognize and demonstrate awareness that individuals' and institutions' practices are embedded in culture.
  6. Ensure that decisions and policies regarding all aspects of a program embrace and respect participants' language, values, attitudes, beliefs and approaches to learning. 
  7. Ensure that policies and practices build upon the home languages and dialects of the children, families and staff in programs and support the preservation of home languages. 

The tool includes criteria related to the above concepts, ideas for implementing culturally competent approaches in early childhood programs, and ideas for evaluating or measuring levels of cultural competence.

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