Factors impacting perceptions of organizational cultural competence in voluntary child welfare

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Introduction: While cultural competence is important for all clients, it is particularly relevant in child welfare as disproportionality and disparities have been a long-standing problem (Barrett & George, 2005; Wulczyn, Fenner, Mattingly, & Snowden, 2012). Efforts to remediate these have been addressed from the standpoint of both policy and practice; however, the problem persists (Davidson, 2008; Drake et al., 2011; Garland, Landsverk, & Lau, 2003; Wulczyn et al., 2012). The current study was organized around the following research question: What individual and agency-specific factors impact child welfare workers' perceptions of organizational cultural competence? Materials and methods: This cross-sectional quantitative study sampled 478 child welfare workers employed in eight voluntary agencies in a large northeastern state. Participants included those working in preventive services as well as in other capacities. The survey instrument was a written packet asking participants demographic questions along with questions about various aspects of job satisfaction, the psychological climate within their agency, and about the organizational cultural competence of the agency. Bivariate analysis was done to identify significant relationships between various factors and the outcome variable, organizational cultural competence. Then, structural equation modeling (SEM) was used to identify the best-fitting model for factors impacting workers' perceptions of organizational cultural competence based upon Diffusion of Innovation Theory. Results: Four models were ultimately developed based upon the theoretical framework. The best fitting model indicated that being white or Caribbean, workers' perceptions of respect in the workplace, readiness for change, and innovativeness within the agency were predictive of workers' perceptions of organizational cultural competence (X2=45.75, p=0.09). Other goodness-of-fit statistics indicated that the final model was a strong one (RMSEA=0.03; 90% CI for RMSEA=0.00-0.05; CFI=0.99; TLI=0.99). Discussion: The current research indicates that agency environment is directly related to workers' perceptions of organizational cultural competence. This finding enables those evaluating services another avenue for assessing cultural competence. Since study results indicated factor loadings that were highest for perceptions of readiness for change (0.27) and respect (0.23), it would be advisable for agency administrators seeking to improve the cultural competence of their agencies to consider giving priority to addressing these areas. Additionally, creating a flexible work environment that encourages workers to be innovative could also bolster feelings of cultural competence. Finally, the current research also supports the need to develop a qualified minority workforce whose skills and abilities would be suitable for building social work leadership in the long-term.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
StatePublished - Sep 2014


  • Child welfare
  • Innovation
  • Organizational cultural competence
  • Readiness for change
  • Respect
  • SEM


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