Cultural Competence

Create policies and procedures that are responsive to cultural differences and train personnel to be culturally competent.

"Cultures differ in their languages, values, codes of behavior, customs, beliefs, knowledge, symbols, myths and stories, and institutions. Without an understanding of these differences, drug court professionals may attach erroneous meanings to behaviors they do not understand. They may also fail to acknowledge the strengths inherent in a youth’s culture that might be used to facilitate progress in treatment. Professionals who are culturally competent value the broad spectrum of human behavior and understand how culturally determined beliefs can shape the way that reality is perceived. They are aware of their own culture and knowledgeable about the interaction between cultural and individual factors in the development of the youth they serve. As a consequence of these qualities, these professionals work with youth and their families in a way that is responsive to cultural issues." (Excerpt taken from the Juvenile Drug Courts: Strategies in Practice)

Resources & Tools


Use the In-Practice Tip Sheet on Cultural Competence to provide operational steps to implementing the 16 Strategies in Practice. The Cultural Competence Tip Sheet focuses on working with support staff to increase cultural awareness, with the first being not to make assumptions regarding race; and striving to be reflective of the population being served. For additional In-Practice Tip Sheets click on Practical Tips to Help Juvenile Drug Court Teams Implement the 16 Strategies in Practice. 

Connect With Kids and Parents of Different Cultures: How to develop positive relationships with today’s diverse families (By Linda Ross)

External Web Resources:

Center for Applied Linguistics

National Center for Cultural Competence (Georgetown University)

The Center for Organizational Cultural Competence


The Lens of Implicit Bias (by Shawn C. Marsh, Ph.D.)

Things to Consider

  • The juvenile drug treatment court team should understand that culture shapes how youth behave and respond to situations.
  • The JDTC team members should not make recommendations for interventions based solely on their own cultural and childhood/adolescent experiences.
  • The new JDTC team members and staff should have cultural awareness training specific to adolescents.
  • The JDTC should examine retention rates for youth from different cultures.