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Updated to reflect latest discussions on cultural competency including criticisms, challenges,and alternative perspectives. The bibliography has been expanded and updated.

Updated on 3 September 2013. The previous version of this content can be found here.
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date: 16 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Cultural competence emerged as a concept in the 1980s, took form as a set of organizational, educational, advocacy, policy, and practice constructs in the 1990s, and has since matured into a broad rubric that addresses social justice and service delivery quality, equity, access, and efficacy for people and groups of diverse backgrounds. Cultural competence has become an essential element of social work at every level of the field, from direct practice to social policy. The evolution of cultural competence and its role in social work is examined and summarized in this entry.

Keywords: cultural competence, cultural competency, ethno-cultural competence, social justice, cultural relevance, cultural awareness, diversity

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