Cultural Competency and Language Access

As Wisconsin's population becomes ever more diverse, health care providers serve increasing numbers of consumers/patients from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds. Culture and language play a crucial role in how effectively health services are delivered and received. Issues such as consumers' familiarity with, or trust in, Western medicine; spirituality and religious beliefs; health care literacy and English language proficiency are all factors that providers must consider in order to provide culturally competent care. When staff who administer services for state and federal programs understand, and respond with sensitivity to, the needs and preferences of culturally and linguistically diverse consumers, better care naturally follows.

According to the University of Wisconsin's Population Health Institute, Health of Wisconsin Report Card (2010), Wisconsin received a 'C-' for its overall health disparity grade. The Department's 2005 Minority Health Report documents the disproportionate burden of poor health that persists among racial and ethnic minority populations in this state. Providing culturally and linguistically appropriate services to health care consumers has the potential to improve access to care, quality of care, and, ultimately, health outcomes. Below, you will find links to various resources that address the issues of cultural competency and language access.

National CLAS Standards
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released the Enhanced National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services in Health and Health Care along with a downloadable blueprint to offer guidance and implementation strategies, A Blueprint for Advancing and Sustaining CLAS Policy and Practice (The Blueprint). Visit the Minority Health Program's CLAS page for resources and more.

Language Access Plan
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has published its 2013 Language Access Plan (HHS LAP) ensuring access to the Department's programs and activities to people with limited English proficiency (LEP).

Cultural Competency
DHS Resources
External Resources

Language Access
DHS Resources
External Resources

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Last Revised: February 25, 2016