• This Bright SPOT is under review BY OUR COMMUNITY OF IMPACTED PARENTS and pending approval.

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What is the intervention?

Cultural Brokers, functioning as intermediary advocates linking affected individuals to the child welfare system, represents a promising approach to family engagement and permanency gaining momentum in California. This practice has been adopted successfully by Fresno County Department of Social Services, Sacramento County Department of Health and Human Services, San Joaquin County Human Services Agency and has been recognized by the California Evidenced-Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare and the National Child Welfare Resource for Organizational Improvement. Cultural Brokers have completed over 2,620 joint community response calls, 91% of which did not enter the child welfare system six months post response.

The Cultural Broker program is specifically designed to work collaboratively with families, social workers, the court, foster parents, and the community to decrease the disproportionate number of African American children in foster care. Cultural Broker advocates/liaisons receive extensive training from agencies about the different parts of the CPS system and the resources that are available to help families. The involvement of Cultural Brokers results in more engagement with families and less cultural misinterpretation. Additionally, some cultural brokers have extensive knowledge not only on culture, but also substance abuse, domestic violence, the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), and/or immigrant and refugee needs and programs. With enough community buy in, there are trustworthy advocates who make an ideal match for each impacted person.

Cultural Brokers Inc. is the nonprofit leading this charge and was developed in response to the 2003 Family to Family Initiative in Fresno County, where their Department of Social Services shared power with leaders in the community to tackle the issues facing African American families and their overrepresentation in the system.

What makes it a Bright Spot?

Impacted parents often find themselves navigating the murky waters of the child welfare system, which can be confusing and intimidating, and the goal of reunification often seems simply unobtainable. Cultural Brokers provides support to parents from individuals external to the system, some of whom may be lived experts, and helps form a productive and trustworthy connection. Once connected, outcomes indicate that parents gain a better understanding of the child welfare system, have increased knowledge, and are linked to community resources to strengthen their circle of support, reunify with their children. Long-term outcomes indicate that families supported by Cultural Brokers will not re-enter the child welfare system.

What steps can you take?

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