Maternal and Child Health Training Program

H H S Department of Health and Human Services
Health Resources and Services Administration
  • YouTube
  • HRSA eNews

Goal 2: Workforce Diversity

Prepare and support a diverse MCH workforce that is culturally competent and family centered.


  • Recruit, train, and advance faculty from diverse backgrounds
  • Recruit, train, and retain a workforce that is more reflective of the diversity of the nation.
  • Design and implement educational programs to ensure that the MCH workforce is both culturally competent and family centered.
  • Engage families, youth, and communities in the development and ongoing implementation of training programs for the MCH workforce.


MCHB strives to develop an MCH workforce that is more reflective of the diversity of the nation. This strategy requires that we focus on increasing the diversity of MCH faculty and students. By addressing faculty and trainee diversity, and incorporating cultural competence and family centered care into training programs, the MCH Training Program aims to improve the quality of care for the MCH population. Over time, the Program must evaluate whether the emphases on diversity, cultural competence and family centered care might also help to reduce health disparities.

More on Rationale

The goals of the Health Resources and Services Administration are to focus on uninsured, underserved, and special needs populations by improving access to health care, improving health outcomes, improving the quality of healthcare, and eliminating health disparities.  The MCH Training program contributes to achieving these goals by funding universities to train an MCH workforce that is culturally competent and reflects an increasingly diverse U.S. population.  The MCH Training Program focuses on recruiting racially and ethnically diverse trainees and faculty because studies have documented that diverse providers are more likely to serve underserved populations, thus increasing the likelihood that health care disparities will be addressed.  According to the Institute of Medicine Report, Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care, “The healthcare workforce and its ability to deliver quality care for racial and ethnic minorities can be improved substantially by increasing the proportion of underrepresented U.S. racial and ethnic minorities among health professionals” (p. 2).   In their report In the Nation's Compelling Interest: Ensuring Diversity in the Health Care Workforce, the Institute of Medicine further determined, “Increasing racial and ethnic diversity among health professionals is important because evidence indicates that diversity is associated with improved access to care for racial and ethnic minority patients, greater patient choice and satisfaction, and better educational experiences for health professional students, among many other benefits (p. 1).


  • Diversity: One goal of the MCH Training Program is to increase the percent of trainees who are from underrepresented groups. “Underrepresented groups” refer to, but are not limited to, groups based on race, ethnicity, geographic location, gender, disability status, etc. who are underrepresented in a field of study.

  • Cultural Competence: “Culture” refers to language, thoughts, communications, actions, customs, beliefs, values and institutions of racial, ethnic, religious, social group or self-identified community. “Competence” implies having the capacity to function effectively as an individual and/or organization within the context of the cultural beliefs, behaviors, and needs presented by consumers and their communities.  Cultural competence is the knowledge, interpersonal skills and behaviors that enable a system, organization, program, or individual to work effectively cross culturally by understanding, appreciating, honoring, and respecting cultural differences and similarities within and between cultures.

    Cultural competence is a dynamic, ongoing, developmental process that requires a long-term commitment and is achieved over time.

    MCH training projects address issues of cultural competency by including cultural competence training in the curriculum, administrative procedures, faculty and staff development, and recruiting and retaining racially and ethnically diverse faculty and students.

    More on Cultural Competence

    Cultural competence requires that systems, organizations, programs and individuals must have the ability to:

    • Appreciate diversity and similarities in customs, values, beliefs and communication patterns among all peoples
    • Understand and effectively respond to cultural differences
    • Engage in cultural self-assessment at the individual and organizational levels
    • Make adaptations to the delivery of services and enabling supports through policy making, infrastructure building, program administration, and evaluation
    • Institutionalize cultural knowledge and practices
    • Communicate effectively with persons of limited English proficiency, reading and comprehension skills.
  • Engaging Families, Youth and Communities: Family-centered care assures the health and well-being of children and their families though a respectful family-professional partnership. It honors the strengths, cultures, traditions, and expertise that everyone brings to this relationship. Family centered care is the standard of practice that results in high quality services.

    MCH Training Programs have expanded this definition to include family members, youth and community members as critical partners.  Within MCH Training Programs, family, youth and community members are faculty members, advisors, and students.  Within the LEND training programs, families are required to be faculty members and/or consultants to all programs.

Related Links and Resources

Diverse Workforce

Back To Top

Cultural and Linguistic Competence

  • Think Cultural Health—In order to equip providers with the cultural and linguistic competence to provide appropriate care to minority communities, HHS Office of Minority Health has developed a portfolio of cultural competency training programs tailored for physicians and nurses. These are Web-based training courses offered for free to providers and accredited for continuing education credits. OMH also has initiated the development of a cultural competency training program for first responders and disaster response/relief personnel to help address the challenges of disparities in the context of emergencies and disasters. This training program will help first responders develop knowledge and skills related to cultural competency education and help reduce racial and ethnic disparities in emergency and disaster response and outcomes. To learn more about these training programs, please click here.
  • The Cultural Competence and Linguistic Competence Policy Assessment (CLCPA) was developed by the National Center for Cultural Competence (NCCC) at the request of the Bureau of Primary Health Care (BPHC), Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Service (DHHS) to assist community health centers to advance and sustain cultural and linguistic competence.

    The CLCPA is intended to support health care organizations to:

    • improve health care access and utilization
    • enhance the quality of services within culturally diverse and underserved communities
    • promote cultural and linguistic competence as essential approaches in the elimination of health disparities.

    The NCCC has also developed a companion Guide for Using the Cultural and Linguistic Competence Policy Assessment Instrument that provides step-by-step instructions on how to conduct an organizational self-assessment process.

  • National Center for Cultural Competence—This site includes Definitions, Policy Briefs and Curriculum Enhancement Modules,  (not a government web site)
  • HRSA's Cultural Competence Web Page
    This site highlights approximately 40 HRSA-supported projects on the critical subject of cross-cultural health care.
  • National Standards on Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS),
  • Cross Cultural Health Care Studies—This interactive self-study program consists of a series of six tutorials in cultural competence, aimed at familiarizing health care providers with common issues that arise while working with people of diverse cultures. The case studies were developed collaboratively by the seven Pediatric Pulmonary Centers.
  • Organizational CC Assessment Tool—This organizational self assessment tool was developed by the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) programs.
  • National Standards of Practice for Interpreters in Health Care (PDF)
  • Culture-Language Links (WORD)

Back To Top

Engaging Families, Youth and Communities

Back To Top ↑