Cultural and Linguistic Competence (CLC)

Additional Information

The marked health disparities that persist in children and adolescents of color, which constitutes the most rapidly growing segment of the youth population in the US, is striking. Visit the CLC Library for resources on specific populations, including:

  • African American
  • Alaskan Native/American Indian
  • Appalachian
  • Asian/Pacific Islander
  • Caribbean Islander
  • Immigrant and Refugee
  • Hispanic/Latino
  • Muslim/Islamic


Youth who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer questioning, intersex and two-spirit (LGBTQI2-S) are part of a distinct cultural group and may face many levels of rejection, harassment and bullying that can lead to overwhelming stress and isolation. These individuals are at higher risk for depression, substance use, dropping out of school, homelessness and suicide. There may be reluctance — stemmed by fear of rejection — to disclose their identity, which can prevent access to necessary and appropriate services. Only limited customized services are available for these individuals, and organizations may have stereotypes or inadequate knowledge about their specific needs and preferences. A primary value of systems of care (SOC) is creating culturally responsive services, supports and policies, which includes demonstrating behaviors, attitudes, policies and structures at all levels, to effectively engage and work with these young people.

National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) in Health and Health Care

Many communities have found it helpful to structure CLC strategic planning by focusing on the National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) in Health and Health Care, from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health.

CLC Organizational Assessment Tools

Conducting organizational assessments can help improve the quality of services and supports, and outcomes for children, youth, young adults and families by providing a vehicle for organizations to better understand the significant impact of cultural, social, economic and environmental factors, such as poverty, racism, immigration, discrimination, homophobia, geographic factors and family structure on access to behavioral healthcare and service delivery.

Behavioral Health Disparity Impact Statements (BHDIS)

The system-wide policy and requirement for Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) grantees to establish and develop BHDIS represents an important step in advancing the quality of behavioral health and supportive care. The primary purpose of the BHDIS is to assess and heighten the impact of policies, programs, processes and resource decisions to eliminate behavioral health disparities and disproportionalities.