Cultural Broker Program

The information in this program outline is provided by the program representative and edited by the CEBC staff. This program has been reviewed by the CEBC in the following Topic Areas:

About This Program

Target Population: Families with children ages 0-17 at risk of involvement or currently involved with the child welfare system including birth parents, foster parents, adoptive parents, guardians, and relatives

For children/adolescents ages: 0 – 17

For parents/caregivers of children ages: 0 – 17

Brief Description

The Cultural Broker Program is designed to raise and address concerns related to disproportionality and disparities that exist in the child welfare system, as well as concerns that involve issues of fairness and equity. Its mission is “Supporting the Power of Families to Strengthen Communities.” The core belief that drives the work is that every family regardless of race, ethnic background, or economic status will be empowered to develop their own strengths and capacities. The Cultural Broker Program provides brokering, advocacy, and support to families who are involved or who are at risk of involvement with the child welfare system. The Cultural Broker Program uses the model approach, Cultural Broker Paraprofessional; An Agency and Community Partnership©, with child welfare agencies to insure that their practice approaches with families from diverse populations are culturally congruent and specific to their unmet needs. Through partnerships the program has developed with the community and the child welfare agency, cultural interpretations are provided to decrease the likelihood of cultural misunderstandings.

Program Goals:

The goal of the Cultural Broker Program is:

  • Increase the overall well-being for at risk children and families by providing culturally sensitive services that will enable them to successfully navigate various government agencies and programs as part of their efforts to address their needs

Outcomes that the program hopes to achieve are:

  • Increase the prevalence of child welfare practice approaches and services provided to families that are culturally congruent and specific to the unmet needs of the families
  • Decrease the likelihood of cultural misunderstandings between families and child welfare social workers
  • Reduce the rates of disproportionality and disparity that exist in the child welfare system
  • Empower every family regardless of race, ethnic background, or economic status so that their own strengths and capacities are supported and developed
  • Increase children and family engagement and participation in child protection work and decision-making

Essential Components

The essential components of the Cultural Broker Program include:

  • Joint emergency response crisis and non-crisis service component:
    • The cultural broker accompanies the responding social worker on the initial response and assists with family engagement, assessment, development of a safety plan (if appropriate), and identification of absent parent, relatives, and other support systems. This approach enhances family engagement by providing support and advocacy to the family during the initial contact and serves as a cultural guide that decreases the likelihood of cultural misunderstandings between families and child welfare social workers.
    • The cultural broker completes an initial Family Development Matrix (FDM) as part of the family assessment to identify areas of strengths and concerns or needs. The information is entered in the FDM data base to track family progress and the effectiveness of service delivery.
    • The cultural broker assists with the development of a family empowerment plan to address the priority needs identified by the family.
    • The cultural broker coordinates with the child welfare social worker to link the family to identified resources and services.
    • The cultural broker participates in Team Decision Making meetings, Permanency Teaming Meetings, Case Staffings, Family Group Conferences, Family Mappings, and initial Juvenile Court Hearings in order to provide brokering, advocacy and support to families. This participation also insures culturally congruent service planning and delivery and identifies barriers to service delivery.
    • Sixty (60) days after the initial FDM assessment is completed the cultural broker provides follow up with the family to complete and update the FDM assessment. This process serves to assess family progress and utilization of resources.
  • On-going cultural broker service component (This can occur at any point in the child welfare service continuum and is particularly effective at key decision points.):
    • Family participates in an initial intake and triage meeting with the cultural broker team and child welfare services quality assurance liaison. This is followed by a subsequent planning meeting with the child welfare services worker.
    • The cultural broker completes an initial FDM as part of the family assessment to identify areas of strengths and concerns or needs. The information is entered in the FDM data base to track family progress and the effectiveness of service delivery.
    • Cultural brokers conduct:
      • On-going family assessments
      • Crisis intervention
      • Home visitations
      • Family observation reporting (court reports)
      • Information and referral
      • Limited transportation
      • Reporting and documentation
      • Brokering
      • Advocacy
      • Limited supervision of parent/child visitation
      • Court hearing attendance.
    • Brokering and advocacy with other systems such as mental health, education, and juvenile justice, as needed.
    • Cultural brokers promote family engagement and advocate to improve the quality of the relationship between the child welfare services social worker and the family. This serves to insure that practice approaches and services provided to the family are culturally congruent and specific to the needs of the family.
    • Cultural brokers provide monthly progress reports. FDM matrix assessments, empowerment plans and service agreements are updated at 60-day intervals.
    • Families complete satisfaction surveys after each service component and at regular intervals.

Child/Adolescent Services

Cultural Broker Program directly provides services to children/adolescents and addresses the following:

  • Victims of abuse and neglect or at risk of abuse or neglect.

Parent/Caregiver Services

Cultural Broker Program directly provides services to parents/caregivers and addresses the following:

  • Has abused or neglected a child or is at risk of abusing or neglecting a child.
Services Involve Family/Support Structures:

This program involves the family or other support systems in the individual's treatment: The Cultural Broker Program works closely with parents and child welfare services staff to identify absent parents, relatives, and other support systems so that they can be a participant in the safety network for the family.

Delivery Settings

This program is typically conducted in a(n):

  • Adoptive Home
  • Birth Family Home
  • Community Agency
  • Foster/Kinship Care
  • Hospital
  • Outpatient Clinic
  • Residential Care Facility
  • School


Cultural Broker Program includes a homework component:

Families increasingly, over time, are given assignments to guide, mentor, and support their ability to move from receiving advocacy and support services to developing personal skills that help them progress towards self-advocacy.


Cultural Broker Program has materials available in a language other than English:


For information on which materials are available in this language, please check on the program's website or contact the program representative (contact information is listed at the bottom of this page).

Resources Needed to Run Program

The typical resources for implementing the program are:

Trained Cultural Broker staff, office space, meeting space, computer and printer, transportation for meeting clients in their homes and in other community settings, emergency/concrete needs fund, and weekly supervision. Basic office supplies, phones, space for staff and private meetings with families.

Minimum Provider Qualifications

Cultural Broker Qualifications:

  • Experience serving as a community representative with child welfare
  • Bachelor’s level or Master's level worker preferred and or a paraprofessional with extensive community and child welfare related experience and completion of required training
  • History of experience with cultural groups who they serve to broker.
  • The trust and respect of the community.
  • Knowledge and understanding of the values, beliefs and practices of cultural groups within diverse communities.
  • Ability to question traditional ways of knowing and methods of practice to insure culturally informed assessments, services, programs, and policies are achieved.
  • Have successfully completed or have the ability to successfully complete the 42-hour cultural broker paraprofessional training and mentoring process.
  • Ability to serve as a catalyst for change by modeling and mentoring behavioral change, which can break down bias, prejudice and other institutional barriers that exist in child welfare settings.

Cultural Broker Supervisor Qualifications:

  • Minimum of a Master's of Social Work degree, being a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) is preferred.
  • Must have a minimum of 2 years of experience as a child welfare supervisor in a child welfare agency.
  • Must understand fully the role of a cultural broker and be able to differentiate the cultural broker role from that of a community representative.
  • Must be well-versed on best practices in child welfare and understand fully the issues that contribute to the disproportionality and disparities that exist in child welfare.
  • Must be able to support and prepare cultural broker staff with the tools and skills necessary to create trusting and meaningful partnerships with child welfare staff and other agencies within the community.
  • Must be able to brainstorm utilizing critical thinking and solve around specific ways to help cultural broker program staff to deal with struggles, barriers, and emerging issues that impact service delivery.
  • Must be able to recommend specific practice techniques to use when working with children, families, and agency staff to identify and address disparities and promote fairness and equity in the delivery of services.
  • Must be able to identify deeper issues and surrounding themes related to institutional racism and personal biases and have the ability to coach and support cultural broker staff in increasing their ability to engage in difficult conversations.
  • Must be able to take success from one case or situation, adapt, and share them to coach other agency and cultural broker program staff.
  • Must be able and willing to explore complicated team issues and themes surrounding organization change.

Education and Training Resources

There is not a manual that describes how to implement this program; but there is training available for this program.

Training Contact:
Training is obtained:

Training is obtained in ways that meet the goals and needs of each organization. Training is offered both onsite and offsite, as needed as well as through consultation.

Number of days/hours:

Dependent on agency’s goal/needs. A general overview of the model approach, Cultural Broker Paraprofessional an Agency Community Partnership© with child welfare agencies can be conducted in 3 days, however, implementation across an organizations whole child protection system is at least a 7-year process.

Relevant Published, Peer-Reviewed Research

This program has been reviewed and it was determined that this program lacks the type of published, peer-reviewed research that meets the CEBC criteria for a scientific rating of 1 – 5. Therefore, the program has been given the classification of "NR - Not able to be Rated." It was reviewed because it was identified by the topic expert as a program being used in the field, or it is being marketed and/or used in California with children receiving services from child welfare or related systems and their parents/caregivers. Some programs that are not rated may have published, peer-reviewed research that does not meet the above stated criteria or may have eligible studies that have not yet been published in the peer-reviewed literature. For more information on the "NR - Not able to be Rated" classification, please see the Scientific Rating Scale.

Currently, there are no published, peer-reviewed research studies for Cultural Broker Program.


Montana, S., Rondero Hernandez, V., Siegel, D., & Jackson, M. (2010). Cultural brokers research project: An approach to community engagement with African American families in child welfare. Report. California Social Work Education Center (CALSWEC). University of California, Berkeley

Siegel, D., Jackson, M., Montana S., & Rondero Hernandez, V. (2011). Use of cultural brokers as an approach to community engagement with African American families in child welfare: An empirically-based curriculum. California Social Work Education Center (CALSWEC). University of California, Berkeley. Available at

Contact Information

Margaret Jackson, MSW, LCSW
Title: Executive Director
Agency/Affiliation: Cultural Broker Family Advocate Program
Phone: (559) 486-1477 or (559) 824-4724
Fax: (559) 486-1466

Date Research Evidence Last Reviewed by CEBC: July 2014

Last CEBC Contact Date: March 2018

Date Program Content Last Reviewed by Program Staff: March 2018

Date Program Originally Loaded onto CEBC: December 2012