Inclusive Social Policy Development:
Ideas for practitioners
Summary Report from
Inclusive Social Policy Development: Building Diversity-affirming Communities
A seminar held February 13-15, 1997 Ottawa, Ontario
Canadian Council on Social Development
Carleton University School of Social Work
The Canadian Council on Social Development and Carleton University's School of Social Work are very grateful to Canadian Heritage for the financial support provided for this seminar.
Thanks also to the following organizations for providing useful advice and support in shaping this event:
- Canadian Ethnocultural Council
- Canadian Labour Congress
- National Organization of Immigrant and Visible Minority Women
- National Visible Minority Council on Labour Force Development
We would also like to express our appreciation to the volunteers who took notes throughout the seminar. This booklet is based on their notes.
And a very special thank you to Elizabeth Kwan, Consultant, for managing this project, including the organization of the seminar and the preparation of this booklet.
Using this booklet
This booklet summarizes some ideas and approaches discussed by participants and resource people at a seminar called Inclusive Social Policy Development: Building Diversity-affirming Communities, that was held in Ottawa from February 13 -15, 1997. The booklet is divided into four thematic sections. In each section you will find highlights from the discussions regarding the following:
- ways to help make organizations more inclusive of diversity considerations;
- considerations about inclusiveness for practitioners, administrators and researchers in the social policy field;
- examples of inclusive projects and activities; and
- tools for building diversity-affirming communities that were shared by participants at the seminar.
We hope the information in this booklet will both inspire and encourage more work in the practice of inclusive social policy development. For some readers, it will serve as an introduction to the overall concepts and approaches outlined here. For others, it will provide ideas for specific tools that they can use to make their work or organization more inclusive of Canada's cultural diversity. It was written for practitioners, administrators and researchers in the social policy field.
The Canadian Council on Social Development (CCSD), in partnership with the Carleton University School of Social Work, held a three-day professional development seminar called Inclusive Social Policy Development: Building Diversity-affirming Communities in Ottawa on February 13, 14 and 15, 1997. The rationale underlying the seminar was that integrating diversity considerations into social policy development is an essential component in the creation of communities that are truly inclusive. In such communiti es, cultural diversity is viewed as an asset which enriches every aspect of people's lives.
The purpose of the seminar was to promote excellence in social policy development through the meaningful inclusion of cultural and racial diversity considerations. For this seminar, social policy development was considered to be a dynamic continuum of wor k that encompassed:
- social service delivery and programming;
- community planning and advocacy activities; and
- research and policy development.
The seminar participants had the opportunity to:
- develop an understanding of diversity and its impact in both social and economic terms;
- exchange ideas on practical tools and effective approaches to social policy development and planning in a diverse society; and
- discuss effective responses to cultural and racial diversity.
There were three assumptions underlying this professional development seminar. The first assumption was that discrimination and racism are present and evident in the social policy field. The second assumption was that people define themselves by a variety of characteristics including their cultural background, gender, race, sexual orientation and socio-economic status. The last assumption was that current practices in the social policy field tend to segregate rather than integrate diversity considerations .
The challenge in social policy development is to approach and work with culturally diverse populations both as separate groups in the community, and as a dynamic part of the whole. To promote this perspective, consideration of culturally diverse concerns must be integrated into thinking about the whole community. For example, when considering the poverty suffered by particular ethnocultural communities, it should also be viewed within the context of the overall poverty experienced by the community.
The CCSD and the Carleton University School of Social Work brought together a culturally diverse group of 55 people to participate in the seminar, including social planning professionals, local and municipal government decision-makers, federal government representatives, social policy educators, and members of national organizations. Another 20 people were involved as staff and volunteers.
Over the three days, participants explored several social policy development areas in workshops and plenary sessions that were guided by resource people selected for their expertise in inclusive social policy development. They were:
- Adrienne Chan, consultant on diversity and institutional change, British Columbia;
- Nora Curry, activist, social planner, community developer, British Columbia;
- Robert Fern, Co-ordinator of The Organizational Culture Change Initiative, Department of Canadian Heritage;
- Wayne Helgason, executive director, Social Planning Council of Winnipeg and president, National Association of Friendship Centres;
- Dianne Patychuk, social epidemiologist, City of Toronto Public Health Department;
- Roxana Ng, associate professor, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto;
- Roopchand Seebaran, assistant professor, School of Social Work, University of British Columbia;
- Joanne St. Lewis, assistant professor, Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa.
Dr. Audrey Kobayashi, Director of the Institute of Women's Studies, Queen's University, addressed participants at a dinner during the seminar.
This booklet captures the highlights of participants' comments in the workshops. It is divided according to the following themes:
Building inclusive institutions
- building inclusive organizations;
- creating partnerships with diverse communities;
- culturally appropriate service development and delivery;
- inclusive social policy research.
In the workshops, participants talked about the factors that have prompted institutions to review their practices in order to become more inclusive of all forms of diversity. They also discussed the process of institutional change and specific tools that can help organizations in these efforts. It was recognised at the outset that if organizations are to succeed in eliminating barriers for diverse groups, they need to employ various approaches and have a strong commitment to the process of change and foll ow-up.
"Research is ultimately about who has the power to define the social reality, and what counts as knowledge. The power relation that is embedded in the research process and the standpoint of the researcher must be made explicit in any research that attempts to include marginalized and disadvantaged groups."
One way organizations can become more inclusive is to provide cultural competency and anti-racism training for their staff and volunteers. Cultural competency training is a process which enables participants to develop understanding, knowledge and skills in working with culturally diverse groups. Anti-racism training helps participants to develop practices that are free of racism, harassment and discrimination. While seminar participants agreed that one-time cultural competency and anti-racism training is a good mechanism to increase awareness about cultural diversity and discrimination-free practices, on-going training sessions are necessary to sustain learning about these issues.
If institutions decide to make cultural competency and anti-racism training mandatory for staff or volunteers, they must have strong communication processes and adequate supports in place. It is also important to acknowledge the existing cultural competen cy levels of participants in the training process. Further, it is crucial to stop and reassess the training when problems arise.
Of feminist and anti-racist work:
"...we've skimmed over the notion that we are talking about people's rights...we have this notion that it is an optional issue for people...and that the time frame can be set by individuals..."
– parti cipant
Another way to promote inclusivity within an organization is to increase the number of people from different ethno-racial backgrounds on the board of directors. However, participants warned that unless people of different ethno-racial backgrounds have a g enuine history with that institution, their appointment to the board of directors will be seen as tokenism.
In light of the increasing cultural diversity within Canadian society, most institutions need to increase their institutional capacity to become more inclusive. This often requires that they examine the processes and structures within their organisation t hat facilitate, or hinder, the participation of diverse groups.
Seminar participants suggested some considerations that may be helpful before initiating any institutional change agenda:
- Do all components of an institution (management, staff, board members) feel that there is a need for change?
- Are the senior managers committed to and supportive of cultural competency and anti-racism training?
- Should this training be mandatory or voluntary?
- Is there a commitment to receive both positive and negative assessments of the institution?
- Are there adequate resources for the institutional change and training processes to occur?
- Is a communications strategy in place that will keep information flowing throughout the institutional change and training processes?
It is also useful to consider the following questions regarding participation in promoting an inclusive institution:
- Would focus groups enhance the institutional change process?
- Were there initial consultations with interest groups on cultural diversity issues?
- Is there adequate participation in the change process or training to ensure cohesion and ownership of the process?
- Would it be useful to have an advisory committee?
- Does the advisory committee have a clear mandate and membership?
- When is it most effective to introduce the advisory committee into the process?
- Who should be part of the advisory committee?
Further discussions at the seminar highlighted two common barriers that need to be carefully weighed before embarking on institutional change and training processes. First, the readiness of individuals to engage in training needs to be considered. Second, existing problems within the institution that could hinder the training process, such as poor communications, must be considered.
A resource person introduced participants to two tools that can help focusand clarify the process for organizations as they strive to become more inclusive.
The first tool is a checklist of components within the institution that can be assessed for their level of inclusivity:
- organizational or institutional mission and mandate;
- policy, procedures and practices;
- personnel practices;
- institutional make-up and climate;
- goal setting;
- community relations;
- staff and professional development programs and services;
- curriculum; and
- communications and public relations.
The second tool identifies the prerequisites that are needed to support institutional change:
- a commitment from all levels of the organization;
- a mission statement that includes diversity, equity and inclusiveness;
- an assessment of the status of the organization;
- a review of the policies, procedures and practices;
- a review of the personnel practices, including retention and promotion policies;
- identifying the "culture and values" of the organization;
- a review of the skills and training programs;
- a review of the organizational structures;
- a review of the programs and services; and
- community consultation and relationships.
One seminar participant related the following experience that successfully enabled an organization to become more responsive to the needs of culturally diverse groups.
A regional social services department in Ontario made a commitment to provide anti-racism training to all staff members. The department started in 1992 by assessing its anti-racism training needs. Following this assessment, anti-racism training was mand ated for the managers and supervisors. The rest of the staff were invited to attend adult education sessions, but this was not made mandatory. By 1997, more than 200 staff had received training in anti-racist practices. The social services department cont inued its anti-racism efforts by working with members of ethno-racial minorities and settlement agencies to develop a new anti-racism strategy. The success of this regional social services department in its anti-racism efforts was due to its continuing co mmitment to provide cultural competency training.
Creating partnerships with diverse communities
Building diversity-affirming communities requires outreach activities, partnerships, planning and community advocacy by local governments and social policy organizations so that members of the community are included in the process of change.
"...there has to be a view that inclusiveness in any social policy development initiative or practice is seen as a right and a requirement. Diversity must also be viewed as a resource and not an impurity."
– participan t
The purpose of this discussion was twofold. Participants were first asked to identify the different needs and challenges of culturally diverse communities. They were then asked to consider the roles and responsibilities of social and economic institutions in the integration and support of diversity considerations.
Several seminar participants raised concerns about the general tendency of persons working in the social policy development field to create new policies and programs without considering the interrelationship of social issues within the community. For exam ple, if social planners want to address the issue of child poverty, they need to develop a strategy to address the parents' poverty, which in turn is affected by the structure of the community in which the families live. The participants also noted that w hen they engage in community development and planning, some researchers and municipal administrators do not see themselves as part of the community.
Several resource people at the seminar talked about the need to view members of the community as a dynamic resource that can and should be included more effectively in social policy development. Further, they suggested that, collectively, people in the co mmunity are capable of developing answers to their own problems. Participants also suggested that social policy professionals at the local level need to differentiate between community planning and institutional planning. According to one resource person, genuine community planning must involve citizens who articulate the issues and generate outcomes that best serve their community. Too often, institutions or bureaucracies identify the issues and produce outcomes that serve the interests of the organizati on more than the community.
Of Aboriginal and ethno-racial people in Canada:
"...we face some of the same issues and struggles in terms of child poverty and education and racism and discrimination."
Two other community planning issues were identified at the seminar. First, participants acknowledged that conflict is often part of the community development and planning processes. Second, community development and planning becomes exploitative of people , especially those in marginalized groups, when it does not address issues that those groups see as important.
Many seminar participants agreed that partnerships between community stakeholders such as agencies, individuals, cultural and racial groups, and local governments are vital to community-level social policy development work. They suggested that the partner s need to be committed and accountable to each other for the community partnership to work well. And they said that when forming partnerships, it is important to communicate the values and assumptions of each partner at the beginning of the process. Some seminar participants felt that while partnerships can be vibrant in the early stages, unless they are sustained they tend to serve the interests of the institution rather than those of the community.
Further discussions focused on the perception, use and abuse of partnerships in community-based social policy work. The term ‘partnership' implies a relationship where power and control are shared equally. But when organizations and social policy research ers work with powerless and disadvantaged populations within the community, the assumption that all parties are equal is often incorrect because in fact, the organizations and researchers have more resources and power in the decision-making process than t he smaller groups.
Participants also pointed out that in order to build strong community partnerships, it is important to involve various sectors and individuals. For example, if it was decided to mount a strong response to cuts in welfare payments, then creating a partners hip which included labour unions, social service agencies, women's groups and local businesses (all sectors that would feel the economic impact of the cuts) would be an effective mechanism. Some participants stated that unless partnerships involve a genuine sharing of power, they simply reinforce the marginalization of powerless groups within a community. For example, some organizations have consulted with or appointed a few members of Abori ginal or other ethno-racial minority groups to their advisory boards, and considered these actions to be meaningful partnerships. However, if the organizations' practices and procedures remained unchanged, no integration of cultural diversity consideratio ns would result. For meaningful community partnerships to be formed with people from Aboriginal and other ethno-racial backgrounds, the people themselves must be asked to define why, how and with whom they will collaborate.
When community partnerships are being developed, the following questions should be considered:
- Where did the ideas for a community partnership emerge?
- Who drives the partnership agenda?
- How are decisions made by the partnership?
- What form do these community partnerships take?
- Who is really empowered by such a partnership?
- How do we know whether these initiatives have met their objectives?
Several success stories follow of outstanding and innovative inclusive community work in social policy development.
- A Public Health Department in Alberta initiated a maternal infant health project that provided training for women from diverse ethno-racial groups to become health educators within their own communities. The peer educators had a major impact on the l ives of the women they were helping. These peer educators became cultural brokers and a critical link between the women and existing health service providers. The role of the peer educators gradually expanded as they helped the women to overcome their iso lation and address other issues of concern such as financial difficulties. An evaluation of the project is currently taking place.
- In Quebec, a non-profit funding agency wanted to support efforts to increase the participation of ethno-racial minorities in non-profit organisations. They set up a pilot project to provide funding that will allow participants to receive training th at builds on their existing skills, as well as other supports. The three communities in this project were selected according to various socio-economic criteria.
- In a British Columbia community where about 20% of the population is of non-English descent, the city's parks and recreation department formed a committee that was very proactive in examining the parks and recreation needs of minority groups in the city. In the past, members of ethno-racial groups had not been vocal about their needs in this area.
- The committee formed a partnership that included representatives of 28 ethnocultural groups. Members in the partnership provided valuable services such as translation, hosting events, and circulating information. In addition, outreach activities were tremendously successful, with information about the process provided to people at all kinds of events, from small kitchen gatherings to meetings in temples with over 800 participants.
- Through this partnership, cross-cultural education and communication about day-to-day issues was accomplished among a wide range of ethno-racial minority groups. An implementation program is being developed, with the involvement of the ethnocultural groups, to make the city's parks and recreational facilities more responsive to the needs of the community. Each cultural group has offered to provide some resources to obtain the necessary services that they have identified.
- This work by the partnership has also led to an acceptance of the process by members of the general population, despite initial fears that they might lose resources. And new partnerships to address the needs of minority groups are being developed bet ween the city's parks and recreation department and different agencies of the provincial and federal governments, and a local university.
- In a city in the Maritimes, a group of parents created a committee so that they could become more involved in the educational system, introduce African heritage into the schools, hire teachers of African descent, and increase awareness of equity iss ues among the children. So far, the program has had very positive results. At Christmas, for example, for the first time some of the school children drew Santa Claus with brown skin.
- In Quebec, an anti-poverty group has a developed a new project to reach out to different ethnocultural groups. The anti-poverty group operates a recycled clothing store which occupies a large space on a busy street. Through this project, ethnocultur al groups use the store window to publicise an event or a cause. Although the program is new, it has already led to some contacts with various ethnocultural groups.
- In British Columbia, a street association was formed to help create jobs. It was established after a community worker who had been hired to talk to the people living downtown found out that many of the younger, homeless people wished to find work. T his street association runs "street meet" sessions that are open to everyone.
- In a large Quebec city where neighbourhoods contain many different ethnic groups and the unemployment rate is chronically high, tensions between the local police and various ethnic communities have also been high. In an effort to improve this situat ion, an apprenticeship program was established to team up local youth with police officers on the job. The goal is to improve the youths' self-esteem and job skills. Communications between the police and the ethnocultural communities have also improved: p olice officers now learn about the youths and their communities, and the young people learn about the realities of police work.
- An Ontario city planning department has initiated a five-year project to revitalise organizations, and to assess the needs and provide resources to people living in specific neighbourhoods. Some core funding has been provided by the city to local or ganizations, and the process and outcomes will be evaluated by the people in the neighbourhoods who are involved in the project.
The following story describes an attempt at partnership that did not produce positive results for all of the participants.
- In one Ontario municipality, a multicultural bridging initiative twinned large agencies with smaller, ethnocultural organisations. The results of the program evaluation showed that the large agencies felt they had gained from the partnership but the smaller groups felt used by it. The large agencies came away with more knowledge about diversity and were able to hire the best people from the smaller, ethnocultural organisations. In addition, the large agencies reacted negatively to the evaluation res ults.
Culturally appropriate service development and delivery
At the seminar, participants explored the characteristics of culturally appropriate and accessible services, and discussed ways to deliver such services in culturally diverse communities.
For the purposes of the seminar, accessible and culturally appropriate services were identified as those which were developed and delivered in ways that respected cultural beliefs and practices. An example of one such initiative came from an Ontario regio n, where members of a working group composed of representatives from community agencies and from municipal and provincial governments worked together to improve the access to social services for clients who did not speak either French or English.
Seminar participants identified solid planning and community involvement as critical to successfully obtaining funds or resources for accessible and culturally appropriate services. Some participants added that creativity is also needed to acquire and sus tain resources for these services.
Two other useful points were made by participants. First, those who develop services for culturally diverse communities need to be part of a continuous education process so that their understanding of cultural diversity issues and practices keeps evolving , and is free from racism, harassment and discrimination. Second, before accessible and culturally appropriate services can be developed, it is important to identify the methodologies and ideologies underlying the existing service delivery methods.
Some seminar participants suggested that the developers of social programs should consider the following questions if they want the services to be accessible and culturally appropriate:
- Who is responsible for doing the research to determine the need for new services and programs – the diverse groups within the community, or agencies such as social planning councils that have a mandate to work with groups in the community?
- What are the legal responsibilities of social service providers, particularly with respect to statutory services such as health and education? (For example, is it acceptable for a janitor to act as an interpreter for a client?)
- Is respect for client confidentiality maintained when, for example, informal interpreters are used?
- Is there adequate involvement and participation in the service development and delivery processes by people in the community?
"If we cannot work on multiple levels to understand the ways in which culture may be informed by patriarchy, including our own, then we can't understand which cultural norms to use to assess the situation in a respectful way when women and childre n of that community may be vulnerable to a cultural practice.''
One resource person introduced a tool that is used in focused and intensive planning work, called PATH (Planning Alternative Tomorrows with Hope). It is a visual tool that can be used in a variety of situations, from helping families to work on issues, t o community development. PATH is used most successfully with people who have already made a commitment to planning for change.
The PATH diagram is not included in the electronic version of this report. To obtain the published report, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The following examples presented at the seminar demonstrate successful ways of developing and delivering accessible and culturally appropriate services.
- In Manitoba, a pilot project has been designed to build stable and sustainable neighbourhoods in disadvantaged areas and poor northern communities. This project is designed to be responsive, accessible and culturally appropriate to community needs. A social planning council is co-ordinating the project, with emphasis on creating strong linkages between a number of community resources and agencies.
The project has three partner sites: a family centre; a housing resource centre; and a friendship centre. The first site is a family-oriented neighbourhood resource centre where staff and volunteers are working to increase the capacity of neighbourhood r esidents to identify and resolve local issues. At the housing resource centre, members of the community are working with staff to address local concerns about community safety. At the friendship centre, programs are designed to create harmony by meeting t he needs of the community they serve.
- In Ontario, a child protection agency reached out to many different ethno-racial groups including the Laotian, Cambodian, Vietnamese and South Asian communities. Because child welfare work is foreign to most of these cultures, the agency worked to c orrect its image as a "child snatcher" among people in these culturally diverse communities through outreach and public education activities.
Inclusive social policy research
Participants at the seminar discussed the challenges of conducting social policy research that is inclusive of culturally diverse groups. They considered methods to increase inclusivity in the design of the following research components: theoretical frame works; participatory research; qualitative and quantitative research methodologies; sampling procedures; and methods of analysis.
"Research is ultimately about who has the power to define the social reality, and what counts as knowledge. The power relation that is embedded in the research process and the standpoint of the researcher must be made explicit in any research that attempts to include marginalized and disadvantaged groups." – participant
One resource person suggested that using socio-cultural indicators in applied quantitative research can provide an inclusive assessment of needs and results. However, this resource person stated that few effective socio-cultural indicators for ethno-racia l inequalities have been developed.
Participants referred to existing research that should be considered when trying to conduct inclusive research: gender-based analysis that is developing methods of researching inequalities, and some early childhood intervention projects that have develope d useful measures of community development.
The resource person stressed the importance of looking at the broader context of the community when collecting and analysing socio-cultural indicators. She suggested that while numerical results are easy to obtain, they are meaningless if they are taken o ut of context. For example, if AIDS rates are high in a particular neighbourhood where certain ethnocultural groups are concentrated, the conclusion might be drawn that these groups present a risk to the larger community. But if the context of the neighbo urhood is assessed, we might discover that the high AIDS rate is related to other variables, such as the number of transient houses and clusters of service agencies in the neighbourhood.
"...there is no objective or neutral research. All research is shaped by the intention and standpoint of the researcher."
This resource person offered the following ideas: first, it is important to realise the political implications of your research, and to present politically-oriented recommendations. For example, if you recommend that social programs should be funded from income taxes rather than from residential taxes, you are putting the onus on the federal government to deliver services, rather than the municipal government.
Second, those in the social policy field should be sensitive to and respectful of cultural practices. For example, a researcher should be aware that in the Filipino community, pregnant women will not visit a physician until the third trimester because the y do not like male physicians.
Finally, it is crucial to be sensitive to the use of labels and negative language. Terms such as "dysfunctional families" and "children raised on social assistance" can create a biased perspective in the research by generalizing the negative social charac teristics of these groups.
When conducting qualitative participatory research, researchers must consider the power relations of every aspect of the project, including the choice of participants, and the design and interpretation of the data. Power relations between the researcher a nd the research participants, especially if they are from a marginalized group, are often unequal. Thus, the information collected by the researcher may not be valid. It was also stressed that researchers should clearly state their values, assumptions and analytical perspectives at the beginning of the research process.
"Doing inclusive research, does not simply entail a set of techniques. It includes a set of principles for addressing issues of power, privilege, and the very purpose of the research itself."
It is crucial that researchers recognise that people in the community are very knowledgeable about their problems and often have solutions. The researcher's role is to help to draw out the information and facilitate the ways in which the information is us ed. Seminar participants were reminded about the importance of finding a balance in their research role, since it is neither useful to pull back too far from the researcher's expertise, nor to discount the community's knowledge.
When conducting participatory research, it should be acknowledged from the outset that the researcher is only one of many people involved in the project, and he/she does not have exclusive ownership of it. The resource person noted that this is a particul arly sensitive issue in the academic environment, and it needs to be discussed at the beginning of the process. Academics often feel tension because they need to maintain ownership of the research in order to publish the results. However, once the researc h has been completed, it can be shared with and used by both academic and community groups.
Another consideration when conducting inclusive research is the issue of representation – that is, how does the researcher define groups? Who is left out, and why? To be inclusive, the research design team should include consumers. Further, the research s hould be written in plain language so that it is accessible to all stakeholders and research participants.
Seminar participants discussed the role and implications of conducting project evaluations. Some people stated that the evaluations should assess the impact of the research on the community, in addition to any other measurements required for funding purpo ses. One participant suggested that it was useful to document how the research had changed, and to identify any issues that had emerged but were not addressed in the research. Evaluations should involve a broad range of stakeholders such as consumers, com munity groups, institutions or organisations, funders, and other agencies external to the research project. Finally, participants noted that evaluations should also be conducted with the goal of assisting in the planning of future projects.
Seminar participants suggested the following considerations to help ensure that quantitative research incorporates the concerns of diverse cultural groups:
- Are data being collected with the participation, permission and knowledge of the research participants in the cultural community?
- How does the specific cultural community define its problems?
- How do the issues being researched for the cultural community fit within the context of the whole community?
- What are the political implications of policy issues for the cultural community?
- Is there sufficient organizational and community support for the inclusive research?
- Regarding quantitative tools that can be used to assess the impact of policies on culturally diverse groups:
- Will this tool increase equity?
- Will this tool promote empowerment?
- Will this tool affect the accessibility and cultural appropriateness of services?
Similarly, the following considerations were suggested to help clarify research issues:
- Why and for whom is the research being conducted?
- Who owns the information – the community at large, the cultural community, or the researcher?
- What information already exists in the cultural community?
- Are all stakeholders represented on the research design team?
- Who should be advocates for issues arising from this research done at the community level – the researcher(s) or members of the community?
Some tools to enhance inclusive, quantitative, community-based research were put forward:
- A conceptual research framework that is inclusive of cultural diversity.
- Ideas for the visual presentation of information such as graphs, charts and mapping of indicators on neighbourhood maps. This is a very effective way of highlighting the issues and looking at them from different perspectives.
"... a research process is accountable...not only to the funders and the researcher's organisation, but also to the people for whom the research is intended."
It was also suggested that working with coalitions and bringing a variety of sectors together provides more resources and adds credibility to the process. Finally, participants noted that when program assessments are conducted, the assessors should not on ly meet the requirements set by the funders – which are usually to measure the availability and accessibility of services – they should also examine the program's impact on individuals and communities.
Below are some examples of inclusive social policy research that were shared at the seminar:
- Municipal officials from an Ontario city agreed that AIDS data should be removed from a study conducted by some physicians because it had not been collected in consultation with the respective communities. This AIDS study contained data about ethno- racial origins. In their next report, the physicians avoided the AIDS issue altogether but in subsequent reports, they consulted with the ethno-racial minority groups before publishing any results.
- In another Ontario city, a committee of volunteers, agency representatives and community members came together to examine the economic and personal impact of cuts in provincial government spending. The municipal health department gave the committee $1,500 to develop a research agenda.
Committee members decided that their first priority would be to conduct an audit of the impact of social service funding cuts on the local economy. Community participants were involved in all stages of the research planning process and were paid for thei r time by the health department. The committee created a survey instrument and trained welfare recipients to collect the data. In all, 47 retailers were interviewed. The results showed that most of the retailers had lost business as a result of the cuts t o welfare. The committee then obtained additional monies to conduct a residential survey.
Ethnocultural concerns were addressed throughout the project. For example, the participants noted that one question, which asked respondents whether they supported the government, could be seen as threatening to immigrants and refugee claimants from repr essive regimes. The question was removed. Collectively, the team members spoke eight different languages. In the end, the profile of survey respondents in the study closely approximated census data, indicating that the project had successfully reached out to the various socio-cultural groups.
- In the 1970s in British Columbia, members of a women's research group travelled to small communities in the province to teach women how to conduct research in their own communities. The process began by having the women walk around the community to observe the difficulties. The women then sat around in a circle, discussed the problems that they had identified, and devised strategies to make changes for their community.
- During the 1970s, there was very little research available on the experiences or needs of immigrant women. To increase the information available on this group, an immigrant women's agency in B.C. received a grant to bring together community workers o f various ethno-racial backgrounds to discuss the similarities and differences in their work, and to describe how their work was affected, positively and negatively, by their organizations. The agency also received a grant to gather information about immi grant women's perspectives on family violence since the literature did not reflect their experiences.
- In an Ontario city, researchers interested in immigrant women contacted an immigrant women's group, and in conjunction with the group they interviewed immigrant housewives to learn about the difficulties they encountered in Canada.
Conceptual framework for ethno-racial health research diagram
This diagram is not included in the electronic version of this report. To obtain the published report, please email email@example.com.
The increasing cultural and ethno-racial diversity of Canadian society means that the needs of individuals and communities are changing. Meeting those changing needs requires new ways of carrying out social policy development work. A truly meaningful resp onse to diversity is the only route towards achieving excellence in social policy development work. As communities across Canada become more diverse, traditional methods of conducting social policy development work must change. It is estimated that by the turn of the century, the majority of new entrants into the labour force will be women, and represen tatives of Aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities, and racial minorities. This should have a great impact on social policy development in the areas of labour force trends and adjustments, and in other social programs.
This booklet offers a glimpse of some social policy development work that is inclusive of the culturally diverse populations in many communities across Canada. Social policy practitioners and researchers must rise to the challenge of integrating diversity considerations into their ongoing work to provide:
- accurate research and analysis;
- inclusive social planning and practices;
- effective outreach and partnerships; and
- services and programs that are accessible and culturally appropriate.
The challenge in social policy development is to approach and work with ethno-racial and culturally diverse populations both as separate groups, and as a part of the whole community.
Copyright © 1997 by the Canadian Council on Social Development. All rights reserved. No part of this booklet may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, or by any information stor age or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
The views and opinions expressed in this booklet were recorded from seminar participants and do not necessarily reflect the position or policies of Canadian Heritage, the Canadian Council on Social Development or Carleton University.
Inclusive Social Policy Development: Ideas for practitioners
Aussi disponible en français sous le titre : Le développement d'une politique sociale inclusive : Idées à l'intention des intervenants
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