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What is Cultural Reciprocity?

Aug 31, 2016

Cultural reciprocity is a crucial skill for all infant/family staff because it helps to ensure that staff and families are able to discuss these issues from a perspective of openness, learning, and acceptance.

Children develop within the context of family, community and cultural expectations. Culture is the implied or apparent rules and traditions shared by a group of people and expressed through their beliefs, values and goals (Kalyanpur and Harry, 1999). Culture shapes people’s understanding of the world. The influence of culture on child and family development is profound, and is especially important during the child’s first years of life.

Cultural reciprocity refers to the efforts of infant/family staff to understand families’ cultural beliefs, and to use this understanding as a way to help promote the healthy development of infants and toddlers. It refers to a staff member’s ability to respect families’ beliefs and traditions, and look for ways to meet families’ unique needs while still upholding program objectives. The model of cultural reciprocity asks infant/family staff members to look at (observe) the family, listen to the family, and learn more about their beliefs before proposing a course of action or determining what services the family might need. Using the model of cultural reciprocity helps to ensure that families are included as equal partners in the program. The model includes the four steps listed below.

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