Striving to Provide Culturally Competent Services for API Community

By: MaiBao

In a collaborative effort to provide trauma-informed, culturally-specific services to the Asian Pacific Islander (API) community in Stanislaus County, Haven Women’s Center joined My Sister’s House’s Next Generation Project last year. After critically analyzing Haven’s programs, policies, and activities, we realized that Haven has some shortcomings in proficiently providing services for the API community.

Our agency doesn’t see many API clients. We are aware that gender-based violence affects people from all backgrounds, and the API community is not an exception. We wondered if our low numbers in API clients has to do with cultural barriers to seeking help, or is the problem on our part, not having a presence in the API community. Haven lacks an outreach program that goes out to the community to network, educate, and engage. It’s not that we don’t have the desire to reach out; it is because we lack the resources and manpower to do so. Could this be why our numbers of API clients are low? This led us to think, “What if we, as members participating in Next Generation, were to do the outreach? How successful would that be?” Not so much. We didn’t have the capacity to do outreach on top of our regular duties of our respective positions at Haven.

Additionally, during the time we put our efforts in reaching out, we realized that we didn’t know where or how to get connected with the API community. We are very much disconnected from them that we don’t know who community leaders are, where each API group congregates, or ,in the very least, who would be a good contact to start all this. Because of the sensitivity of gender-based violence in the API community, we couldn’t barge in without a plan and without being invited into their space. One important problem arose: We need to carefully plan how to address gender-based violence in the API community without them feeling we are imposing on their culture and customs. We need it to be a collaborative effort on both ends for this to work. We need to hear what they need from us.

As Haven Women’s Center starts its second year with My Sister’s House, we look forward to making changes to be more trauma-informed and culturally competent. This may mean creating a position solely dedicated to reach out and collaborate with the community, expanding our language capacity, or bringing in community leaders to talk about their needs. We do not have answers to any of the challenges we currently face, but addressing gender-based violence in the API community is very important to us, and that’s why we are dedicating our time to figuring it out.