Multicultural Hands

New Cultural Competence Intensive Technical Assistance Options from the Great Lakes ATTC, MHTTC, and PTTC

Publication Date: Feb 14, 2020

The Great Lakes region includes urban and rural areas with increasingly diverse populations. Our region (HHS Region 5, covering IL, IN, MI, MN, OH, and WI) is home to a large Hispanic and Latino population: according to the U.S. Census, between 2000 and 2010, the Hispanic population grew by 49% in the Midwest. Minnesota and Wisconsin are home to the nation's second and third-largest Hmong populations. Minnesota and Ohio are also home to large Somali communities. And more than 30 federally-recognized American Indian Tribes reside in HHS Region 5. 

The growing diversity in our region highlights the need for intensive technical assistance (ITA) for behavioral health professionals seeking to build their skills and knowledge in providing prevention, treatment, and recovery services to clients from other cultures.

The Great Lakes ATTC, MHTTC, and PTTC have developed a series of ITA options designed to address this critical need. The trainings were developed in collaboration with the National Hispanic and Latino MHTTC and subject matter experts and stakeholders from the communities represented. 

Cerrato notes that the training options emerged from needs identified by stakeholders across the region.

“As I move about our region and listen to the cultural competency training needs of our behavioral health workforce, I consistently hear the desire for training focused on building critical thinking skills and understanding, rather than just a cultural knowledge base or a framework,” says Cerrato.  “Our workforce is communicating the need to learn how to navigate the new and unknown in a world that is becoming increasingly diverse. Cultural competency is, by my definition, a set of critical and communication skills that encompass and transcend an array of worldviews. That is cultural competency!”

All of the trainings are available in full-day or half-day options.

“Our ITA events focus on giving participants skills and knowledge that they can apply immediately in their daily work,” adds Cerrato. “And because we know that a single half- or full-day training is not sufficient for lasting change, we are creating layered sets of trainings.”

Layered trainings allow participants to build the lasting skills that can sustain change in an organization.

“We may start with training about our own bias or cultural elements of a particular group dominant in our region,” Cerrato explains. “After, we may move on to communication principles, cultural adaptation, and clinical application using evidence-based practices adapted to our cultural needs. However, our goal is to end the training sets with additional practical application that encompasses history, leadership agility, and organization change. The sequence of our training is taking a turn beyond cultural awareness with newly added goals of applicability and sustainability.”

For more information or to arrange an ITA initiative for your agency, email Alfredo Cerrato at