This article is based on a study of two early years services in the West of Ireland which was attended mostly by asylum seekers. Using a sample of the findings for illustration, we discuss how the study captured an example of culturally sensitive practice that demonstrated an ability to counteract some of the negative effects of being an asylum seeker through the particular philosophy and practice model. Eight specific guidance points for practice are drawn out and considered within the context of the ecological model [Bronfenbrenner, U., & Morris, P. (2006). The bioecological model of human development. In R. M. Lerner, W. Damon, & R. M. S. Lerner (Eds.), Handbook of child Psychology, Vol. 1: Theoretical models of human development. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley]. We argue that a duality of attention to the agency—recognising the importance of the actions of each individual and to structure—recognising the inherent power differences, structural inequality, social injustice and prejudice—is essential. We show the importance of agency and of an ecological framework. We make the case for an approach to “cultural competence” that emphasises the importance of interactions at the micro level. While we are focused in this paper on the early years sector, there is also wider applicability from this specific study to general practice in the field of social care and social work with diverse populations.
- Cultural competence
- framework for practice