Culturally & Linguistically Appropriate Services (C.L.A.S.)
The Office of Health Equity is dedicated to supporting the Maine CDC and our partners throughout the state to address the CLAS Standards. The Office of Minority Health developed the CLAS Standards to provide public health and healthcare professionals with a framework to improve health equity. CLAS was created to contribute to the elimination of racial and ethnic health disparities and to make services more responsive to individual need. The CLAS Standards also provide strategies for organizations and systems to be culturally competent.
Cultural Competence is a set of behaviors, attitudes and policies that come together in a system that enables effective work in cross-cultural situations.
Some of the CLAS Standards are quality improvement suggestions that can be addressed in a number of ways. Some however were designed to address language access needs to ensure compliance with Title 6 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination in the provision of public services on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin.
To see what work OHE is doing to implement CLAS Standards in Maine, see this page: OHE's Work on CLAS
- Provide effective, equitable, understandable, and respectful quality care and services that are responsive to diverse cultural health beliefs and practices, preferred languages, health literacy, and other communication needs.
Governance, Leadership and Workforce:
- Advance and sustain organizational governance and leadership that promotes CLAS and health equity through policy, practices, and allocated resources.
- Recruit, promote, and support a culturally and linguistically diverse governance, leadership, and workforce that are responsive to the population in the service area.
- Educate and train governance, leadership, and workforce in culturally and linguistically appropriate policies and practices on an ongoing basis.
Communication and Language Assistance:
- Offer language assistance to individuals who have limited English proficiency and/or other communication needs, at no cost to them, to facilitate timely access to all health care and services.
- Inform all individuals of the availability of language assistance services clearly and in their preferred language, verbally and in writing.
- Ensure the competence of individuals providing language assistance, recognizing that the use of untrained individuals and/or minors as interpreters should be avoided.
- Provide easy-to-understand print and multimedia materials and signage in the languages commonly used by the populations in the service area.
Engagement, Continuous Improvement, and Accountability:
- Establish culturally and linguistically appropriate goals, policies, and management accountability, and infuse them throughout the organization's planning and operations.
- Conduct ongoing assessments of the organization's CLAS-related activities and integrate CLAS-related measures into measurement and continuous quality improvement activities.
- Collect and maintain accurate and reliable demographic data to monitor and evaluate the impact of CLAS on health equity and outcomes and to inform service delivery.
- Conduct regular assessments of community health assets and needs and use the results to plan and implement services that respond to the cultural and linguistic diversity of populations in the service area.
- Partner with the community to design, implement, and evaluate policies, practices, and services to ensure cultural and linguistic appropriateness.
- Create conflict and grievance resolution processes that are culturally and linguistically appropriate to identify, prevent, and resolve conflicts or complaints.
- Communicate the organization's progress in implementing and sustaining CLAS to all stakeholders, constituents, and the general public.