Running head: Cultural Immersion & Agency Assessment Report 1

Cultural Immersion & Agency Assessment Report

Venus Davis

Wilmington University
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This cultural immersion paper will discuss single parents as a culture. Information will be
provided by way of research from articles, documentaries, personal immersion experience,
observations, websites and a host of other sources. The purpose of this research is to become
more aware of this culture, to become culturally competent when addressing this population. The
research will add to any knowledge that I might already be aware of as well as eliminate any
stereotypes or misconceptions that I might possess. Also, I will obtain a deeper insight into some
of the decisions and behaviors that are acceptable within this culture. All the researched
information will help me to examine how culturally competent my agency is with this population
and how the agency uses NOHS standards to accommodate their needs ethically.
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Cultural Immersion & Agency Assessment Report

For my cultural immersion topic, I chose to research single parents/parenting. Outside of

the traditional nuclear family there’s single parents, co-parenting and “choice moms” all of

which I will examine within the paper. Throughout this assignment you will hear stories based

on documentaries, articles and personal experiences within the culture. I will elaborate on the

topic threw statistics, behaviors, mindsets, stereotypes, misconceptions, and social norms. I will

even provide differences between single mom and single dad households. I plan on incorporating

how the Boys & Girls of Claymont works with this specific population and adheres to the NOHS

standards to ethically provide services to single parents.

A single parent is a parent that parents alone without the other parents support etc

(Wikipedia, 2017). Historically, the cause of single parenting was due to the death of the other

parent from either wars, disease or pregnancy complications in more recent time that’s not the

leading causes. Nowadays, the more prevalent reasons are divorce, unmarried, adoption,

incarceration, and by choice. A mother is more often the primary caregiver in a single-parent

family structure that has arisen due to death of the partner, intentional artificial insemination,

divorce or unplanned pregnancy (Wikipedia, 2017). In the United States, 83% of single parents

are mothers (Single Mothers Guide, 2017). The number of single father households has increased

about nine-fold since 1960, from less than 300,000 to more than 2.6 million in 2011 (Livingston,


Even though life in a single parent household can be common it can be quite stressful for

the adult and the children. I will elaborate on some behaviors that I witnessed in the documentary

I watched that were due to everyday stress. The single parent may feel overwhelmed by the

responsibility of juggling caring for the children, maintaining a job and keeping up with the bills
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and household chores (Families, 2017). According to the American Psychological Association

these are stressors faced by single parent families (Families, 2017):

 Visitation and custody problems.

 The effects of continuing conflict between the parents.

 Less opportunity for parents and children to spend time together.

 Effects of the breakup on children's school performance and peer relations.

 Disruptions of extended family relationships.

 Problems caused by the parents' dating and entering new relationships.

Co-parenting is a big trend that has evolved from single parenting. Co-parenting describes a

parenting situation where the parents are not in a marriage, cohabitation, or romantic relationship

with one another (Gaspard, 2016). The term 'co-parent' may also be used to describe a situation

where, following divorce or separation, the child's parents seek to maintain equal or equivalent

responsibility for the child's upbringing (Gaspard, 2016). Outside of a traditional household I

believe co-parenting is a phenomenal method to raise kids, but this requires maturity,

unselfishness, communication, effort and a host of other characteristics to make this successful. I

remember a few years ago I was at a community college with one of the youth I worked with and

she was telling me about how she was dating a guy that just had a baby, so I was trying to help

her problem solve on why this wasn’t a good idea especially with me knowing her personally.
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There was a guy near us that overheard the conversation and started to explain to her about how

co-parenting can be so difficult until its finally established and working properly if at all. He

encouraged her that since everything was so new to save herself all the future drama and get

herself out of the situation before she’s in too deep. Co-parenting requires you to remove all

feelings, emotions, heartaches and make it all about your children I would say especially for

women that’s not easy to do because their emotional by nature even though a lot of them would

do anything for their children.

Amongst the African American culture, it is theorized that incarceration has played an

immense impact on the family dynamic dating back to slavery times. The documentary 13th

discusses how families were split apart by being sold into slavery starting single families in

African American communities. Once slavery was abolished then there’s a clause in the 13th

amendment that basically says you are a slave if your punished for committing a crime. I

highlighted 3 facts from the documentary that supports the correlation between single parent

homes and incarceration in the African American community. 1 in 3 Black males is expected to

go to prison in his lifetime (DuVernay, 2016). 1 in 17 white males is expected to go to prison in

his lifetime (DuVernay, 2016). Black men account for an estimated 6.5% of the U.S. population,

however, they make up 40.2% of the U.S. prison population (DuVernay, 2016). The United

States has the highest rate of incarceration in the world (DuVernay, 2016). In our country

Ninety-two percent of the more than 800,000 incarcerated parents in federal and state prisons are

fathers (DadTalk Blog, 2017).

Single fathers are another up and coming trend. You have men either coming home from

jail trying to be fathers to their children or separating from their partner and having sole custody

over their children. President Obama started the fatherhood and mentoring initiative to help
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support men be the father that they thrive to be. In a few articles, I read there I noticed a few

common differences between single father and single mother households. I read that single father

households typically make more income in comparison to women who a large percentage of

them are below the poverty line. Men are likely to line in cohabitant households while single

parenting in comparison to women living either alone with their children or with their own

parents. Also, women are noted as being with a higher education background in comparison to

single dads. What I found interesting about the last one is that the statistics showed women are

more educated, but more live beneath the poverty line how does that happen if supposedly there

no salary discrimination against men and women.

For my indirect cultural experience, I watched a documentary entitled Paycheck to

Paycheck. The documentary was about a single mother of 3, who is currently separated from her

husband because of his addiction to prescription pills. Her kids hated and blamed her for their

parents not being together, which is a common trend amongst these situations. She is responsible

for managing her household (taking care of kids, paying bills, car maintenance), she works a full-

time job only making $9.49 an hour, along with taking care of herself or lack thereof. The

documentary stated, “42 million women which is 1 in 3 are living in poverty or teetering on its

brink, it said that more than 13 million of them are mothers of young children.” (Paycheck to

Paycheck, 2014)

Katrina stated that her biggest fear was being a single mom. She drops her kids off every

morning at a local 24/7 center that provides daycare for working moms that are in poverty and

they pay a reduced fee. She must make sure her children stay healthy because her financial

circumstances don’t allow for her to miss days of work. When she gets paid she must decide

which bills to pay and others she gives partial payments. She was supposed to be getting child
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support from him, but from him not having a job she wasn’t receiving any. She stated, “I don’t

even need all the money I’m supposed to receive, but $60 would be great even just a tank of gas

would suffice” (Paycheck to Paycheck, 2014).

Some of the common themes you could see throughout the movie was her sacrificing,

behaviors displayed by the kids especially the son, co-parenting, her trying to develop a new

relationship and tough decision making. Due to her lack of finances she had to sacrifice buying

her medication for her thyroid disease to take of her household, she had to wait until tax season

for all her medical appointments because she doesn’t have health insurance and even with that

she couldn’t get all her prescriptions. In the movie, she wanted to be able to have free time to

spend with a man she was interested in, but you never saw her do that unless they both brought

their kids together, he was a single dad of four. Her son would act up in school because of his all

the stress the kids had to endure. At a certain point, she did start co-parenting with the dad but

his financial situation was worse than hers so she was doing all the transporting so they could

spend time with each other.

The outcome of the documentary was her telling her ex-husband that if he found a job

closer to where they lived he could have her house and she would move in with her new

boyfriend. As soon as she moved in her boyfriend lost custody of his daughters causing him to

have to start paying child support, which added new stress because they were potentially going to

lose the house due to lack of finances. Katrina and her ex did a great job with co-parenting along

with her balancing her new relationship and it didn’t seem to affect the children. There are a few

things I didn’t notice in her that I have observed in other single parent households. I have noticed

that some parents overcompensate for the absence of the other parent, some don’t hold their

children accountable for their behaviors, they do everything for them, sometimes they make
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excuses for them and they operate in a lot of guilt. Now some of these observations can be true

for households that have both parents, but I’ve witnessed it more with single moms.

The direct culture immersion experience happened a few months ago when I went to a

mother/son dance. You could bring any male that you play a role in their life so for me it was

aunt/nephew. I was interested in the event because you always hear about father/daughter

dances. I thought it would be nice to dress up, get my nephew out the house and interact with

other people. There were single mothers there sharing their stories of how they’ve overcame so

many obstacles in having to raise a son on her own. One woman wrote a song that was dedicated

to her sons. She sung it to them and her story had to deal with getting out of a domestic violence

relationship leaving them living in a homeless shelter. The parents there were truly happy to be

away from their hectic lives and can get all dolled up which doesn’t happen often and spend

quality time with their boys. The boys ages ranged from toddlers to adults and it was a joy to see

them in their suits. During the event we laughed, we danced, we ate, we cried. There was a

pinning ceremony where the boys made an oath to the women in their lives and vice versa. I’ve

included a few pictures one with my nephew and I, the second one with my nephew two stepping

with another young man’s grandmother and the last picture just an overview of everyone dressed

up having a good time.
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My agency is the Boys and Girls Club of Claymont, Delaware it is located on 500 Darley

Road Claymont, Delaware. Our location is pushed away from the road you would pass it by if

your traveling on Darley Road and we are connected to an alternative school. Majority of our

population are single parent’s men and women that receive services threw the Boys & Girls Club

and that work in the local businesses. The community surrounding the agency appears to be nice

and quiet. We are located about 2 miles off a major highway with a housing complex in front and

apartment complex behind. There is a YMCA about 5 minutes away along with Talley middle

school, Claymont, Maple Lane, Forward and PS elementary those are the schools our youth

attend. We are within walking distance of Woodshaven Kruse Park and Claymont public library.

About a mile away there’s Philadelphia Pike where there are tons of stores, restaurants, banks

and gas stations. Community Hospital of Chester is the closest hospital being 10 minutes away.
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As nice as the neighborhood seems and looks I have heard of some of the teens that

attend the Boys and Girls club selling drugs locally and at the club itself. We had a discussion

with the older group of summer fun club youth about drugs and one youth was saying how he

witnessed drugs being sold in the parking lot of the local school while he was playing basketball.

Claymont has a population of 9,242 with 65% being Caucasian and 26% being African

American (Population & Demographics, 2017). The average of the population that reside in

Claymont is 36 years of age and more than half the population is married (Population &

Demographics, 2017). To me that statistic is interesting because even though it seems like a lot

of our youth are part of single parent households, but based on the statistics more are with

married adults. Within our club we have Christians, Muslims and Catholics.

People of my chosen population get to the Boys & Girls Club by either foot, bus, Uber, or

personal vehicles. Most of the parents arrive by driving their own cars. I do know of some

parents and employees that live in the apartment complex behind the club so they walk back and
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forth. One of the staff who is part of my researched population walks to the club and her children

walk their as well, since their teenagers they volunteer with the little kids. Also, there’s a bus

stop right in front of the club the DART route 1 (DART First State, 2017).

The served population all live in the catchment area and this is made possible due to the

numerous Boys and Girls Clubs in Delaware so most residents have one near them. People can

find out about the clubs on our website along with organizations that provide programming for

the club for example University of Delaware, United Way and Planned Parenthood. There are

also schools that provide information, social media pages like Facebook, and social service

offices. Boys and Girls Club is the longest running organization of its kind leading the way for

others to follow, so people also know about the clubs by word of mouth and that’s probably the

most effective way.

I will be completely honest if I was a single parent and I walked into our club I wouldn’t

feel really welcomed and not because of that population specifically, but just in general. The

waiting area is dimly lit and dreary also there’s a big distance between the counter and front

door. Even if you wanted to welcome someone as soon as they entered the front door to

eliminate that initial appearance you couldn’t unless when the receptionist buzzed people in she

walked up and greeted them at the door and walked them to the counter. There is a bench and

two chairs that are in the waiting area that are painted in various colors. There’s also two white

boards up there with information for parents. I suggested a message center for parents that had

some motivational quotes on it to inspire them when they leave out for work and return from a

long day. The administrative assistant is very personable and informative, so she is the reason

people feel comfortable coming to the club because she is their first encounter once they enter

the building.
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There’s a counselor and receptionist that’s part of the culture that I’ve researched, but

nobody would know that unless it came up in a conversation. If the paper was about being a

woman or African American I would see myself represented in the staff, but as a single parent

that’s not something you can tell by looking at someone. I believe they are comfortable coming

to the club for a few reasons the staff you see when you first enter are women, they have been

attending the club for a long time and the culture of the club as a whole they fit in. The brochures

for the club are ethnically diverse by way of pictures of children, in a language and format that is

understandable to me.

As far as administration and staff training goes there is staff training, but more about

child abuse topics rather than cultural competency. Even training about topics like mindfulness

are for the upper management rather than the direct care staff. There are no staff training on

cultural competency. There are no trainings specific to teaching about single parenting, which

would be a good one because it would help with staff interactions with parents and to help them

navigate behaviors that children might be displaying. Before this project I would have never

looked at single parents as a culture, but when I think about the ones that I know personally I can

see things that they do the same. When we had the staff from Mosaic come in to present I

thought the people first language would be a great training opportunity for the organization and

being able to use it in various cultures. There are members of my population that are employed at

the club.

There is no budget to support training and hiring practices besides what they already have

in place, but it isn’t specific to my population. There’s typically no extra money for training. It

seems to me that a lot of times human service organizations are more reactive than proactive

when it comes to certain things and it’s probably because of the funding for trainings. Our
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agency will try to get people to come in and do programing for free if possible. For example, an

organization came in recently trying to get paid to do programming for the teenage girls, it didn’t

get approved, but she did offer to do it for free and now she’s able to come in. We did just do a

community event that brought together many different cultures to provide information about the

club and local businesses. Outside people come in to provide programming for the youth, but

nothing for the staff that serve the youth.

I believe that the staff are as sensitive as they can be without proper training and without

knowing parent’s circumstances. A lot of their sensitivity is based on being a single parent is

such a norm now so they handle it in a way that its expected. I have not been privy to any

conversations where I’ve heard any stereotyping or inappropriate language used against this

population. I do think it would be helpful for staff to be aware of the population they are

handling specifically to help them interact with parents and youth appropriately. I am familiar

with one staff that co-parents and we recently had a conversation about the pros and cons to it.

Some of the stereotypes, inappropriate language or misconceptions that I’ve come across include

broken family, they are single by choice, all of them are on welfare, baby mamas, they can do it

on their own and that’s impossible it takes a village. When speaking with staff they want training

on cultural competency because they feel like it would help their everyday tasks and for them to

be aware to prevent frustration.

In my research of the effort, quality, effectiveness and efficiency of the agency programs

and services I gathered my information from a staff member who is also part of my population.

She couldn’t speak on behalf of the organization as a whole, but specifically to the club that she

works for. She couldn’t identify any efforts that are made to reach the single parents. Their club

has advocated for more things to be implemented to reach certain populations. They have no
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single parents included in the decision making even with majority of the population being single

parent households. She felt like there should be a survey for parents to see if there’s any

programing they would attend to support them in their parenting efforts or suggestions for

programming to help their kids handle home life.

As far as quality goes they don’t evaluate how programs are working out. To see the

quality of something you would first need to know the needs and then implement services around

that then evaluate. They do provide quality child care, but not to meet specific needs or cultures.

Parents don’t complain because they feel like they pay for what they get and they need the

service to be able to manage their households. I do believe other clubs besides this one functions

at a higher quality level, but the question why needs to be asked. Also, I think that parents are

entitled to say something, but sometimes people don’t like to cause trouble or they might not

know that every club isn’t the same.

So, the single parent population is higher at the club in comparison to the catchment area.

The needs aren’t being met and from different conversations that I’ve had it has been brought to

the attention of who would need to know, but nothing has been done about it. It was suggested

that there be tutoring, parenting classes and classes to help parents advocate for them and their

children. The thoughts are that its more about the numbers rather than meeting needs outside of

providing a safe place for kids to be while parents are working or going to school.

It was suggested that there needs to be a liaison for the state, schools and any other

resources to bridge the gap between the club and other agencies. Most of the connections that are

made are through word of mouth. I was told that the front desk staff have informed parents about

resources at the division of social services that they are unaware about instead of social services

informing parents about the Boys & Girls Club. The state does have the Boys & Girls Club as
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service providers, but people aren’t referred often. When parents are asked how did they know

about the club they say from someone else. Also, a lot of the children that attend this club have

moved here from out of state.

STANDARD 10 Human service professionals provide services without discrimination or

preference in regards to age, ethnicity, culture, race, ability, gender, language preference,

religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, nationality, or other historically oppressed

groups (Ethical Standards for HS Professionals, 2017). I feel that the club does a phenomenal job

with adhering to this standard because I can think of specific examples where they exceed the

expectation. One example is that there’s a young man in one of the summer fun groups and he is

diagnosed with autism so a lot of times he needs extra help and attention. The staff have created

such a helpful environment for him that all the other students just help him out wherever he falls

short and it’s a very nice sight to witness. Another example would be there’s another young man

that is trying to figure out his sexuality, but he displays a lot of behaviors we’ve factored in that’s

playing a part into why his behaviors are all over the place. We are still providing with services

like everyone else and working to help subside his behaviors.

STANDARD 11 Human service professionals are knowledgeable about their cultures and

communities within which they practice. They are aware of multiculturalism in society and its

impact on the community as well as individuals within the community. They respect the cultures

and beliefs of individuals and groups (Ethical Standards for HS Professionals, 2017). This

standard is applicable to our agency because most of the population we serve the staff is part of

that culture as well, so their knowledgeable about it by default. Even without formal training it

works because they are relatable, but if they were to switch to another club that’s where they

would run into conflicts
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STANDARD 36 Human service professionals hold a commitment to lifelong learning

and continually advance their knowledge and skills to serve clients more effectively (Ethical

Standards for HS Professionals, 2017). I can contest to this standard personally because I am a

lifelong learner in all different arenas and apply it where applicable. I read books, go to seminars,

take classes, attend social groups, teach classes and participate in conference calls all for my

personal growth. Wherever I learn something I’m always able to find use of it somewhere either

with school, work or my personal life if not store it for future use or share it with someone else. I

feel like you must continue to grow so you can stay relevant, be able to share during a

conversation, prevent stagnation, and add information to others.

I learned a lot researching single parents by way of asking questions, reading, and

observing. One of the most interesting things was how so many women are educated and living

in poverty in comparison to single parent men less educated making a higher salary. Single

parenting isn’t easy especially because so many things are stacked against you I couldn’t imagine

making the choice to be a single mom. I get being in a relationship with someone isn’t the easiest

thing, but from the struggles that single parents go threw I don’t see how choosing to be one

would even be an option. I did find it interesting how cultures are created because a group of

people exhibit the same behaviors. Every article that I read about single parents you would hear

the same types of things throughout the discussions.

I find it confusing how in this society we live in with all these cultural conversations and

discrimination lawsuits and activist for everything that learning about cultural competency isn’t

mandatory. I’m looking forward to studying my personal cultures, so I can be more aware of

when I’m interacting with others. I was surprised to find out that with the Boys & Girls Club

being such a large organization there aren’t any trainings on cultural competency, but hopefully
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there will be before something major happens. I believe some people are intentionally mean, but

for the most part we as humans are completely unaware of what we say and how we say it and

switching the order of words could make such a difference in our relaying of messages between

people. Cultural awareness would eliminate so much strife amongst people and open up the lines

of communication for everyone.
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DART First State - Routes and Schedules. (n.d.). Retrieved July 9, 2017, from

DuVernay, A. (Director). (2016). 13th [Motion picture]. USA: Netflix.

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Livingston, G. (2011). A tale of two fathers. Retrieved from Pew Social & Demographic Trends



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