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Adelante Kansas City

Adelante Kansas City is an innovative culture and language coaching program for mental and behavioral health care providers. The name Adelante, a Spanish word meaning “forward,” “ahead,” or “onward,” captures the essence of the program—to advance the mental health and wellbeing of the Spanish-speaking, limited English proficiency population in the Kansas City metropolitan area through the safe provision of high-quality services.

The Adelante program increases access to mental and behavioral health care by reducing culture and language barriers for Spanish-speaking, limited English proficient individuals. Adelante is a work-based, learner-centered training model. The program offers three essential supports to bilingual care providers/learners:

  1. A safety net to ensure accurate communication during visits
  2. Improvement of cultural awareness and language skills
  3. Assessment of language proficiency and communication effectiveness

The program also helps agencies maximize cultural responsiveness through enhancements to protocols and environment.

1-on-1 culture and language coaching

A care provider may be able to speak and understand Spanish; however, clear communication requires a unique vocabulary and understanding of cultural influences. Such communication is not a part of standardized language learning, and its absence can lead to a significant gap in understanding, especially in mental and behavioral health care. Culture and language coaches (CLCs) from Adelante partner with providers to help them overcome these barriers with a customized, 1-on-1 approach to cultural and linguistic learning. CLCs support providers of multiple types, including therapists, social workers, care coordinators and case managers. These individuals begin the program with an intermediate or advanced level of language competency and a commitment to building stronger relationships with their clients/patients.

Culture and language coaches serve as “personal trainers” for providers and other staff during their regular workday, tailoring instruction to each person’s cultural and linguistic needs. With permission from the patient or client, the CLC works side-by-side with a provider during visits to assess clinically specific language and cultural understanding. The CLC will step in and clarify when there is incomplete communication or misunderstanding between the provider and their patient or client. After the visit, specific areas of improvement related to the clinical conversation are identified by the provider and CLC.

In addition to appointment-specific coaching, the CLCs create supports that give providers numerous opportunities to practice Spanish language and behavioral health care-specific skills outside of client interactions. These supports include simulations based on authentic provider/client situations, access to professional journals and articles written in Spanish, and provider-driven discussions and practice with others in the program. CLCs are available to answer questions and provide feedback between formalized sessions.

Organizational coaching

In addition to 1-on-1 coaching of providers, Adelante CLCs also help partner organizations identify gaps in caring for their Spanish-speaking clients. CLCs provide guidance on organizational policies and procedures (for example, hiring and assessment of bilingual staff) and ensure that counseling approaches, print materials and signage are presented in a culturally suitable way at the appropriate literacy level for the target audience.

Adelante also offers critical support for agencies serving Limited English Proficient (LEP) individuals and families during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our region’s stay-at-home orders forced many health care agencies, including Children’s Mercy, to swiftly transition to more use of telehealth to protect the health of patients, families and staff. This rapid switch from in-person care to virtual care created numerous challenges for both agencies and clients, including the need for internet capabilities, tablets in the home, and a steep learning curve on how to use the technology. Adelante staff have assumed key roles in supporting partner agency staff as they adapt to this new service delivery platform.