The National CLAS Standards were developed by the Office of Minority Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Office of Minority Health works to improve the health of racial and ethnic minority populations through the development of health policies and programs that will help eliminate health disparities.
CLAS should be employed by all members of an organization, regardless of size, at every point of contact. We know that an all-size-fits-all approach is not the best approach to health care and public health and implementing CLAS helps health and human services professionals treat individuals with respect and be mindful of their culture and language.
Culturally and linguistically appropriate services are increasingly recognized as effective in improving the quality of care and services. CLAS helps public health and health care professionals build rapport and a trusting relationship with individuals and groups so that they can better understand and address their needs.
There are many reasons to promote culturally and linguistically appropriate services at your organization.
A Story of Why CLAS is Important
"It is about 18 year old Willie Ramirez who became ill while out with friends and was taken to the hospital. Due to no trained interpreter on staff at this hospital a language barrier occurred. One issue mentioned in the article regarding the word 'Intoxicado' And 'Intoxicated': Similar In Sound, Very Different In Meaning between cultures. Due to the language barrier and no interpreter to translate between Willie's family and the medical staff, left Willie quadriplegic and the family filing a law suit settlement awarding Willie $71 million, assuming he lives to the age of 74."
View the full article.
The Office of Health Equity convenes a monthly taskforce to discuss items related to the National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS). The OHE oversaw the creation of a
CLAS Toolkit for both internal and external use. Additionally, the OHE supports incorporating CLAS contract language in all Commonwealth documents with vendors.
Below are a number of helpful resources to guide you efforts towards cultural and linguistic inclusivity and outreach:
Office of Health Equity Latino Advisory Committee
The OHE LAC is a statewide group for influential leaders with specific knowledge and experience with the Latino Community in Pennsylvania to help guide the OHE on matters influencing this growing population.
Advisory Committee Goals:
- Reduce health disparities in the Latino population.
- Identify and disseminate "best practices" aimed at reducing health disparities- local, statewide, or national initiatives that have been successful in improving health for Latinos.
- Identify and evaluate the capacity of local communities to address Latino health issues.
- Develop stakeholder consensus on the key health problems facing the Latino community identifying SDOH opportunities and utilize tools to begin addressing these issues:
- These issues can be things from specific health problems to general SDOH like access to public/private healthcare services, mental health programs, occupational health issues, etc.
- Focus specifically on issues pertaining to Latino community and migrant health centers, language barriers, and discrimination.
- Advocate for policies and practices that effectively reach PA's Latino communities.
- Reach out to existing community-based organizations, committees, and state agencies (e.g. GACLA) pertaining to Latino health inequalities to exchange ideas and best-practices.
For more information on CLAS or the Latino Advisory Committee, contact Judelissa Rosario at