The focus of this paper is an outreach program in New York City, called Project Street Beat. It will describe the program and how it has incorporated the eight elements of cultural competence to achieve the Award of Excellence by the Health Resources and Services Administration U. S. Department of Health and Human Services Project Street Beat (ASS) is New York City’s Planned Parenthood HIVE program that is a street-based outreach program serving at risk women, men, and teens with WAITS who live and work the streets in the four regions of New York City (The Bronx,
Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens). Because of the increased number of people with HIVE/AIDS, there was a great need for access to care and prevention education to this population of clients with HIVE/AIDS (Health, 2001). The street staff of SSP travel in minivans and mobile medicals units by providing basic needs, clinical/medical services, prevention/education, and crisis management to those who are at most risk for HIVE/AIDS in the highest risk neighborhoods.
The clients they serve include drug users, homeless people, prostitutes, and others who re at risk with the goal to help move these clients from purely survival mode to a safer and healthier lifestyle (Planned Parenthood, 2013). SSP has defined the culture by “understanding the behaviors, vocabulary, and environment of New York City’s ‘street culture’ (Health, 2001) regardless of ethnicity or language, age, gender, and sexuality.
Because of the impoverished clients the project serves, SSP realizes the importance of the design and delivery of services in which “Sex is the currency in the drug economy of the street” and not a cash economy (Health, 2001). When understanding the various combined cultures such as drug addiction and prostitution the street staff of SSP gain perspective in the “needs and barriers of clients to prevent HIVE (Health 2001). By employing former clients of the program to serve as Peer Educators, the SSP demonstrates that they indeed value their clients’ cultural beliefs.
There is great value in employing Peer Educators as they can directly relate and can effectively communicate by using their first-hand experiences with sensitive issues such as sexuality, drug use, and personal violence (Health, 2001). Peer Educators are unique as they recognize the complexity in language interpretation by their own knowledge of the ‘street culture’ which is more than Just a shared language; it includes shared understanding and shared context. (Health, 2001).
The principle to facilitate learning between providers and communities is also found in the Peer Educator. First, by being involved as a client and going through the program, and then as a Peer Educator, they develop connections that can “inspire and motivate” the individuals at risk in the community. They provide the best of both worlds; as an outreach provider and as the community because they have lived in those communities they are now serving (Health, 2001).
Witt connections to a network to H V prevention services which include drug treatment programs, HIVE counseling and testing, SST screening, access to mental health providers, social services, and housing providers, the SSP has involved the community in defining and addressing service needs and incorporated collaboration with other agencies. This network of services uses an online computer system to rack referrals and success (Health, 2001) throughout all agencies.
Other collaborations within the community include neighborhood offices and community organizations that host weekly discussion groups which are available to all clients. These groups are organized around issues such as HIVE, substance abuse, and sex workers (Planned Parenthood, 2013). The principle of professionalisms staff hiring and training comes through the outreach, HIVE, and pre/post-test training of previous clients of the Project Street Beat as they become Peer Educators in the Peer Outreach Program who provide services ND also serve as members on the Consumer Advisory Board for the SSP (Health, 2001).
The Peer Educators are assigned a case manager or staff member for on-going support and mentoring to help them stay drug-free and for on the Job challenges. PBS has managed care contracts with 15 companies and has succeeded the principle of institutionalizing cultural competence with the development of education materials about their program. They have enabled women “to go directly to genealogical and family planning services” instead of “first going to their primary physician” (Health, 2001).
The Project Street Beat of Planned Parenthood of New York City has effectively recognized a need in a high risk community of substance and drug users, homeless people, and sex workers by developing a program to serve those affected by or at risk for HIVE. They offer programs and services such as HIVE testing, survival services including food and clothes, and medical services at no cost directly to those in need with mobile medical units and minivans at all times of the day or night. In this way, Project Street Beat helps clients move from day-to-day survival into a safer, healthier lifestyle.