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Migration Policy Institute Podcasts

MPI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank dedicated to the study of the movement of people worldwide.

Young Children in Refugee Families and Early Childhood Programs: Ways to Mitigate the Effects of Trauma

Posted by migrationpolicy on August 31st, 2018

Young children in refugee families often endure significant direct or indirect trauma from their experiences during conflict, flight, or resettlement. Extensive research demonstrates that trauma can seriously impact the brain, cognitive, and socioemotional development of young children, potentially interfering with their learning capacity and ability to form healthy attachments. The issue of trauma has therefore gained increasing visibility across the early childhood field, yet relatively little research has explored the specific traumatic experiences and needs of young refugee children or strategies to address them.  

High-quality early childhood education and care (ECEC) programs can have enormous benefits, particularly for the children of immigrants and refugees. ECEC programs also present an important opportunity to provide trauma-informed services in a nonclinical setting, significantly expanding access to important socioemotional and mental health supports for this vulnerable population. However, Migration Policy Institute research shows that many U.S. ECEC programs and systems lack the capacity and knowledge to take a trauma-informed approach in their services.

Experts, on this webinar, discuss the effects of trauma on the development of young refugee children. They also highlight ways ECEC programs can address this trauma, including practical strategies that child-care providers in Canada are using to support the resiliency of refugee children and families. This webinar is the first of two discussions that MPI is hosting on the issue of trauma-informed care for young children of refugees in early childhood programs. The second webinar is on September 13.

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