Addressing the Intergenerational Mental Health Needs of Refugee Families with Young Children
Brijan Fellows, Program Director, Taghi Modarressi Center for Infant Study, University of Maryland School of Medicine
Heather Kathrens, Refugee Mental Health Coordinator, Office of Immigrant Health, Maryland Department of Health
Maki Park, Senior Policy Analyst for Early Education and Care, National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy, MPI
Due to the nature of their forced migration experiences, refugees can face numerous sources of stress, including exposure to violence, separation from family members, loss of community supports, time spent in refugee camps or other precarious situations, and adjustment to a new and dramatically different culture. Such experiences, as well as the potential for intergenerational trauma, have critical implications for young children of refugees and their healthy socioemotional and cognitive development. However, mental health services and supports for refugees—when available—often overlook the unique needs of the youngest children of refugees and their parents.
Building off of prior research by MPI’s National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy that underscores the need for early childhood programs to attempt to mitigate the effects of trauma on refugee families with young children, experts on this webinar discuss state and local efforts being undertaken in Maryland to serve refugee families with young children through tailored, trauma-informed approaches that address their specific mental health needs. Speakers discuss state-level services available for newly arrived refugee families through the U.S refugee resettlement program, as well as ongoing barriers and other challenges related to these provisions. They also highlight innovative initiatives serving refugee and asylum-seeker mothers in Baltimore through a two-generation approach, along with efforts across Maryland to support early childhood providers in adopting a trauma-informed approach to serving refugee children.