• May 2010
  • Vol. 11, No. 4

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Schools and Refugee Child Welfare

School personnel may need specific guidance when addressing child welfare and family issues with immigrant and refugee families. A new toolkit from Bridging Refugee Youth and Children's Services (BRYCS), Refugee Child Welfare: Guidance for Schools, the third in a series of toolkits for the schools, was created to help school staff address these concerns.

In all States, teachers and school staff are mandated reporters and must report suspected child maltreatment to child welfare authorities. Although this mandated reporter responsibility should make children safer, it may also make refugee families fearful of teachers. Furthermore, some apparent signs of neglect or abuse may be the result of traditional cultural practices, learned behaviors from the refugee experience, or the need for education about U.S. practices. BRYCS created this resource to help teachers distinguish resettlement challenges and cultural differences from child maltreatment and to consider resources for refugee families facing such challenges.

Some specific challenges that refugee parents are likely to face include the following:

  • Lack of knowledge about typical U.S. parenting norms and behaviors
  • Limited community supports and limited knowledge of local resources
  • Balancing resettlement challenges with parenting responsibilities
  • Distant or renewed family relationships
  • Intergenerational tension

The toolkit provides information on steps that teachers and school personnel can take to help strengthen refugee families and connect these families to supportive community services.

BRYCS is a project of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops/Migration and Refugee Services and is supported by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Refugee Resettlement. The toolkit is available on the BRYCS website:

www.brycs.org/documents/upload/ChildWelfare-FAQ.pdf (347 KB)

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