The purpose of this paper is to develop and test an accessible and culturally appropriate social support intervention designed to meet the support needs and preferences identified by African refugee parents of young children.
The study was built on the research team’s preceding study assessing social support needs and intervention preferences of Sudanese and Zimbabwean refugee parents of young children. Face-to-face support groups led by peer and professional mentors were conducted bi-weekly over seven months. Qualitative data collection methods were employed through group and individual interviews.
In total, 85 refugee parents (48 Sudanese, 37 Zimbabwean; 47 male, 38 female) in two Canadian provinces participated in the social support intervention. Results demonstrated that this intervention increased participants’ social support by: providing information, enhancing spousal relationships, and expanding engagement with their ethnic community. This pilot intervention decreased refugee new parents’ loneliness and isolation, enhanced coping, improved their capacity to attain education and employment, and increased their parenting competence.
Peer mentors who were refugee parents of young children were key to facilitating the support intervention and to enhancing confidence of group members to raise their children in Canada. They acted as role models as they had faced similar challenges. Success of this intervention can also be attributed to its flexibility and participant-centered focus.
This is the first reported study to design and test the impacts of support interventions for African refugee parents of young children.
Stewart, M., Spitzer, D.L., Kushner, K.E., Shizha, E., Letourneau, N., Makwarimba, E., Dennis, C.-L., Kariwo, M., Makumbe, K. and Edey, J. (2018), "Supporting refugee parents of young children: “knowing you’re not alone”", International Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care, Vol. 14 No. 1, pp. 15-29. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJMHSC-04-2016-0018
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