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Supporting refugee parents of young children: “knowing you’re not alone”

Miriam Stewart (Faculty of Nursing, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada)
Denise L. Spitzer (Institute of Feminist and Gender Studies, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada)
Kaysi E. Kushner (Faculty of Nursing, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada)
Edward Shizha (Tshepo Institute for the Study of Contemporary Africa, Wilfrid Laurier University, Brantford, Canada; and is at the Department of Society, Culture, & Environment, Wilfrid Laurier University, Brantford, Canada)
Nicole Letourneau (Cumming School of Medicine (Pediatrics and Psychiatry), Faculty of Nursing, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada)
Edward Makwarimba (Alberta Health Services, Edmonton, Canada)
Cindy-Lee Dennis (Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada)
Michael Kariwo (Faculty of Nursing, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada)
Knox Makumbe (Faculty of Nursing, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada)
Jocelyn Edey (Faculty of Nursing, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada)

International Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care

ISSN: 1747-9894

Article publication date: 31 October 2017

Issue publication date: 26 February 2018

Abstract

Purpose

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.

Design/methodology/approach

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.

Findings

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.

Practical implications

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.

Originality/value

This is the first reported study to design and test the impacts of support interventions for African refugee parents of young children.

Keywords

Citation

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

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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