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Immigrant and Refugee Children

According to the 2000 Census, 1 of every 5 children in the United States is a child of immigrants. Many things about the immigrant experience are stressful for children: They may be separated from family for extended periods of time, some children come from rural or farming communities and are ill-equipped to cope with cities; others come from refugee camps, after witnessing wartime atrocities or personal or family violence. Many suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Caring Across Communities – A new model for serving immigrant and refugee children
In 2006 the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation launched an initiative to help meet the mental health needs of immigrant children and youth. Building on strong community-school partnerships, the 15 sites funded through Caring Across Communities: Addressing the Mental Health Needs of Diverse Children and Youth, are helping children and their families make their way in a new country. Individual project descriptions, conference reports, and presentations convey the lessons learned.

Tools and documents to help practitioners, teachers, and others work with children of immigrants and refugees
Caring for these children frequently requires new tools and new skills. An issue brief summarizes what is known about best practice in screening and assessing children from other cultures for emotional and behavioral problems. The challenges of mental health interpretation are described and information presented on opportunities to learn mental health interpretation skills.

Additional Resources

University studies, government reports, and descriptions of field experiences can assist schools, health and mental health agencies, as well as public officials, more effectively and efficiently address the needs of immigrant and refugee children and youth.