Giving Compass' Take:

• In this issue brief from Migration Policy Institute, authors Maki Park and Caitlin Kastiaficas discuss the effects of trauma on the children of migrants and necessary protective measures.

• The authors argue that boosting collaboration between ECEC providers, health services, and organizations that work with immigrants can effectively mitigate the effects of trauma on these children. Who is best positioned and most able to connect these groups?

• To learn about how we can apply behavioral insights to support immigrants, click here.

A child’s early years are a time of exceptional growth, and ones that can be profoundly affected by traumatic experiences. Research has firmly disproven the idea that infants and toddlers are “too young” to be affected by such experiences, leading to an increased awareness of the need for trauma-informed services for children. Early childhood education and care (ECEC) programs have the potential to play a central role in identifying and addressing the effects of trauma, with lifelong benefits.

Discussions of how to build a trauma-informed approach into ECEC programs, however, generally do not take into account the unique experiences of children of refugees and other immigrants. For example, children who are themselves refugees may have experienced persecution and flight, while U.S.-born children with refugee parents may be affected by such experiences secondhand. Other postmigration stressors, such as chronic exposure to discrimination or, among families with unauthorized immigrant members, fear of deportation can also affect young children’s socioemotional and cognitive development.

This issue brief explores the types of trauma that may affect young children in immigrant families, what the effects of those experiences may be, and what can be done to protect children against them. Among these opportunities: promoting the systematic use of mental health screening tools that are appropriate both for young children and for use across cultures, and boosting collaboration between ECEC providers, health services, and organizations that work with immigrants to ensure that young children and their families are referred to needed services in a timely fashion.

Read the full issue brief about the effects of trauma on children of immigrants and refugees by Maki Park and Caitlin Katsiaficas at Migration Policy Institute.