The NCTSN invites you to join us in observing World Refugee Awareness Month and, on June 20th, World Refugee Awareness Day. In doing so, we focus on the millions of refugees who live around the globe, recognizing their plight as well as their valuable contributions to our communities.
Traumatized refugee children and their families must deal with their past traumatic experiences while integrating into a new and unfamiliar society. They must look for safety in an alien culture, and ask for help in a nonnative language. Children and their families who have experienced war-related trauma and disruption also suffer burdens associated with resettlement such as poverty, unemployment, stigmatization, and bias.
See below for a listing of helpful resources related to the needs of refugee children and families.
Children of War: A Video for Educators  
A powerful video presentation in which refugee youth tell their own stories about the experience of war. Recommended for educators and others who work with immigrant and refugee youth and children. Because the stories are deeply moving, the video is not recommended for students younger than high school age, and any presentation to youth should be handled with sensitivity and made only after the video has been previewed.
Children of War: A Resource Guide (PDF) 
A guide to help educators teaching students of all ages understand the experience of refugee youth and children. Best used in a group setting. Includes discussion questions for educators, suggests ways teachers and schools can help refugee students, and describes the traumatic stress that can result from wartime experiences and resettlement in a new culture.
Culture and Trauma Brief (vol 1, no 1): Promoting Culturally Competent Trauma-informed Practices  (2005) (PDF)
This three-page brief highlights the need for clinicians and policy makers to understand the links between trauma and culture. Cultural competence in trauma treatments and practices is conceptualized broadly, to encompass race, ethnicity, immigrant status, sexuality, urbanity and rurality, and disability.
Mental Health Interventions for Refugee Children in Resettlement: White Paper II  (2005) (PDF) 
Revisits and summarizes the research reported on in White Paper I on the mental health needs of refugee children. Discusses the need for a comprehensive mental health services approach for refugee children. Then focuses on exploring what a comprehensive mental health service model for refugees might look like, based on a review of literature for findings that support the value of specific approaches or techniques. Includes recommendations for next steps toward improving standards of mental health care for traumatized refugee children.
Review of Child and Adolescent Refugee Mental Health  (2003) (PDF) 
A white paper that broadens work done in previous reviews of refugee mental health by discussing the most recent empirical studies of pathology and services among refugees and by describing unique populations of child and adolescent refugees. These data, as well as treatments, are organized by phase of the refugee experience and contextualized in cultural and developmental frameworks. Adaptation and adjustment of refugees, with particular emphasis on coping and use of available resources, are also reviewed.
Refugee Services Toolkit  (2012) 
A web-based toolkit to help service providers foster the mental health and general well-being of refugee children and families. The toolkit will help providers understand the experience of refugee children and families, identify the needs associated with their mental health, and ensure that they are connected with the most appropriate available interventions.
NCTSN Culture and Trauma Speaker Series: Trauma & Mental Health in Child and Adolescent Refugees  (2007) 
Heidi Ellis and Ruth Campbell discuss the special challenges and opportunities presented in working with traumatized refugee youth.
Community Dialogue and Needs Assessment for Trauma Informed Systems of Care for Resettled African Refugee Youth in New Hampshire  (PDF)
This publication is a joint report of the New Hampshire Project for Adolescent Trauma Treatment, an NCTSN member and the Wellesley Centers for Women . The report documents the results of a project that engaged African refugee youth, community members, and service providers in identifying the steps needed to create trauma-informed systems of care for African refugee youth.