The experience of refugee parents can vary widely. Some may have had stable homes and employment until recent events in their countries forced them to flee. Others may have been in prolonged refugee situations for many years. They have resettled in a new country for the sake of their children, seeking safety security and opportunity. They share in common with Canadian parents a hope for a better life for their children; and a challenge of balancing work and family while providing for essential needs.
These individual experiences of refugee families, as well as the characteristics and infrastructure of the receiving communities affect how well refugee children adapt to their new schools. Schools can serve as central sites for family supports. By enriching current on-site activities such as clubs, school celebrations, and literacy activities, schools can be vital and protective agents for students and families. It is also beneficial to work collaboratively with service providers and community agencies that support local families, in particular services that provide concrete supports in times of need, and those that help families build social connections.
Some areas for enhanced supports include:
- Schools serving as an access point for referrals for language training, employment upgrading and other services
- Before and after school care services located in or near school
- After school clubs and recreational events for students
- Social events for families such as pot-luck meals and games and sports days
- Peer tutoring and peer mentoring opportunities
- Parent education classes
- On-site food banks and clothes donations
- Family or home literacy projects or programs
- Opportunities for parents to share information about their language and culture
For models of family literacy projects, see Family Literacy Projects.
For inventories of community services in Alberta, see Community Agencies.