The stress of both becoming and being a refugee can have long-lasting impacts on young children’s development – not only the experience of violence, but also the subsequent uncertainty of life in a camp or a new country. Evidence suggests that parents and caregivers can mitigate the negative effects and promote their children’s resilience – but the adults themselves often need support. We began our refugee initiative in 2016, to explore how our Parents+ work – integrating parent coaching into existing services – could apply to refugee populations, with an initial focus on Jordan, Lebanon and the Netherlands.
Our early partnerships include Plan International Jordan, with pilots on parent coaching in Azraq refugee camp and in Mother and Child health centres in the host community, and War Child Holland, testing a newly developed mental health programme for parents in Lebanon. We supported Sesame Workshop and the IRC to pilot a new partnership to develop educational multimedia content for refugee children, and are working on the transition to scale of IRC home visits for families into existing health, protection and education services. Late in 2017, Sesame Workshop and IRC won a USD100 million grant from the MacArthur Foundation to scale up home visits, centre-based childcare and educational content across Syria, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon, reaching a total of 9.4 million children in the next 5 years.
We also helped to set up the Moving Minds Alliance, with the aim of catalysing greater coverage, quality and financing for early childhood services for families affected by crisis. It works to coordinate, share learning among and build the capacity of agencies implementing early childhood services in crisis contexts. And it advocates to put the youngest refugees on the radar of major donors and policymakers, and incorporate them into humanitarian and integration policies and standards. Members of the alliance include Comic Relief, LEGO foundation, MacArthur Foundation, Open Society Foundations, Porticus and Vitol Foundation.