Federal policies under the Trump administration were centered on reducing the overall number of refugees permitted to resettle in the United States while also banning residents of select refugee-sending nations. The administration then leveraged the emergence of COVID-19 to spur additional surges of discriminatory rhetoric against select immigrant subgroups. As a result, many refugee youths have been required to navigate historic immigration and resettlement hurdles that include cultural and language barriers, grief and loss, and acculturation stress, within an environment of encouraged fear and mistrust of their families and communities. In this stressful sociopolitical context, refugee youth are in need of effective prevention and intervention services to support their behavioral health and educational success. However, providers engaged with refugee youth often lack sufficient data to inform culturally tailored and nuanced services. Therefore, an urgent need exists to gain knowledge related to factors that promote or inhibit refugee well-being in the current and shifting sociopolitical context.
This symposium was developed with the goal of strengthening understanding of both individual and systemic risk and protective factors encountered by subgroups of refugee youth and youth with refugee parents. Quantitative, qualitative, and community-based participatory research strategies are employed to explore contributors to psychological well-being among Southeast Asian children of refugees, substance use in Karen refugee youth, and educational experiences of Congolese refugee youth. Implications will be discussed in regard to macro- and micro-level service provision that includes culturally tailored prevention and intervention strategies to strengthen behavioral health and educational outcomes of youth in refugee families.