To address the urgent needs of Afghan evacuee families, Maine Immigrant and Refugee Services (MEIRS) is partnering with Boston College School of Social Work Research Program on Children and Adversity (RPCA) and the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) to support Strengthening Family Resilience Among Afghan Evacuee Families. This is part of a multi-phase collaboration with multiple stakeholders: MEIRS, RPCA, UIC, the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) and the United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI). For this pilot project, MEIRS will collaborate with the RPCA in Boston College to pilot a Family Strengthening Intervention for Refugees (FSI-R) intervention that has been recently adapted for Afghan refugees. The FSI-R is a prevention-focused intervention, whose development has been largely funded by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities and the National Institutes of Health (R01MD010613-06). FSI-R is a culturally adapted, home-visiting program designed to be delivered by members of respective refugee communities. The FSI-R seeks to improve child mental health and family functioning in refugee families who have often experienced trauma due to armed conflict, loss, and displacement, as well as ongoing stressors related to resettlement and acculturation. Developed using a Community-Based Participatory Research approach (CBPR), MEIRS has been engaged in all aspects of the FSI-R development, from design, to implementation and through evaluation.
MEIRS and the RPCA aims to strengthen ongoing study activities through pilot testing of the culturally adapted Afghan FSI-R program with up to 30 Afghan refugee families in the state of Maine. MEIRS will collaborate with RPCA to investigate the community and cultural strengths—sources of resilience—that help families and children do well despite challenges. Our team will use CBPR methods to generate Afghan community-driven hypotheses about the pathways leading from life events and stressors to emotional and behavioral outcomes in children and adolescents, with an emphasis on Afghan community and Afghan cultural resources that improve coping and resilience in children and families. Specifically, we aim to learn about and bolster through preventive measures those resources that support healthy parenting and mitigate the effects of past trauma, acculturative, and resettlement stressors. We also plan to have a community advisory boards (CABs) from local Afghan communities in the state of Maine, CABs will provide productive venues to explore critical issues to advance FSI-R development . The outcome from the pilot will be a culturally adapted FSI-R program for Afghan refugees that can be scaled across the country to other Afghan refugee communities