Scientific article
Published by / Citation
El-Khani, A., Haar, K., Stojanovic, M., & Maalouf, W. (2021). Assessing the Feasibility of Providing a Family Skills Intervention,“Strong Families”, for Refugee Families Residing in Reception Centers in Serbia. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18(9), 4530.
stronger families

Assessing the Feasibility of Providing a Family Skills Intervention, “Strong Families”, for Refugee Families Residing in Reception Centers in Serbia


War exposure and forced displacement threaten the wellbeing of caregivers and their children, leaving them at risk of negative outcomes, such as elevated rates of anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. The importance of engaged, responsive and stable parenting for positive child wellbeing has been documented across diverse cultural and economic backgrounds. Despite the higher need for caregivers to be nurturing in challenging settings, they struggle to provide adequate support for their children due to lack of resources or their inability to deal with their own emotional challenges. A feasibility study was conducted of a new, open-access and light-touch family skills intervention, Strong Families (for families in humanitarian and challenged settings) on refugee families residing in Reception Centers in Serbia. Questionnaires and interviews were completed by participating caregivers and facilitators. Qualitative results indicated that the intervention was feasible to run in this humanitarian context, that caregivers viewed the intervention as culturally acceptable and complemented the quantitative results that showed promise for enhancing child behaviour and family functioning tested indicators. Despite being a light intervention, Strong Families indicated improvement in child mental health, parenting practices and parent and family adjustment skills. Prioritizing family mental health and functioning as a primary need that parallels that of accessing physical medical care, sanitation and clean water must be the definitive next step in humanitarian aid.

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