Focus groups with parental educators working with migrant and refugee populations showed that most of them have not encountered parents with left behind children. They have come across unaccompanied and separated minors, while, in most cases, migrants’ and refugees’ goal is family reunification. They described that the migrant and refugee population is in limbo, characterized by fluidity and transition as most aim to leave Greece and continue their journey further. Also, migrant and refugee parents frequently face broader difficulties, such as insecurity in living conditions and in the general context and they are mostly interested in covering their basic needs such as accommodation, legal support and access to health services and education. This is a challenge for parental educators as this population often lacks motivation to engage in the relationship.
With regard to the kind of training that would be useful for parental educators, participants mentioned that professionals need supervision, specific guidelines and interventions as well as intercultural awareness to work with this population. What they also mentioned was that professionals in the field need group animation (motivational and encouragement) skills. At the same time migrant and refugee parents require more information on the host country’s system, but also on child development so as to be able to detect early problems that their children might be facing.
Based on the aforementioned our suggestions for the training modules are the following:
- Intercultural awareness. This would help parental educators in goal-setting and in planning appropriate interventions when working with migrant and refugee parents. We believe intercultural awareness including specific guidelines and courses of action will help prevent frustration of professionals’ expectations and also protect them from burn-out.
- Group skills. It was highlighted by two participants that group motivational and encouragement skills are necessary for professionals in the field. We think that group work with migrant/refugee parents who share the same experiences will be the optimal means for intervention as this population may have difficulty trusting an unfamiliar context. Group skills would be helpful for both professionals and also for parents who may feel more supported and confident when approached in a group of people with a similar background and life experiences.