Promoting Early Child Development in Refugee and Migrant Children from Disadvantaged Backgrounds: Developing evidence base and methodology for randomised trial

Project Details


Avon Primary Care Research Collaborative, NIHR Research Capability Funding

Layman's description

Early experiences have a powerful influence on children’s brain development and learning. Children from disadvantaged households have very high rates of language delay, and are at twice the risk of learning disability. Reducing these inequalities requires joined-up interventions that reduce risks and stresses, and increase resources, capability, and opportunities across generations. This is highly cost-effective, and has become a national priority for the Health Service and for research.
Children in refugee families may experience many disadvantages and challenges to their emotional wellbeing. Children of recent migrants appear at higher risk of developmental difficulties, but this has not been studied systematically. Little is known about how refugee families fit together their traditions for children’s upbringing with those of the host country, or what support they may find helpful.
Many Somalis have moved to the UK since 1991. Births in Bristol have increased eight-fold, and Somali children now represent 5% of school admissions. Somali children in Bristol are underachieving educationally and many are requiring Child Development/Disability services. Multiple competing demands on parents, combined with cultural differences, social isolation and perceptions of risk may limit children’s opportunities to play and interact.

This study
We plan to review existing research, and test these ideas in existing ‘cohort’ studies. Here in Bristol, we will develop a research partnership to design a package of support for families that could improve children’s early learning, and will then test (trial) whether this works.
We hope that what we learn will also help support other refugee and migrant communities.

Key findings

Improving early child development and wellbeing in refugee families NIHR Public Health Research Full Application submtted
Effective start/end date1/04/161/06/17


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