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The impact of resettlement on Karen refugee family relationships: A qualitative exploration

Child & Family Social Work

Published online on


Refugee resettlement policy in the United States prioritizes family reunification, meaning, resettling families that may have been separated for years are reuniting and reestablishing connections while integrating into a new culture. Scholarship on the impact of resettlement and integration has focused primarily on the individual level, despite evidence that strong family relationships are a documented protective factor for refugee families. This paper aims to explore the impact of resettlement on Karen refugee families' relationships. Data from 6 focus groups with 36 Karen refugee community members and interviews with 8 key stakeholders suggests that refugee families are at risk of a constellation of relational issues that are exacerbated by the stress of resettlement. Data also indicates that families have indigenous strategies for solving problems that could be harnessed to develop culturally relevant family support services.