What is the Impact of Placement Type on Educational and Health Outcomes of Unaccompanied Refugee Minors? A Systematic Review of the Evidence.
O'Higgins A., Ott EM., Shea MW.
Record numbers of unaccompanied refugee minors have been arriving in high-income countries since 2015. Child welfare agencies and non-governmental organisations tasked with providing services have struggled to cope with demands on their services as a result. Despite this, there is little research on how best to meet their needs and in particular what services can mitigate the psychological difficulties they face. As a result, the evidence base for social services for refugee children remains very limited. This paper is a systematic review and meta-analysis of the evidence on the relationship between care placement type and the educational, mental health and physical health outcomes of unaccompanied refugee minors. We searched ten databases and identified 3877 citations which were screened for inclusion. Nine studies were included in the final review, with seven included in the meta-analysis. Eight studies examined the link between accommodation type and mental health outcomes, and two analysed the relationship between accommodation type and education. There were no studies looking at physical health outcomes. Included studies suggest that foster care and placements that are culturally sensitive may be associated with better mental health outcomes. This review highlights the paucity of research on the impact of services provided by child welfare agencies and non-governmental organisations.