Ongoing Project:

Parental Migration Factors Predict the Developmental Well-being of Refugee Children in Kindergarten

Researchers: Martin Guhn1, Anne Gadermann1, Monique Gagné1, Scott Emerson1
Human Early Learning Partnership, University of British Columbia1
refugee children, parents, refugee families, kindergarten, school entry, wellbeing, parental migration factors, quantitative methodology, Early Development Instrument, EDI data, British Columbia


Overview: This study investigates the relationship between parental migration factors—such as parental education and skill level at migration, years in Canada, language background, etc.—and kindergarten-aged children’s developmental wellbeing in five major domains—communication and general knowledge, language and cognitive development, emotional maturity, social competence, and physical health and wellbeing.

Objective: to develop an understanding of how parental migration factors predict the developmental wellbeing of refugee children in kindergarten.

Research Justification: Among refugee families, migration challenges faced by parents likely play a role in their child’s developmental wellbeing upon school entry. Developing an understanding of parental migration challenges and how they are associated with the developmental wellbeing of refugee children is a first step in understanding how we can support refugee families and ensure that refugee children start kindergarten on the right foot.


This study looks at refugee children who were born outside of Canada and arrived as refugees before the age of 5. The sample will include 637 children who completed the Early Developmental Instrument (EDI) when they were in kindergarten between 2009 and 2015. Data from the EDI on children’s developmental wellbeing will be linked to data from Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). 

The EDI is a 103-item checklist completed by kindergarten teachers that measures children’s development in five major domains: (1) Communication and general knowledge, (2) Language and cognitive development, (3) Emotional maturity, (4) Social competence, (5) Physical health and wellbeing. 

Parental migration factors will be sourced from migration records from the IRCC and will include factors such as parental education and skill level at migration, parental years in Canada, parental language background, refugee program (government versus privately sponsored), country of origin, transition countries, family poverty indicator, and neighbourhood income indicator. The research team will conduct a series of regression analyses to predict the five domains of developmental wellbeing based upon the parental migration factors, taking into account children’s age and sex.

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