Early Childhood Development and Psychosocial Support in Syria

Fatima Khaddour

Forced Migration Review, Issue 60, March 2019



This article describes an initiative of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) to address widespread mental health issues among IDPs in the Salamieh District in the eastern Hama Governorate of Syria, by integrating psychosocial support into their early childhood development programming. The Me and My Child in Crisis program (MMIC), targeting both IDPs and host communities, incorporated non-formal friendly spaces and support to help children develop coping mechanisms, as well as activities to help parents understand their child’s psychological, social, cognitive, motor and linguistic development. With a view to the project’s long-term sustainability, implementation was eventually shifted to school-based parent-teacher associations. Subsequently, as the intensity of armed conflict decreased during 2018, the project was transformed into the Reading with Children (RWC) program, which incorporated topics of psychosocial support for parents and children. Several challenges were encountered during implementation including weak attendance and limited participation of fathers. The author suggests that the introduction of incentives and the use of mobile technology might help to address these challenges.