This article is a summary of the research carried out in relation to the experiences of asylum-seeking and refugee families regarding access and participation in local childcare services. Focus groups and interviews were carried out with 16 refugee and asylum-seeking parents, five childcare practitioners, and two support and development staff in a small, mainly rural county, in the northwest of Ireland. Following a review of the literature in relation to social networks, social capital and social support, the research was designed to establish the perceptions of service users as well as service providers. The findings showed that levels of isolation experienced by both refugee and asylum-seeking families, largely because of current policy provisions, had a significant impact on their ability to develop informal supports networks in their host community. Families found that the formal and informal networks provided through childcare services were sources of valuable support. Both service users and staff identified a number of challenges in meeting various needs and in providing culturally responsive services. Challenges identified by service users came from their living experiences in the direct provision system, and social exclusion experienced by both asylum-seeking and refugee families, such as the cost of childcare and isolation. Communication and language barriers present as a significant challenge for both service users and service providers.
Source: Child Care in Practice Volume 16, Issue 2, 2010