Little attention has been paid to the needs of refugee children in Canada. The last decade has seen increasing numbers of Roma refugees settling in southern Ontario, and this qualitative study explored the needs of Roma refugee children in the education, health and social services sectors. We interviewed or conducted focus groups with 24 Roma and 62 service providers from those sectors. Participants indicated that Roma children had high needs for service in all these sectors, but that families were often unable or unwilling to access services effectively. Specifically, children needed schooling for language acquisition and for the development of social relationships; absenteeism was a concern. Income assistance was needed by Roma and other newly-arriving families. Continuity and quality of health care was an issue. In all sectors, barriers were related to language, culture and the unique history of the Roma people. This paper contextualizes study findings by briefly summarizing Roma historical and current experience in Europe; this experience is critical to an understanding of the difficulties that Roma encounter with institutional systems.
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