Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Early Childhood Education and Care

First Advisor

Angi Stone-MacDonald

Second Advisor

Serra Acar

Third Advisor

Allison Taylor


The war in Syria has created the world’s largest refugee and displacement crisis and become the biggest humanitarian emergency of our time. Over 3.6 million Syrian refugees live under temporary protection in Turkey, and half of them are children. Most Syrian refugees have experienced significant trauma and mental health problems due to armed conflict and forced displacement from home. Young children of Syrian families are more vulnerable and have experienced higher rates of trauma than adults. They need mental, psychological, and emotional assistance along with language and financial support. To support the well-being and mental health of Syrian refugee children with trauma experiences, a number of early education strategies can be incorporated through the trauma-informed care (TIC) approach in Turkish preschools. The primary goals of this study are to better understand the capacity of public preschool services in identifying, responding to, and mitigating war-related trauma among young Syrian refugee children. Accordingly, this study uses an explanatory sequential mixed method research design, including a teacher questionnaire, focus groups with preschool teachers and school counselors, and document analysis to explore preschool teachers' and school counselors’ attitudes, skills, and knowledge about trauma, trauma-informed care, and practices in Turkish public preschools. Participants included 57 preschool teachers and 28 school counselors. The findings showed that preschool services in Turkey are not able to provide adequate psychosocial support to Syrian refugee children. TIC is not known among preschool teachers and school counselors. Preschool teachers and school counselors do not feel adequately/well prepared to teach Syrian refugee children who are exposed to trauma in their classrooms. In addition, the majority of participants focused on the lack of preservice training and suggested that preschool teacher education programs should include more courses related to trauma, trauma effects on child development, and well-being in migrant and refugee children. Preschool teachers and school counselors also reported that they do not work collaboratively in the school to identify, mitigate, and prevent trauma in Syrian refugee children. Lastly, the National Preschool Program does not include any topic or words related to trauma, trauma-informed care, strategies, and teaching practices and objectives. This study contributed to the preschool policies, curriculum, and educators in many ways. Firstly, it presented the capacity and resources of Turkish public preschool services in providing trauma-informed care for young Syrian refugee children. It helped to identify the lack and challenges in trauma-informed policies and practices in early education. This study also provided an understanding of the experiences, skills, and background of preschool teachers and school counselors relating to trauma-informed practices and intervention. It provided a foundation for future research and policies about how to integrate trauma-informed care (TIC) into the Turkish preschool services and national curriculum.


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