How Schools Can Partner with Afghan Refugee Families

Afghan girl arriving at Dulles airport

The following resources provide recommendations on how schools can effectively partner with families who will be arriving from Afghanistan in the coming months. It also shares lessons learned from schools already partnering with this community.

Image: Afghan refugees arrive at Dulles Airport in Virginia/Reuters

Topics on This Resource Page

This resource collection includes the following sections:

Afghan Arrivals: What Schools Need to Know

Over the coming months  tens of thousands of Afghan neighbors will begin arriving in our schools and communities, as a result of the recent political developments in Afghanistan. Many of the newcomers have served as interpreters, translators, educators, and additional support staff for U.S. military operations.  Additionally, many Afghan families are seeking asylum. In addition, some children are arriving alone, without family members.

Where will Afghan families be resettled?

The U.S. State Department will recommend a list of cities for Afghans who are looking to resettle based on different factors. According to the State Department, families may allow a resettlement agency to match them to a location based on criteria such as:

  • Cost of living
  • Housing availability
  • Employment opportunities
  • Access to resettlement support services
  • Access to additional resettled communities for support

It's important to note that many refugee resettlement services are still increasing capacity after refugee services were cut in prior years.

Educators who are working with new Afghan arrivals should be sure to contact local resettlement agencies and organizations to further strengthen support around issues such as schooling, housing, medical care, employment, and social-emotional support. It's also important to understand the different kinds of support Afghan families may receive and how long that support will last; in some cases, there are timelines or deadlines that impact what resources families can access. (See more in the Migration Policy Institute report below.)

For additional recommendations for partnering with Afghan families during this transition, please see these tips from the Austin Independent School District, as well as our tips for supporting refugee students.

Learn more about the Afghans who are coming from the following stories and reports:

Featured Resources: Partnering with Afghan Communities

Welcoming Afghan Families: Lessons Learned from Austin

Learn how Austin ISD, the public school district in Austin, TX, is currently partnering with the Afghan community and preparing to welcome the additional Afghan families who will be arriving in their schools in coming months.

Webinar: Afghan Refugee Students & Families Talk About Educational Experiences of Afghans

This webinar from Immigrant Connections includes a conversation with students and parents who have immigrated from Afghanistan, as well as researchers who are studying the educational experiences of Afghan students. The webinar is free and participants are invited to make a small donation to pay panelists for their time.

See more information in Immigrant Connections' Resources to Orient Afghans to K-12 Education in the U.S.

Books for Children and Teens: Afghan Voices

The following books bring a wide range of Afghan stories and voices to life. While they present a variety of themes and settings, they capture the resilience, spirit, and warmth of the Afghan people.

These books can be used to support school and community discussions of current events related to Afghanistan.

Updates and Recommended Resources

Personal stories

How schools can support Afghan students

Updates and explainers

Classroom resources

What you can do

How to partner with refugee students and families

Resources for Families

Tip sheets in in Pashto

Some of our tip sheets are available in Pashto, one of the languages spoke in Afghanistan.

Help Your Child Learn to Read

These literacy tips are available in a tip sheet and social media graphics.

How to Support Your Child's Social-Emotional Health

These tips for families highlight ideas for supporting students' well-being.