Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health

, Volume 18, Issue 5, pp 1076–1084 | Cite as

Exploring Social Service Providers’ Perspectives on Barriers to Social Services for Early Adjustment of Immigrant Adolescents in South Korea

  • Jaehee Yi
  • Min Ah Kim
  • Kihyun KimEmail author
  • Jun Sung Hong
Original Paper


Recently arrived immigrant adolescents experience difficulties in adjusting to school in South Korea. However, the existing social services do not meet their psychosocial needs. This study investigates the perspectives of social service providers about challenges in providing services for immigrant adolescents early in their adjustments. We conducted qualitative, in-depth interviews with 27 South Korean social service providers. We identified barriers to social services, categorized into three themes: (1) Initial Contact Phase; (2) Service Delivery Phase; and (3) Structural Challenges. We suggest interventions concerning work-related stress for the social service providers, family-level involvement, diversity training, and integrated and collaborative immigration services. An examination of social service providers’ challenges in working with immigrant adolescents is a necessary first step toward the development of programs and policies.


Immigrant adolescents Immigration Barriers Social service providers South Korea 



This study was funded by Samsung Research Fund, Sungkyunkwan University, 2013.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. The first, second and last author did not participate in the data collection.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jaehee Yi
    • 1
  • Min Ah Kim
    • 2
  • Kihyun Kim
    • 3
    Email author
  • Jun Sung Hong
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.College of Social WorkUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA
  2. 2.Department of Social WelfareMyongji UniversitySeoulRepublic of Korea
  3. 3.School of Social WelfareSungkyunkwan UniversitySeoulRepublic of Korea
  4. 4.School of Social WorkWayne State UniversityDetroitUSA
  5. 5.Humanities and Social Science Campus, Department of Social WelfareSungkyunkwan UniversitySeoulRepublic of Korea

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