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


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.

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

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Correspondence to Kihyun Kim.

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The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest.

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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.

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

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Yi, J., Kim, M.A., Kim, K. et al. Exploring Social Service Providers’ Perspectives on Barriers to Social Services for Early Adjustment of Immigrant Adolescents in South Korea. J Immigrant Minority Health 18, 1076–1084 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10903-016-0406-2

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  • Immigrant adolescents
  • Immigration
  • Barriers
  • Social service providers
  • South Korea