The school anticipates that some refugee children will need emotional support, and Swiezak said she hoped to find Ukrainian- or Russian-speaking psychotherapists to help them. But on my recent visit there, the scene seemed idyllic. In a row of sunlit classrooms, Ukrainian children played with new friends.
But good will cannot necessarily overcome institutional limitations. The caps on preschool class sizes, for instance, were intended to ensure that children had adequate supervision. Expanding them further could jeopardize children’s education, and perhaps their safety.
And the new spots created for Ukrainian children are filling up. More than half of the new spaces at the preschool are already taken, Swiezak said. New families arrive in town every day.
If the government expands support for Ukrainian mothers without making similar efforts to meet Polish women’s unmet needs, there is a risk of political backlash.
“Some people will have understanding for the fact that these people have suffered so much, and want to help them get safe footing in the Polish territory,” Iga Magda, a labor economist at the SGH Warsaw School of Economics, said. “But others will not care as much.”
“The last thing we need is a conflict here,” Magda told me. “This is what Putin wants the most, right?”
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