IRC Social and Emotional Learning Competencies

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) Social and Emotional Learning Competencies outline a framework for social and emotional learning (SEL) in conflict and crisis-affected settings. The IRC is an international non-governmental organization that provides support to people facing humanitarian crises around the world, and IRC's SEL framework has been developed based on evidence and needs identified in these contexts. The framework focuses on five SEL competencies critical to creating secure, caring, and predictable environments in which children and adolescents can learn, be protected, and develop skills they will need to cope with the negative effects of their lived experiences. It also includes mindfulness as a cross-cutting approach within the framework, with the purpose of helping children reduce feelings of anxiety and stress, focus their attention, and learn to persevere through difficulties.

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IRC Social and Emotional…brain buildingemotion regulationpositive social skillsconflict resolution skillsperseverancemindfulness

Breakdown by Domain

Domain Key


Key Features

Context & Culture

  • The framework is intentionally designed for use in conflict and crisis settings and cites evidence linking SEL to positive outcomes for children experiencing toxic stress
  • Outlines SEL facilitation practices that take into account the identity, abilities, and experience of each child to ensure sensitivity when building SEL skills
  • Recommends that adaptations be made to training and curricular materials associated with the framework to ensure content is contextually and culturally relevant for facilitators and children
  • Emphasizes the importance of parent and community involvement and engagement in SEL efforts

Developmental Perspective

  • The framework has been adapted for other age groups and a Youth SEL Framework is currently in the late stages of development and testing
  • Support materials list the key characteristics and developmental needs of three age groups: ages 6-8, 9-11, and 12-15
  • No learning progression provided

Associated Outcomes

  • Cites evidence indicating that SEL mitigates the negative effects of adversity, supports healthy brain development, and is linked to positive outcomes such as improved academic performance, prosocial skills, and positive self-image as well as decreased aggression, emotional distress, and conduct problems

Available Resources

Support Materials

  • Handouts and program toolkits available online provide background information on SEL and the competencies framework
  • Informational and guidance videos on SEL, Healing Classroom principles, and mindfulness activities can be found on the IRC Healing Classrooms YouTube channel

Programs & Strategies

  • Lists evidence-based principles for effective SEL instruction in support materials (e.g., explicit instruction, infusion across academic areas, etc.)
  • The Safe Healing and Learning Spaces (SHLS) Toolkit includes training, implementation, and curricular materials for a 9-month SEL intervention designed to teach the IRC SEL competencies in both rural and urban settings, including implementation and contextualization guidance, 50+ SEL lesson plans/activity guides, and 50+ SEL games
  • Healing Classrooms is a program designed to help teachers create and maintain healing learning spaces that foster SEL skills and help children recover, grow, and develop, which includes a distance education course, teacher/teacher educator guide, and a compendium of resources used in IRC education programs
  • Offers parent and caregiver programs with integrated SEL, including Families Make a Difference and Reach Up and Learn
  • Offers life skills curricula with integrated SEL, including Girlshine and Learn 2 Earn

Measurement Tools

  • The Social Emotional Response and Information Scenarios (SERAIS) is a scenario-based program impact assessment tool that measures key SEL skills among children aged 6-18 in fragile, conflict-affected settings that was developed through a joint research effort between IRC and NYU Global TIES for Children

Key Publications

*International Rescue Committee. (2016). Social emotional learning intervention: Trainer's manual. Retrieved from:

  • International Rescue Committee. (n.d.). IRC's approach to social-emotional learning.
  • IRC website:

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