Child and youth well-being is a central part of our work!


What role does well-being play for organisations that represent the interests of young people and children and how could they benefit from longitudinal EuroCohort data? We asked these questions to Laura Gies and Ludwig Weigel from the ‘German Federal Youth Council’ as well as Birgit Beierling from the German Welfare Association ‘The PARITÄTISCHE’.

“Well-being of children and young people forms the foundation of our work”, says Birgit Beierling. She works at ‘The PARITÄTISCHE’. The aim of her work is to improve the living conditions of young people. A holistic view is very important because it concerns the whole living environment from health to parents and peer groups and more. For the German Federal Youth Council, well-being is also central to their work. Laura Gies is responsible for European and Ludwig Weigel for national youth policies. In their work, they promote and create better conditions for youth work. Both stress self-determination and self-organisation of young people and children to be essential for their well-being. Important in this context is that young people have the freedom, time, opportunity structures and places to organise themselves.

Child and youth policies in Germany and the EU

The people we spoke to believe certain aspects of childhood and youth are becoming more important in politics. Birgit Beierling emphasises that political initiatives for children and young people are often introduced for economic reasons - such as the integration of young people into the labour market or expanding child care. In her view, however, child and youth well-being should be the starting point for policy-making. More importantly, policies should focus on and address the freedom and possibilities young people need to develop in their own ways. This includes societal concessions and acceptance of detours and errors. According to Laura Gies and Ludwig Weigel, youth and child participation has also been strengthened in the EU and Germany. It is important that children and young people take part and can shape society. Nevertheless, they underline that participation often still serves as “alibi-participation”, but should instead expand further than the simple collection of opinions. It is central that participation has an impact on decision-making. Another important argument is to view child and youth policy in a cross-sectoral way. Often this policy field is not thought of broadly enough and its consideration is limited to the Federal Ministry of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth. 

ECDP and EuroCohort

The ‘German Federal Youth Council’ as well as ‘The PARITÄTISCHE’ support the ECDP project to develop a longitudinal survey of child and youth well-being: ‘EuroCohort’. In their view, cooperation between science and practice is very important. Science establishes a foundation for children and youth work and builds the basis for assessments. Longitudinal studies are great because individual pathways can be followed, says Birgit Beierling. In her view, it would be interesting to discuss the question of how children and young people gain the ability to develop a positive feeling about themselves. Laura Gies and Ludwig Weigel emphasise that Germany could profit from new perspectives of young people and child well-being in other countries. In addition, they seek for data on the specific period of youth and suggest starting the longitudinal study also with a youth cohort between the age of 12 and 18.


'The PARITÄTISCHE‘ (German Welfare Association)

‘The PARITÄTISCHE’ is one of the top six recognised independent welfare organisations in Germany. At federal level, about 10.000 independent organisations with more than 20.000 social services and institutions are allied to it. Together with other independent and public welfare associations, it works on organising the social welfare infrastructure. In its function as a welfare advocate, its particular concern is to represent the interest of the disadvantaged. Birgit Beierling is responsible for youth social work.

‘German Federal Youth Council’

The German Federal Youth Council represents 6 million young people in Germany. It consists of 29 youth organisations, 16 regional youth councils and six affiliated organisations. The member organisations operate in various fields such as workers’ youth federations or cultural, humanitarian or religiously oriented organisations. Laura Gies is responsible for European youth policies and Ludwig Weigel for national youth policies.