New international community of researchers working to improve child wellbeing

The University of Helsinki is taking part in COORDINATE, a project aimed at improving access to longitudinal survey data on child wellbeing and giving children a voice in research that concerns them.

The University of Helsinki is one of the 19 partners in an European project that will transform young people’s chances in life. The project is called COORDINATE: Cohort Community Research and Development Infrastructure Network for Access Throughout Europe.

Led by Professor Gary Pollock of Manchester Metropolitan University’s Policy Evaluation and Research Unit and Associate Professor Jennifer Symonds of the Geary Institute at University College Dublin, COORDINATE has been awarded €5 million in funding by the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme to undertake a range of activities that will build the capacity and infrastructure to collect and use longitudinal survey data to improve child wellbeing across Europe.

“The seismic effects of the Covid-19 crisis on young people’s education and mental wellbeing underline the importance of understanding how policy decisions made today affect them in the years to come. In the UK, we have witnessed huge changes to their daily lives, from home-schooling to changes to exams and ongoing issues over the extension of free school meals,” says Professor Pollock.  

How are first-year pupils and families with babies doing?

The University of Helsinki will establish a steering group composed of young people for the project to make their voice heard, in addition to which the University will contribute to the collection of a pilot dataset pertaining to child wellbeing. The pilot data focuses on newborns and the wellbeing of their parents, as well as that of children starting school.

“It’s wonderful to have this project finally come to fruition, since this has been a great dream of mine for years. There is a great need for this unique project. This is the first-ever Europe-wide longitudinal study on children's wellbeing. The data will make it possible to provide the best possible information on child wellbeing for political decision-making. If nothing else before, the pandemic has demonstrated the vital importance of such knowledge,” says Professor of Education and psychologist Katariina Salmela-Aro, who heads the project in Finland.

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