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Practice Research

SOS Longitudinal Study

What does it mean for young people not to grow up in their own family? What do they experience growing up in an institution, and what, precisely, do they subsequently need to be able to lead a life according to their own conceptions?

Accompany Young People on Their Way to Independent Living

Within the framework of the SOS Longitudinal Study we regularly ask youths and young adults about their growing up in SOS Children’s Villages in Germany. We query their preparation for independent living and their transition into adult life. We also ask about different life spheres, like education and social relationships, health and well-being, burdens and life satisfaction and different aspects of the support they received. The research project also examine the further development of former SOS residents, so-called care leavers, including wishes for their future and important life events. The goal of the SOS Longitudinal Study is
  • to examine individual development processes and transitions over a longer time
  • and to continually improve our pedagogic practice on site in the homes based on this empirical basis.

Empowerment for a Self-determined Life

Becoming independent is a process involving diverse developmental tasks, upheavals and challenges. Aside from everyday practical capabilities, personal resources, like a fundamental feeling of confidence and trust in life and one’s own possibilities are required.
In the SOS Longitudinal Study, we also examine what, exactly, this constitutes and how it can be strengthened among young people during and after home care. The goal of alternative care in the youth welfare system is to enable young persons who must become independent considerably earlier than their peers and generally without familial support to live according to their own agendas.
To make this possible, a comprehensive set of aids and measures that provide both space and time for personality development in an institutional setting, as well as professional and trusting attendance during the sensitive phase of transition from out of home care to adulthood are required.

How many young people have been included in the SOS Longitudinal Study so far (since 2014)?

as care receivers 

as care receivers and care leavers

all persons

Implementation and Methods of the SOS Longitudinal Study

The SOS Longitudinal Study is a cooperative project between the Sociopedagogical Institute (Sozialpädagogisches Institut/SPI) and the SOS Children’s Village e.V. (registered association) with the Institute for Practical Research and Project Counselling (
Institut für Praxisforschung und Projektberatung/IPP
). The data collection in the SOS facilities is carried out by the IPP and the survey on issues of leaving care by the SPI. The SOS Longitudinal Study is contracted by the SOS Children’s Village e.V. 
The SOS Longitudinal Study is characterized by its broad field access, multiple perspectives and mixture of methods. 
  • Quantitative questionnaires are regularly filled out by care receivers twelve years and older, by the care givers and care leavers every two years. We apply a wide range of instruments and methods to cover the topics person, relationship and environment and investigated the influences and interactions among these different aspects. 
  • Qualitative interviews, each with a partial sample, are conducted in years between the questionnaires. In these detailed interviews, the young people are encouraged to consciously consider and reflect on their own development and life situation. 
Both quantitative and qualitative methods are applied to evaluate the data, to interrelate the individual results and to consider the research outcomes from different perspectives. Up to now there are hardly any longitudinal studies which combine different methods in the research on children and youth in Germany. The SOS Longitudinal Study contributes to filling this gap in research.

Empirically Founded Findings for Practice and Research

The SOS Longitudinal Study provides results on many topics and life areas, as well as different aspects of support during the development process of becoming independent and the transition from care to adulthood. We emphasize the continual further development of pedagogic practice in the SOS families and youth groups on site and thereby contribute to research on growing up in out of home care and the expert discussions and political consulting.

Selected Results from the SOS Longitudinal Study

Any Questions?

If you have questions concerning the SOS Longitudinal Study, please contact:
SOS-Kinderdorf e.V.
Ressort Pädagogik
Sozialpädagogisches Institut (SPI)
or please contact us directly:
Dr. Kristin Teuber (Head of Research)
Psychologist (Dipl.)
Dr. Wolfgang Sierwald (Research Associate)
Psychologist (Dipl.)
Teacher for Psychology and Mathematics 
Dr. Veronika Salzburger (Research Associate)
Social Worker (B.A.)
Sociologist (M.A.)