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The main goal of the project “Youth welfare trajectories: learning form experience (German translation: Jugendhilfeverläufe: Aus Erfahrung lernen [JAEL])” (2016-2024) is to examine the various developmental pathways of children, adolescents and emerging adults in residential (youth) care. Between 2007 and 2012, 592 children, adolescents and young adults from 64 social-educational institutions from the German-speaking, French-speaking, and Italian speaking part of Switzerland were assessed within the “Swiss study for clarification and goal-attainment in youth welfare and juvenile justice institutions (German translation: Modellversuch Abklärung und Zielerreichung in stationären Massnahmen [MAZ.])”. Results showed high levels of psychosocial problems, including psychopathology, adverse childhood experiences and offending behaviour in this sample of juveniles in residential care.

In recent years, we reassessed these now young adults again about their current life situation. The study design makes it possible to describe the long-term developmental pathways of their transition from adolescents into young adulthood as well as to gain insight into how these young adults retrospectively experienced their out-of-home placement.

The findings of JAEL are now processed in an E-Learning Program. This program should enable practitioners to gain more self-confidence in dealing with risk and protection factors in order to attain a positive development of children, adolescents and young adults in residential care. The team of child and adolescent psychiatry of the University Hospital Ulm will externally evaluate this E-Learning Program. The Swiss Federal Office of Justice supports the project.

In addition to and based on JAEL, two in-depth studies have been developed and successfully implemented in recent years. These studies are independently financed projects linked to JAEL. These concern the neurophysiological study “Long-term Outcome of Childhood Adversities and Offending Behaviour (LOCO)” and the intergenerational “JAEL-Kids” study.