Published on 01/03/2022 9:40 am

On local matters this week, we speak about children, those who are the most vulnerable. Who don’t grow up in a normal family, but in residential child care communities, in children’s homes. Pascale Engel de Abreu is Associate Professor in multilingual cognitive development at the University of Luxembourg and recently started a research project on the mental well-being of these children.

“During the covid-19 pandemic, there has been a number of concerns in relation to children’s mental health. Children in alternative care are often hidden from public view. It’s not spoken about them very often.” While media, researchers and social associations worried about schoolchildren and about elderly people living in residential communities during the pandemic, the children in alternative care have remained less visible.

Around 1.300 children in Luxembourg grow up outside of their families. They grow up in difficult circumstances and so far, there was no research in Luxembourg on how the pandemic affected their lives. Often, the parents are violent or not able to raise a child. “We are quite certain that these children have lived through a lot of trauma in their lives and that has an affect on their development”, explains Pascale Engel de Abreu. For her study, she and her fellow researchers will ask all the concerned children questions on their life circumstances and well-being via a questionnaire.

Pascale Engel hopes that these results can provide information on what needs to be tackled in policy. “We do not have any scientific study that explored the mental health of children in placement. If we have this data-gap, this does hamper the development of child-welfare policies because obviously to be able to make evidence-based policy, you need evidence first.”


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Local Matters: Interview Pascale Engel