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Children in Focus: Long-Term Study Enters Second Phase

The school closures during the pandemic make it clear: Improving education opportunities for socially disadvantaged children is becoming increasingly important. A long-term study wants to research the advantages of early support of children for a better start to school life.

The Bremen Initiative to Foster Early Childhood Development (BRISE) focusses on the development of children in Bremen. As part of a long-term study, the initiative is accompanying families from pregnancy to the first year of primary school. Up to 600 families can take part in the study.

Study at the University of Bremen Financed with 5.3 Million Euros for Four Years

In 2016, BRISE initially received funding for four years and has now been extended for a further four. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), Bremen City, and the Jacobs Foundation are supporting the project. The BMBF is providing the University of Bremen with 5.3 million euros in funding over the coming four years.

Support from Birth until School

The study wishes to find out if the early support of children can be improved if parents and children are directed towards pre-school offers, in order to create a seamless chain of support from birth to the start of school. The initiative also intends to contribute to the continual better networking of early childhood support services in Bremen.
A special focus is placed on the social and cultural disadvantages with which many children grow up and which are meant to be set off by means of support services. Risks for school life can stem from many things, for example when parents are unemployed, single parents, or parents with a migration background.

Study Approach and Challenges during the Pandemic

Each family that is participating in BRISE is accompanied by a researcher. Said researcher visits the family at home and regularly speaks to them about family-based strains and observations made concerning child development. At regular intervals, the families also go to a child-friendly research laboratory that was created especially for the study. In this way, developmental changes in brain activity can be assessed using EEG methods.

The social distancing due to the pandemic is a big challenge for BRISE. The collection of data has therefore been supported by telephone conversations and has been carried out according to a reviewed hygiene concept since the beginning of the pandemic.

Possible Effects of Continual Support

The main focus of the research study is on better understanding the effects of long-term support of children. An example of one aspect that is being assessed is to what extent continual support can balance out potential disadvantages in children’s cognitive, linguistic, and socioemotional abilities and how it may possibly positively influence mother-child relationships. In order to achieve this, the child development is observed in connection to family-based strains, health behavior, and socioeconomic surroundings.

Several Universities and Non-University Research Institutes Involved

With BRISE, the BMBF is funding a research network with several project partners. The research network spokesperson, Professor Olaf Köller, works at the Leibniz Institute for Science and Mathematics Education at Kiel University (IPN). University-based and non-university research institutes from Kiel, Bremen, Bamberg, Berlin, Heidelberg, and Frankfurt am Main are part of the consortium. The total BMBF funding amount is 14.8 million euros for the network project over the course of eight years.

Further Information: (in German only) (in German only)


PD Dr. Birgit Mathes
Bremen Project Lead
Bremen Initiative to Foster Early Childhood Development (BRISE)
University of Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-68661
Email: birgit.mathesprotect me ?!uni-bremenprotect me ?!.de

Spielzeug auf einer Leine in der Kita
The Bremen Initiative to Foster Early Childhood Development (BRISE) focusses on the development of children in Bremen.