Diskutierende Jugendliche

Needs survey for and with children and adolescents

Children and adolescents are experts on the environments they live in. They themselves can best say which requirements, desires, concerns and interests they have. That is why a "needs survey" should be carried out for and with children and adolescents.

Contact persons

Foto Antje Funcke
Antje Funcke
Senior Expert
Foto Sarah Menne
Sarah Menne
Senior Project Manager


From official statistics and information in social-welfare reports, we know too little about the requirements, desires, concerns and interests of children, adolescents and families in Germany. Given the sparsity of data, it is not possible to draw meaningful conclusions about the needs or consumption patterns of children and adolescents, differentiated by age or type of family.  

What is therefore required is a new, regular and representative survey of young people: a needs survey for and with children and adolescents. 

What makes a childhood and adolescence "good"?

Such a survey would provide information on what makes a "good" or "average" childhood and adolescence in Germany
(e.g. mobility, free-time activities, clothing, nonformal education, digital media, pocket money). It must include different formats for collecting data and involving participants. In addition to a regular and representative quantitative survey, more in-depth qualitative studies must also be conducted based on interviews, group discussions, children’s conferences and the like.

What do children and adolescents require to grow and develop as they schould? - The needs dimensions shown in the illustration depict normative framework required for answering that question.

In addition, information must be collected on the requirements specific to families and parents of younger children. When combined with data from other sources, the needs survey would provide the statistical foundation for determining how high a more inclusive universal child benefit should be. It would also be indispensable for designing education, family and community policies that actually put the focus on children and adolescents.  

Children and adolescents must be actively involved and consulted

Creating and further developing a regular and systematic needs survey is a complex and lengthy project that requires cooperation among many different actors from academia, politics and public administration. The planning and implementation of such a comprehensive survey of the needs of children and adolescents is clearly a task for policy makers – not a foundation like the Bertelsmann Stiftung.  

Using pilot projects and initial approaches, however, we want to show what a needs survey could look like. Yet one aspect remains crucial: Children and adolescents must be actively involved and consulted, right from the start!