In 2006 Professor Mats Granlund and Professor Eva Björck-Åkesson transferred from Mälardalen University to Jönköping University. They brought a research team that conducted research on children in need of special support. In Jönköping there was already a research team around Professor Karin Enskär that performed researched on daily functioning of children with long-term illnesses and how to support children during painful medical procedures. Soon, the groups found common ground and CHILD was formed.
"The goal was to build a more multidisciplinary environment where the groups could develop together. We also wanted to become nationally leading and internationally known in our field, and we wanted to train new researchers", says research director Mats Granlund.
"Through that, we could indirectly help even more children".
The interdisciplinary spirit of CHILD therefore rises from researchers of various disciplines, such as psychology, education, special education, disability science, medical science and health sciences. One goal is to constantly deepen partnerships between researchers and sciences for more interesting research and more accurate results.
After ten years of research, CHILD researchers have gained extensive knowledge on what the situation of children in need of special support looks like. Looking ahead, the researchers want to learn more about how children's functioning vary over time, from young children’s life in the family and pre-school, to the lives of older children in school, with friends, and also in young adulthood.
"Today we perform more longitudinal studies where we study the children for a few years. We want to apply what we already know to make the situation better for the children, therefore we focus more on studies in which we evaluate the measures. We have had impact with our research in daily life for children through cooperation with municipalities, county councils and authorities. We have also increased the number of articles we publish each year in scientific journals, we are cited more often by other researchers and have increased our collaboration with researchers from other countries", explains the research leader Mats Granlund.
CHILD was recently evaluated by a group of external professors and got a very positive review.
"We are seen as topnotch in our field in Sweden and are expected to also do well internationally. In a comparison with all the researchers in our field in the Nordic region, we have in the group three researchers who belong to the TOP 10% of the researchers, and four researchers who belong to the TOP 25%. We are also granted on average in 5-6 million SEK/year in external research funding, which is good, although the figures need to be even higher", says Mats Granlund.
CHILD includes 35-40 researchers from the School of Health and Welfare and the School of Education and Communication at Jönköping University. In recent years, the number of professors and associate professors in the group have slightly increased while the team still continues to train new researchers and post-doc researchers.
Due to an impending generational shift the younger team members are supported in gaining experience in leading a research group. But the team also need to recruit experienced researchers. The high research- and topic expertise that exists within CHILD bodes well for the future.
"As it looks now, the future looks bright, the group will continue to develop. Obviously, the focus of the research will change slightly depending on the researchers involved and their interests, but we will continue to have daily functioning of children and adolescents in need of additional support as our area of interest", Mats Granlund says.