The Duchess of Cambridge has set up a research centre for early childhood that will study the root causes of social issues such as addiction and violence – The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood. The ambitious project is part of The Duchess of Cambridge’s life-long focus ‘ Early years’.
Last week after The Duchess of Cambridge and US First Lady Dr Jill Biden’s joint engagement, Kensington Palace shared a small tidbit, since then there were speculations and excitement around the announcement.
Next week, The Duchess is looking forward to sharing a major announcement about how she is working to elevate the importance of early childhood and continue the conversation on this vital issue.
The milestone moment in Catherine’s royal journey, the centre will drive awareness of and action on the extraordinary impact of the early years, in order to transform society for generations to come. It will educate and create awareness around how what happens to children in the first 5 years of their lives can have a make or break effect on their futures.
The launch of the centre is being described equally to The Duke of Cambridge’s Earthshot Prize. From BBC’s report,
An aide said the development would shape her future focus as a senior royal. “The duchess has made the observation that the more you learn about the science of early childhood, whether it’s brain development, social science, what it means for our adult mental health, the more you realise that this is the social equivalent to climate change,” they said. “But it is not discussed with the same seriousness or strategic intent that that issue is.”
The centre will be based at Kensington Palace, the London residence of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and will start with dedicated six-strong team members working on three key areas:
- Promoting/commissioning high-quality research
- Collaborating with experts in the public, private and voluntary sectors
- Developing creative campaigns for awareness and action.
Kensington Palace has released the centre’s first report, ‘Big Change Starts Small,’ a work of collaboration between experts at the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University and the London School of Economics, and includes information on making real change for mental health, data, inter-generational change, & building the early years workforce.
The study found that negligence and failing young children costs £16.13 billion per year in England alone. Research by YouGov, commissioned by the Foundation and published on Friday – the final day of loneliness week – shows parents of young children have continued to feel lonelier as the pandemic has progressed. Some 9% always or often felt lonely in October 2020, compared with 16% in May 2021. The full report can be read here on the Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood’s website.
Speaking in the launch video The Duchess of Cambridge said,
Working closely with others, the centre hopes to raise awareness of why the first five years of life are just so important for our future life outcomes, and what we can do as a society to embrace this golden opportunity to create a happier, more mentally healthy, more nurturing society. By working together, my hope is that we can change the way we think about early childhood, and transform lives for generations to come. Because I truly believe Big Change starts Small.
The Duchess of Cambridge wrote the forward of Centre’s first report that read, “Our first five years lay important foundations for our future selves. This period is when we first learn to manage our emotions and impulses, to care and to empathise, and thus ultimately to establish healthy relationships with ourselves and others.“
The CEO of The Royal Foundation, Lord Hague, said, “The Duchess and the Foundation will aim to bring people together from all corners of the country and all parts of society to help improve early childhoods and ultimately lifelong outcomes.” He said the centre is a pivotal moment of Catherine’s work in the field of Early years.
The website of The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood contains many interesting and informative pieces that will help parents, carers, families and society in general. If you haven’t explored it then please do, you will learn many amazing facts and figures along with scientific knowledge as well as helpful resources.
The Duchess of Cambridge opening a research centre is her following the footsteps of past Kings & Queens opening research centres & institutes to enable causes to flourish.
For example, the Royal Observatory was commissioned by King Charles II & pushed astrology to the forefront. pic.twitter.com/Ovg9MZxw3v
— Toria (@toricambridge) June 17, 2021
With this initiative, Catherine has joined the long string of Royals in generations who have either set up or supported Research centres. Last weekend, The Duchess of Cambridge shared her thoughts together with the First lady of the United States about the early years in a CNN article,
The two of us believe that early childhood care and education should be seen as among the defining, strategic issues of our time. What would happen if we really followed the science of early childhood and started focusing on the things that would make the biggest difference for children and those who guide them? We could transform the prospects of an entire generation.
As we look to a post-pandemic future, there are few issues more worthy of our attention than the transformative power of early childhood care and education for our communities and nations. We look forward to championing this work in the years to come.
Kensington Palace shared a small video showcasing Catherine’s journey to build her legacy since her marriage with the title – ‘Ten Years in Making’. The Website of The Research centre also showcases how The Duchess of Cambridge reached where she is today with Early Years.
Although she has been working with children charities even before her marriage, her royal role in the Early years began when she became the patron of Action on Addiction, East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices, the Art Room at the beginning of 2012. Her first public speech was on March 19, 2012, at the opening of the Treehouse, a new children’s hospice opened by East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices. The Duchess of Cambridge’s first private secretary, Rebecca Priestley talked to The Telegraph’s Royal Reporter Camilla Tominey and reflected on how The Duchess of Cambridge’s public role began,
I remember going up to Anglesey, where they were living after the wedding, to have a conversation with the Duchess about her royal life.
At that point, she had the philanthropic world at her feet. She could have done anything she wanted in the charitable arena. Typically, she had put a lot of thought into it already. Addiction was an issue she was instinctively thinking about – but she was also genuinely interested in understanding what support was there and what role that played in the bigger picture of mainstream societal issues.
In the early years, she visited her patronages, publicly and privately, to meet people rebuilding their lives after addiction, homelessness and family breakdown. These are the factors that affect and shape our mental health and our society altogether.
After meeting with peoples from all walks of life for more than 4 years, Catherine came with the idea of Heads Together – an initiative under the umbrella of The Royal Foundation that helps to eliminate the stigma around Mental health and encourage people to talk, share and seek mental health. Prince William revealed during the 2018 forum that it was Catherine who came up with the idea of combining their initiatives to develop a larger focus and force to work around mental health and well being.
Heads Together were launched in 2016 and since it launched the initiative has helped thousands around the nation. Kensington Palace says that after working with Heads Together, children and family charities and mental health experts, Catherine found out about the science behind the Early years. Advances in brain science have shown that early childhood – pregnancy to five – has implications for our development that go far beyond our physical abilities. In fact, this represents one of the best investments we can make for the long-term health, wellbeing and happiness of our society.
Many studies have proved that early childhood is often the root cause of today’s hardest social challenges such as addiction, family breakdown, poor mental health, suicide and homelessness. Having met many people who are dealing with a range of issues, The Duchess of Cambridge has seen over and over again how often these problems can be traced back to the earliest years of someone’s life.
The Duchess of Cambridge launched a steering group in 2018. She convened academics, practitioners and charities to focus on early intervention to support the social, emotional and mental wellbeing of young children. The Duchess’s longer-term aim is to create long-term collaboration between experts and organisations in order to build strong partnerships and to raise awareness of issues relating to perinatal, maternal and infant mental health, as well as the need to support parents, families and teachers. The steering group works to explore how best to support academics, practitioners and charities in their work to provide all children with the best possible start in life.
She has spent 10 years looking into how experiences in early childhood are often the root cause of today’s hardest social challenges such as addiction, family breakdown, poor mental health, suicide and homelessness.
And Because my journey started by listening I wanted to hear more – The Duchess of Cambridge.
As part of her research and learning more about the impacts of childhood, The Duchess of Cambridge wanted to hear from the parents and guardians and she launched a landmark public survey about the under-fives ‘5 Big Questions’ in January 2020. She travelled around the four nations to meet with parents and listen to their views on raising the next generation. They Survey sparked the biggest ever conversation on early childhood. Open to everyone, it sought society’s views on raising the next generation.
The Survey was a huge hit and over half a million people responded to it. The Duchess revealed the result of the big survey in November 2020 with a passionate keynote speech at the First Early Years Forum. The result of the survey was released early in the morning along with the Executive Summary and Full report that is available on its website.
People often asked why I care so passionately about the early years. Many mistakenly believe that my interest stems from having children of my own. And while of course I care hugely about their start in life, this ultimately sells the issue short.
Parenthood isn’t a prerequisite for understanding the importance of Early years. If we only expect people to take an interest in the early years when they have children, we aren’t only too late for them, we are underestimating the huge role others can play in shaping our most formative years too.
In 2020, The Duchess of Cambridge collaborated with BBC’s Tiny Happy People – a BBC Education initiative providing a range of free digital resources designed to support parents and carers in developing children’s language from pregnancy to the age of five. The initiative attracts 120,000 views every day across Instagram and Facebook, while the Tiny Happy People website reaches 47,000 parents each week. Patricia Hidalgo Reina, Director of BBC Children’s and Education said, “There has never been a more important time to support the early years, to help make sure that every child has the best start in life. The BBC is proud to be part of a coalition of organisations addressing this issue alongside the Centre for Early Childhood.”
From visiting charities to the launch of Mentally Healthy Schools, setting up a steering group that works specifically for Early years to the one of a kind survey, Children and Family Garden to the Early childhood Research Centre, The Duchess of Cambridge is determined to change the generations to come as it’s our children and their upbringing that determine what our society will be tomorrow.
“We all know how important childhood is; and how the early years shape us for life. We also know how negative the downstream impact can be if problems emerging at the youngest age are overlooked, or ignored. It is therefore vital that we nurture children through this critical, early period – The Duchess of Cambridge.”
In 2010 during her engagement interview, she said,
I really hope I can make a difference, even in the smallest way. I am looking forward to helping as much as I can – Catherine Middleton
In the last more than one decade, these words have proven to be true many-many times. Her work in the last decade has shown one thing, “Catherine was never about the quick wins“. Instead of being part of short-term and fast projects, Catherine took her time to build the foundation for something that has the potential to change society. The Duchess of Cambridge listened, learnt and worked hard. She took the time to become an expert in the cause she feels passionate and today we are seeing the result of that hard work in front of and behind the scene.
In the video, The Duchess of Cambridge is wearing Lauren Ralph Lauren Nadalia Top
We will see The Duchess of Cambridge tomorrow launching the centre officially and undertaking her first engagement related to the centre.