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Duchess of Cambridge to hold talks with ministers on early years development

Duchess of Cambridge to hold talks with ministers on early years development
Kate said early experiences are fundamental in shaping children’s futures.

The Duchess of Cambridge is to host a round-table event on the importance of early childhood development as research reveals that 70% of people think it should be prioritised more.

Kate will host the discussion on Thursday, which is expected to focus on findings by The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood showing that nine in 10 (91%) agree that early years are important in shaping children’s lives but less than a fifth (17%) recognise the unique importance of children’s development from birth to the age of five.

The findings show that seven in 10 (70%) people believe early years development should be more of a priority for society, while over half (55%) of the public recognise that future mental health is the most likely part of adult life to be affected by one’s early years, followed by the ability to create and maintain relationships (51%) and future happiness (40%).

Alongside The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood, the duchess will meet Health Secretary Sajid Javid, families minister Will Quince, representatives from the early years sector and officials from the Department for Education and the Department of Health and Social Care.

Our experiences in early childhood fundamentally impact our whole life

Duchess of Cambridge

The research also shows that informal groups are the key source of support for parents, with more than half of parents of children aged 0 to five stating their family or friends were the best source of information on their child’s emotional and social development.

Parents are also more likely to seek out information and advice on their child’s physical health than they are on their social or emotional development, with 35% asking for advice on nutrition, while just 21% seek advice on the development of social skills.

Kate said: “Our experiences in early childhood fundamentally impact our whole life and set thefoundation for how we go on to thrive as individuals, with one another, as a community and as a society.

“The findings published today present us with a huge opportunity and demonstrate there is real appetite from the public to bring this issue up all of our agendas.

“There is more we can all do – every member of society can play a key role, whether that is directly with a child or by investing in the adults around them – the parents, the carers, the early years workforce and more.”

Kelly Beaver, chief executive of Ipsos UK and Ireland, which carried out the polling of over 4,000 UK adults from April 21 to May 5, said: “Although the majority of us agree that the experiences people have in childhood can have a significant impact on their future, a minority of Britons recognise the unique importance of the first five years of a child’s life.

“These formative years are crucial in the emotional, social and physical development of every child and this critical new research, for The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood, provides the opportunity for society to ignite a discussion about how parents and children can be better supported during this period.”

The duchess has previously visited Denmark to learn more about their investment in early childhood development, having launched The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood in June 2021, which aims to raise awareness of the importance of early years experiences in shaping society over the long term.