Kate Middleton reveals hope to create 'happier and nurturing society' as she launches child development research centre

KATE Middleton reveals hope to create a “happier society” as she launches a child development research centre.

The Duchess of Cambridge has set up the Royal Foundation for Early Childhood – while saying she wants early child development to be treated as “the social equivalent to climate change”.

The launch of the new centre for research comes after more than half a million parents responded to her “5 Big Questions on the Under-Fives”.

Their responses revealed growing isolation and loneliness among parents – particularly in deprived areas.

Experts say failure to spot serious problems before the age of six can lead to homelessness, poor mental health, family breakdown and addiction — which is costing the UK £17billion as these children grow older.

Kate, a mother of three, has worked on Early Years projects for a decade. 

She has said she hopes to put the Early Years on an equal footing with the other great social challenges of our time during an online forum hosted by The Royal Foundation.

Last week, the Duchess visited Connor Downs Academy in Cornwall with First Lady Jill Biden.

In a passionate plea to launch a 56-page Big Change Starts Small report, the duchess said it is a "golden opportunity to create a happier, more mentally healthy, more nurturing society".

The centre, which is based at royal offices with half a dozen staff,  will commission research, awareness and projects for early years development.

A royal aide said: “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, but it is not discussed with the same seriousness or strategic intent that that issue is.

"And so, her mission for the last few years has been exploring what is the best way for her to build something, build relationships, her own knowledge, expertise, so that she can help position this work with that sort of importance.” 

The launch comes as research commissioned by The Royal Foundation revealed the Covid crisis has created a spike in the number of mums and dads feeling isolated.

According to the new figures, 16 per cent of parents of young children felt lonely in May.

This was almost double the figure in October last year.

In a video message, Kate said: "My own journey into understanding the importance of early childhood actually started with adults, and not with children. 

“It was about prevention.

"I wanted to understand what more we could do to help prevent some of today’s toughest social challenges, and what more we could do to help with the rising rates of poor mental health.”

Kate said she had spoken to psychiatrists and neuroscientists, as well as practitioners, academics and parents alike, and heard from all arenas that the best investment for future health and happiness is in the first five years of life.

"And that is why today I am launching the Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood,” she 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." 

A report released today, in collaboration with The Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University and the London School of Economics, is setting out recommendations on how all aspects of society can help.

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