The Duchess of Cambridge has focused on early childhood development for more than 10 years and aims to create her lifelong charitable legacy in the field.
For more than a decade, the Duchess of Cambridge has been learning about and researching how some of British society’s hardest challenges—including addiction, homelessness, and poor mental health—have their roots in the earliest years of a person’s life. Today, Duchess Kate is taking her work in the field of early childhood to the next level by announcing The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood—a hub within the Cambridges’ charitable vehicle that will help push for increased awareness of and new research into the impact of the early years.
The project, which the duchess shared two teasers for on the Cambridges’ social media accounts this week, aims “to transform society for generations to come,” Kensington Palace says in a statement shared with BAZAAR.com.
Alongside the announcement, Kate also launched the center’s first inaugural report, titled Big Change Starts Small, which has brought together research from across the sector and highlights six areas with opportunities to make a difference, including “building a mentally healthier and more nurturing society,” “creating communities of support,” and helping strengthen the early years workforce. It was written in collaboration with Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child and the London School of Economics, and also reveals the huge amount currently spent on addressing issues that exist in British society that could be avoided through early intervention—$22.45 billion (£16.13 billion).
“Our first five years lay important foundations for our future selves,” Kate writes in a letter in the report. “This period is when we first learn to manage our emotions and impulses, to care and to empathize, and thus ultimately to establish healthy relationships with ourselves and others.”
She continues, “It is a time when our experience of the world around us, and the way that moulds our development, can have a lifelong impact on our future mental and physical wellbeing. Indeed, what shapes our childhood shapes the adults and the parents we become.”
Kate—who will appear at an embargoed royal engagement on June 18 to mark the announcement and also share a personal video message on social media—is also launching a new website to help raise awareness of the importance of early childhood and serve as a base for the center’s latest activities, which will include research into increasing knowledge; working with people across the private, public, and voluntary sectors to collaborate on new solutions; and developing campaigns to also raise awareness.
Lord William Hague, chair of The Royal Foundation, says in a statement, “The launch of the Centre for Early Childhood is a pivotal moment in The Duchess of Cambridge’s work on this critical issue. Her Royal Highness and The Royal Foundation are determined to help bring about lasting change for future generations.”
He adds, “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. Over the coming years, the Centre will help to create better understanding of the relevant issues, making it clear why the experiences we have in our earliest years are so important—not just to us as individuals but to society at large.”