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The Duchess of Cambridge launches The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood

18th June 2021  |  By: Michelle Cunliffe


Our Patron, Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge is today launching The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood.

Our Chief Executive, Professor Peter Fonagy; Director of our Education and Training Division, Professor Eamon McCrory have been part of the steering group; and Head of our Early Years Programme, Dr Camilla Rosan provided expert guidance on content regarding the importance of the early years.

The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood has published its inaugural report, Big Change Starts Small, which brings together leading sector research in one place and underlines the critical lifelong impact of the early years on individuals, our economy and society at large. It also sets out recommendations on how all aspects of society can contribute positively and make a difference on this important issue.

The report also reveals that the cost of lost opportunity is £16.13 billion per year in England alone. This is the cost to society of the remedial steps we take to address issues – from children in care to short and long term mental and physical health issues – that might have been avoided through action in early childhood.

Professor Peter Fonagy, Chief Executive of the Anna Freud Centre, says: “We’re proud to be expert advisors on this important work. The Duchess of Cambridge has been and is a passionate advocate for children, particularly in their early years. The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood will drive awareness of and action on the extraordinary impact of the early years, in order to transform society for generations to come.

"There is nothing more important we can do for the youngest members of our society than to give them a fair and equal start in life. How we support them during this period will have an impact on their happiness, their health and their chances of realising their potential. Her Royal Highness’ work in this field is a catalyst for change and that is helping us to achieve the quality of care that children and their families so richly deserve.”

Last week, on the first day of the G7 summit in Cornwall, Professor Eamon McCrory spoke with The Duchess of Cambridge and the First Lady of the United States Dr Jill Biden at a roundtable about early years education. Professor McCrory presented scientific evidence of the importance of early childhood for lifelong outcomes.

Professor McCrory, Director of the Anna Freud Centre’s Education and Training Division, says: “We know that the first five years of life can have a profound impact on long term outcomes, including on physical and mental health and educational attainment. This is a unique opportunity to highlight for a global audience the critical importance of developmental and neuroscience research and its potential to significantly improve the lives of children and their families.”

The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood will focus on three key areas of activity in the years to come:

  • Promoting and commissioning high-quality research to increase knowledge and share best practice;
  • Working with people from across the private, public and voluntary sectors to collaborate on new solutions; and
  • Developing creative campaigns to raise awareness and inspire action, driving real, positive change on the early years.

For over ten years, The Duchess of Cambridge has seen first-hand how some of today’s hardest social challenges – from addiction and violence to family breakdown and homelessness, so often underpinned by poor mental health – have their roots in the earliest years of life. In that time, The Duchess also convened a steering group of experts to look at how cross-sector collaboration could bring about lasting change, and spent time listening to the public about their views on the importance of the early years.

Last year, The Duchess led a nationwide conversation on the early years through the 5 Big Questions on the Under-Fives survey which received over 500,000 responses. The findings from that survey, combined with further representative research conducted by Ipsos MORI, showed that most people don’t understand the specific importance of early childhood, and revealed that the COVID-19 pandemic had resulted in a dramatic increase in parental loneliness.

As a result, Her Royal Highness is committed to elevating the importance of early childhood and continuing the conversation on this vital issue. The launch of The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood is a landmark step in Her Royal Highness’ work and signals her lifelong commitment to improving outcomes across society.

Visit The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood website: www.centreforearlychildhood.org.

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