Prince William’s wife will speak at an online Royal Foundation forum on Friday as her in-depth research into early childhood comes to light. In a keynote speech the duchess will discuss the findings of the study – the largest of its kind in the UK on perceptions of how a child develops. More than half-a-million people responded to the duchess’ call to take part in the survey by answering five key questions.
While Kate has long focused on babies and children’s development in her role since joining the Royal Family, it is understood the duchess will come across in a new light as she sets out her commitment to the issue.
She will warn of the crucial role early years play in raising a generation of adults and shaping society as a whole.
The duchess will say in her keynote address: “Over the last decade I have met people from all walks of life.
“I have seen that experiences such as homelessness, addiction and poor mental health are often grounded in a difficult childhood.
“But I have also seen how positive protective factors in the early years can play a crucial role in shaping our futures …
“The early years are not simply about how we raise our children. They are in fact about how we raise the next generation of adults.
“They are about the society we will become.”
Kate’s study found that only one in four people recognised the critical importance of the first five years of a child’s life.
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A source said: “This week is very much a milestone moment for the duchess’s work in this area.”
And referring to social challenges such as mental health, family breakdown, addiction and homelessness, they added: “She has seen again and again just how often problems like this can be traced back to the earliest years of someone’s life.
“She’s committed to bringing about change in this area.”
The Royal Foundation’s survey was carried out by polling giant Ipsos MORI.
The results showed that although 90 percent see parental mental health and wellbeing as critical to a child’s development, only 10 percent of parents admitted they took time to look after themselves in the run up to the birth of their baby.
The study – which has produced five key insights – also showed that the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically increased parental loneliness, with 38 percent experiencing this before the crisis, and 63 percent – almost two-thirds – after the first lockdown, a jump of a quarter.
Other findings include how feeling judged can make a bad situation worse, with seven out of every 10 parents saying they felt judged by other parents.
Almost half (48 percent) said this negatively affected their mental health.
The survey aims to encourage a nationwide conversation on the subject and raise awareness of how the first five years of a child’s life will impact the next 50 years in UK society.
The research included further qualitative and ethnographic research, a nationally representative survey conducted before the pandemic and, at Kate’s request, a further survey on the impact of COVID-19 on families.