Kate makes huge political intervention as Duchess meets Government officials in new plea

Kate Middleton arrives at London baby bank in Brent

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The Duchess of Cambridge is to host a roundtable discussion with a number of Government ministers and experts in the early years sector. During the meeting, Kate will analyse research released today to show there is a “real appetite” from the nation to see children’s mental health being prioritised.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid will be among the politicians in attendance, joined by the Minister for Families Will Quince and officials from the Health and Social Care and Education departments.

The event, to take place later today, marks a major milestone in the Duchess’ work on early childhood development and consolidates her prominent position within the Royal Family.

During the roundtable discussion, Kate will focus on research led by Ipsos on behalf of the Centre for Early Childhood, which she launched last summer as part of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s Royal Foundation.

The Ipsos poll, carried out on 4,682 adults, found that only 17 percent of those surveyed recognise the unique significance of the first five years of life for the development of children.

However, seven in 10 think a focus on early development and mental health should be more of a priority for society.

The study also found that 55 percent of those polled recognise that future mental health is the most likely part of adult life to be affected by early years’ experience.

Parents who took part in the survey also conceded they were more likely to seek support for the physical wellbeing of their children rather than their emotional and social development.

During the high-profile meeting, Kate is expected to say: “The findings published today present us with a huge opportunity and demonstrate there is real appetite from the public to bring this issue up on 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.

She will add: “If we come together to raise the importance of early childhood development, we’ll soon see that healthy, happy individuals make for a healthier, happier world.

“Which is why every second we spend with a child is an investment in our collective future.”

Kelly Beaver, chief executive of Ipsos UK and Ireland, commented on the findings saying “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.”

This roundtable discussion comes after a decade-long work behind the scenes, research and collaboration with relevant organisations carried out by the Duchess.

Since becoming a working royal, Kate has taken a profound interest in the early years and understood how some of adults’ hardest social challenges – including addiction – have their roots in the experience made during the first five years of life.

Among the stepping stones of her work on early childhood, in 2018 she convened a steering group to look at the necessary moves to make a positive difference in the lives of children.

In January 2020, she launched a nationwide survey, called 5 Big Questions on the Under-Fives, which drew the largest-ever response to a public survey of its kind, gathering in a month more than 500,000 responses.

The findings of this poll, combined with experts’ research, case studies and a focus on the impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on early childhood, were presented in November that year during a high-profile online forum hosted by the Royal Foundation.

During the event, Kate delivered a keynote speech, during which she stressed her interest in early childhood was not necessarily linked to being a mother.

Rather, she said, this is a topic that should interest the whole nation, as decisions made today on early years development can shape the future of the society.

Last summer, after meeting US First Lady Jill Biden who shares her interest in the issue, Kate penned a comment piece with the politician, with a pledge to work across borders to elevate the importance of early care.

In February, the Duchess carried out a solo trip to Copenhagen to learn more about the Danish world-leading approach to early childhood.

Among her most recent engagements focused on the early years, Kate visited last week the Little Village’s hub, the largest baby bank network in London.

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