Kate Middleton Launches Center For Early Childhood to Tackle "The Social Equivalent to Climate Change"

·3 min read
Photo credit: OLI SCARFF - Getty Images
Photo credit: OLI SCARFF - Getty Images

For almost a decade, the Duchess of Cambridge has worked to understand and highlight the importance of the earliest years of a child’s life in shaping the person that they become. And today, she has taken a significant step by announcing the launch of The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood.

Kate launched the center, which will be based from the Royal Foundation offices at Kensington Palace, with a video message detailing her journey so far and outlining her mission. “Working closely with others, the center 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,” she said. “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.”

The center’s work will focus on three key areas: research, collaborations to find solutions, and campaigns to raise awareness and inspire action. An aide said that the types of projects the center would work on included making the science of the early years accessible to different audiences. A dedicated website has also been launched to help highlight the importance of early childhood in addition to showcasing the center’s work and research. Kensington Palace described the project as a “landmark” step in Kate’s work and said it “signals her lifelong commitment to improving outcomes across society.”

Discussing the project, a royal aide shared how Kate has said that she sees this issue as “the social equivalent to climate change.”

“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 realize 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,” the aide said. “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 aide also described how Kate’s thinking was “reframed” after seeing and hearing personal stories of challenges adults were facing and considering research and evidence on how the earliest years can shape our futures. “The vision that the Duchess has is for a happier, healthier, more nurturing world,” the aide said.

Photo credit: WPA Pool - Getty Images
Photo credit: WPA Pool - Getty Images

To coincide with the center’s launch, the Royal Foundation has published the report Big Change Starts Small, which brings together research on the early years. Written in collaboration with The Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University and the London School of Economics, the report also explores the economic cost of treating problems later in life that might have been avoided through early childhood intervention.

There can be no doubting Kate’s passion in this area, and people who have worked with her as she has developed her knowledge previously spoke with T&C about her approach. "She’s very collaborative, not just within the team but also wanting to use her position to bring others together. And we’re seeing the results of that now,” one person who worked with the Duchess in the earliest years shared.

Eamon McCrory, Professor of Developmental Neuroscience and Psychopathology at University College London, who advised on a steering group of academics and practitioners that Kate convened, said that he believed she was “engaged in a radical mission to transform how we, as a society, approach the early years.”

Last year, Kate commissioned a major study into what Britain thinks about the early years, sharing ‘5 big insights’ at its conclusion. “She sees her work in the long term,” McCrory previously said to T&C, noting that Kate’s “genuine commitment” and presence as a “central organizing force” make her uniquely positioned to create change.

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