The Duchess of Cambridge will meet with Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, on Thursday as she calls for children’s mental health to be prioritised in her first political round-table discussion.
The event marks a significant milestone in the Duchess’s long-term work on early childhood development.
It is hoped that by highlighting the results of new research, the Government will understand the “huge appetite” for driving awareness and action on the wider impact that the first five years of life can have on society at large.
A survey commissioned by the Duchess’s new Centre for Early Childhood revealed that less than a fifth (17 per cent) of people recognise the unique significance of the first five years, while seven in 10 think it should be more of a priority for society.
The poll of 4,682 adults found that more than half (55 per cent) recognise that future mental health is the most likely part of adult life to be affected by early years’ experience. Parents also said they were more likely to seek support for a child’s physical wellbeing than social and emotional development.
‘There is more we can all do’
The findings will be analysed by the Duchess, Mr Javid, Will Quince, the families minister, representatives from the early years sector and officials from the Department for Education and the Department of Health and Social Care at the Royal Institution in central London.
The Duchess will 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 adds: “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.”
The Duchess launched the Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood last summer, saying she wanted to take a “holistic approach” to better prepare the next generation of parents.
After spending years “listening and learning” on private visits, she expressed a determination to drive awareness and action.
The work will be a central plank of her royal career, as she focuses on what she believes is “one of the great issues of our time.”
The Duchess will co-host the round-table discussion two years after her landmark survey – 5 Big Questions on the Under-Fives – attracted the largest ever response to a public poll of its kind with more than 500,000 responses in one month.
The poll found that there was near unanimous agreement (91 per cent) that the early years were important in shaping adult life. More than half of parents with young children cited family or friends as key sources of information on emotional and social development.
Kelly Beaver, chief executive of Ipsos UK and Ireland, which conducted the study, said: “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.”
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( Information from telegraph.co.uk was used in this report. To Read More, click here )