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

The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood aims to boost awareness of and action on the extraordinary impact of the early years, in order to transform society for generations to come.

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.

The launch of the Centre follows last year’s 5 Big Questions on the Under-Fives survey, which, led by The Duchess, started a nationwide conversation on the early years, and 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.

Purnima Tanuku OBE, chief exec of NDNA, said: “This is an exciting and important initiative for the early years sector. All of us involved in working with our youngest children know and value the importance of getting their early years right. It’s important that we see early years as a crucial part of our national infrastructure.

“With everything our children have missed out on during the pandemic, it’s even more important that we focus on their development and learning. Evidence shows that the earlier we invest in our children the more impact we can have on their lives and future opportunities.

“Any parent knows how important their child’s key worker is at nursery. A well-trained, experienced and properly rewarded workforce has the biggest impact on children’s development and learning outcomes.

“We have always backed a research and evidenced based approach to ensuring best practice in early years. We’re delighted to see the work of the Duchess of Cambridge further support this and we will continue to promote the importance of early years for children, families and society as a whole.”

Early Years Alliance chief exec Neil Leitch said:

“We warmly welcome the launch of The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood, and its focus on increasing awareness of the huge importance of the early years.

“We know that the first five years of a child’s life are absolutely pivotal to their learning, development and life chances – and yet, for many years now, the early years sector in this country has been overlooked, undervalued and underfunded.

“As such, we very much look forward to working with the new Centre and sharing not only our own knowledge and expertise, but that of our thousands of members as well.

“We hope that the active role that the Duchess of Cambridge is taking in raising the profile of the early years will help act as a catalyst for change in the way that our sector is viewed and treated. Perhaps, for those in power, the message that the early years matters will finally start to get through.”

June O’Sullivan MBE and chief exec of charitable social enterprise, London Early Years Foundation (LEYF) which operates 42 nurseries across London said:

“There’s no question that an individual’s experience in early childhood has a significant and long-lasting impact on their future health and wellbeing which is why this new report by The Royal Foundation’s Centre for Early Childhood is so pertinent.

“However, over the past decade the Government has repeatedly underfunded the sector driving childcare costs up and quality down. If we are to achieve a greater focus on early childhood development that drives real, positive change for our society then, as a sector, we need full recognition. This must include increasing knowledge of why the Early Years matter in supporting a child’s healthy development but also supporting the workforce better so they feel more valued, recognised and equipped to be the best professionals they can be.”



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