Early Years

Building foundations for life

For the last nine years, The Duchess of Cambridge has spent time looking into how experiences in early childhood are often the root cause of today’s hardest social challenges such as addiction, family breakdown, poor mental health, suicide and homelessness.

Having met many people who are dealing with a range of issues, she has seen over and over again how often these problems can be traced back to the earliest years of someone’s life. What we experience in the early years, from conception to the age of five, shapes the developing brain, which is why positive physical, emotional and cognitive development during this period is so crucial. It is a time when the building blocks are established, laying foundations that help provide greater resilience to deal with future adversity.

The Duchess wanted to dig deeper into the current early years landscape to understand the issues that we face and learn how we can best tackle them. It was important to listen to the experts, academics, practitioners, service providers and charities within the sector who work every day to make our families and communities stronger. Equally important was hearing from parents themselves and in January 2020, The Duchess launched a landmark survey and travelled around the four nations to meet with parents and listen to their views on raising the next generation.

Her Royal Highness is committed to this crucial cause, but only by working together can we bring about positive, lasting change for generations to come.

#5BigInsights

In 2020, The Royal Foundation commissioned Ipsos MORI to conduct a major research study, exploring what the UK thinks about the early years. The findings from this landmark work were shared in the #5BigInsights, which provide an unrivalled insight into public attitudes on the topic as well as informing The Duchess’ work in this area. It will also be a vital source of information for the early years sector, helping to improve understanding of public perceptions of the importance of the early years, and the first-hand experiences of parents, families and carers.

The #5BigInsights were shared and discussed at a Forum in November:

Click here to read the report’s Executive Summary

Click here to read the Report in full

#5BigInsights

In 2020, The Royal Foundation commissioned Ipsos MORI to conduct a major research study, exploring what the UK thinks about the early years. The findings from this landmark work were shared in the #5BigInsights, which provide an unrivalled insight into public attitudes on the topic as well as informing The Duchess’ work in this area. It will also be a vital source of information for the early years sector, helping to improve understanding of public perceptions of the importance of the early years, and the first-hand experiences of parents, families and carers.

The #5BigInsights were shared and discussed at a Forum in November:

Click here to read the report’s Executive Summary

Click here to read the Report in full

5 Big Questions

Parents, carers and families are at the heart of our work on the early years. Every day, up and down the country, they are shaping the minds of the next generation. In January 2020, The Duchess launched a landmark public survey about the under-fives, sparking the biggest ever conversation on early childhood. Open to everyone, it sought society’s views on raising the next generation, so that we can all work together on the key issues affecting our communities and provide help where it is needed most. 500,000 people filled in the survey, making it the largest ever response to a public survey of its kind. 

5 Big Questions

Parents, carers and families are at the heart of our work on the early years. Every day, up and down the country, they are shaping the minds of the next generation. In January 2020, The Duchess launched a landmark public survey about the under-fives, sparking the biggest ever conversation on early childhood. Open to everyone, it sought society’s views on raising the next generation, so that we can all work together on the key issues affecting our communities and provide help where it is needed most. 500,000 people filled in the survey, making it the largest ever response to a public survey of its kind. 

Early Years Steering Group

A steering group was established in May 2018 to look at how we could work collaboratively to bring about positive lasting change. The Duchess has heard first-hand from this group about the lasting effects of adverse childhood experiences, but also how positive, protective factors in the early years can play a crucial role in long-term outcomes for our children.

The knowledge we now have about the importance of the early years – and the long-term impact of our earliest experiences – provides us with both an obligation and an opportunity.

Early Years Steering Group

A steering group was established in May 2018 to look at how we could work collaboratively to bring about positive lasting change. The Duchess has heard first-hand from this group about the lasting effects of adverse childhood experiences, but also how positive, protective factors in the early years can play a crucial role in long-term outcomes for our children.

The knowledge we now have about the importance of the early years – and the long-term impact of our earliest experiences – provides us with both an obligation and an opportunity.

Tiny Happy People

Her Royal Highness has been supporting the development of BBC Education’s Tiny Happy People – an initiative providing a range of free digital resources designed to support parents and carers in developing children’s language from pregnancy to the age of four.

Recognising the significance of the project to supporting parents as they guide their children through the earliest years of life, Her Royal Highness supported the launch of the project in July 2020, and The Royal Foundation will continue to collaborate with the BBC as they develop and roll it out.

Click here to visit the BBC's Tiny Happy People

Tiny Happy People

Her Royal Highness has been supporting the development of BBC Education’s Tiny Happy People – an initiative providing a range of free digital resources designed to support parents and carers in developing children’s language from pregnancy to the age of four.

Recognising the significance of the project to supporting parents as they guide their children through the earliest years of life, Her Royal Highness supported the launch of the project in July 2020, and The Royal Foundation will continue to collaborate with the BBC as they develop and roll it out.

Click here to visit the BBC's Tiny Happy People

“We all have a part to play in building the right foundations for our children in the early years. By linking up all the amazing work, research, knowledge and passion that is already out there we can create a space where we can all explore the importance of early childhood and how it shapes the world around us.”

The Duchess of Cambridge

Read The Duchess's Speech in Full