Last reviewed 30 June 2022

The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood has published the findings of new research which shows the need to increase action and awareness on the importance of the early years.

The Duchess of Cambridge and the Royal Foundation hosted a roundtable with the early years sector, ministers and senior civil servants to discuss the results of the research and the broader importance of early childhood development to society.

The research looks at public perceptions of early childhood, focusing on three key areas: the prioritisation of the early years; the link between the first five years of life and lifelong outcomes for mental health and wellbeing; and the support parents seek when raising young children.

Key findings from the research include the following.

  • Nine in ten agree that the early years are important in shaping a person’s future life but less than a fifth recognise the unique importance of the 0–5 period.

  • Seven in ten think the early years should be more of a priority for society.

  • The majority of the public recognise a person’s future mental health and wellbeing is the most likely part of adult life to be affected by their early childhood.

  • Community support networks were found to be a crucial for parents.

  • Parents are more likely to seek support for their child’s physical wellbeing than social and emotional development.

The Duchess of Cambridge said: 

“Our experiences in early childhood fundamentally impact our whole life and set the foundation for how we go on to thrive as individuals, with one another, as a community and as a society.”

“The findings published today present us with a huge opportunity and demonstrate there is real appetite from the public to bring this issue up 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.”

“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 full report is available here.