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UK royal Kate sets up new centre to focus on importance of early years

·2 min read

LONDON (Reuters) - Kate, Britain's Duchess of Cambridge, launches a new centre for early childhood on Friday with the aim of raising the importance of the first five years of children's lives and seeking to "transform society for generations to come", her office said.

The centre, set up as part of Kate and husband Prince William's Royal Foundation charity arm, will focus on three main areas: promoting high-quality research; working with experts from all sectors to find solutions; and developing campaigns to raise awareness and inspire action.

"I’ve spoken to psychiatrists and neuroscientists, to practitioners and academics and parents alike, and what has become clear is that the best investment for our future health and happiness is in the first five years of life," Kate 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."

Kensington Palace said Kate, who has three young children with William aged from three to seven, had seen first-hand since becoming a royal over a decade ago how issues from addiction and violence to family breakdown and homelessness all had their roots in the earliest years of life.

To coincide with the launch, the centre has published a report 'Big Change Starts Small', written with help from the London School of Economics and The Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University.

This estimated that the cost of not taking preventative action in early childhood in England alone was 16.13 billion pounds ($22.5 billion), with society paying for remedial action such as for children in care to long-term mental health issues.

The announcement comes a week after Kate was joined by U.S. first lady Jill Biden on a visit to a school during the Group of Seven leaders' summit in Cornwall, southwest England, where they also met a group of childhood experts from Britain and the United States.

($1 = 0.7165 pounds)

(Reporting by Michael Holden; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)

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