It was a busy and exciting day for the Duchess of Cambridge as she travelled to Cardiff and Surrey for events marking the launch of her early years project - 5 Big Questions. Speaking about the landmark survey Kate said: "Parents, carers and families are at the heart of caring for children in the formative years, so that is why I want to listen to them. As a parent I know how much we cherish the future health and happiness of our children. The Early Years are more crucial for future health and happiness than any other moment in our lifetime. I want to hear the key issues affecting our families and communities so I can focus my work on where it is needed most."
The survey "aims to spark the biggest ever conversation on early childhood that will ultimately help bring about positive, lasting change for generations to come." It's being conducted by Ipsos MORI on behalf of the Royal Foundation and will last for a month. The results will be revealed in March and will determine the next steps in Kate's early years work.
David Holmes, chief executive of Kate's patronage Family Action said:
"Every parent, carer and family wants the best for their child and raising the profile of the vital early years in a child’s life is work of national importance. The insight this survey will give the early years sector valuable direction in designing and delivering services and support which reflect what matters most to people."
More from The BBC:
'Kate Stanley, from the NSPCC, says the duchess's survey will "provide fascinating insight into how we think about the early years and it will be a vital source of information for the sector".
Asked about the value of the questionnaire, she told BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Tuesday the results of the survey would help inform "the kind of conversation we need to have" with parents about the importance of a child's early years.'
During a conversation with parents and staff, Kate opened up about feeling isolated during those first weeks in Anglesey with George. Over the years, the Duchess has touched on the difficulties she experienced as a new mother. Being back in Wales today for the survey launch felt like the right time to elaborate more.
Kate said: "It’s nice to be back in Wales. I was chatting to some of the mums. It was the first year and I’d just had George - William was still working with search and rescue and we came up here and I had a tiny, tiny baby in the middle of Anglesey. It was so isolated, so cut off. I didn’t have any family around, and he was doing night shifts. If only I had had a center like this." I think it's so important for the royals to share their own experiences, it also offers a wider understanding of Kate's interest in this area.
'The mom of three was visiting the innovative Ely and Careau Children’s Centre in an economically challenged area of the Welsh capital, where parents can get support as well as enroll their kids into the kindergarten.
“I see amazing work you’re doing here in so many areas,” she said. “It’s just bringing it to light. The critical work you’re doing has a massive social — and economic — impact later down the years.
One of the center’s workers talked about how they tried to accommodate the concerns of parents who have questions raising their kids “this way or that way.” Kate said with a smile, “That’s why I wanted to do the survey. Unless parents are supported, it makes the job that much harder.”
Kate heard first-hand about the support the centre provides.
And enjoyed speaking to several mums and their babies.
This little one was excited to show Kate around :)
During a visit to the children's playhouse 'Cath's Cottage'.
Kate said she loved it adding, "It's their own little world".
People's Simon Perry heard a special conversation between the Duchess and a little boy named River.
'Earlier, she met little River Rowson, 3, who was playing greengrocers with some pals. He was showing her some Brussels Sprouts and Broccoli. “Are you cooking too?” she asked as he offered some vegetables. “Are you going to make a stir fry?”
River clearly liked his new pal. “You’re my friend,” he told her, to which Kate replied, “You’re my friend too.”
There's plenty of footage from the conversation and the entire visit in the video below.
Afterwards, Kate returned to HMP Send women's prison in Surrey.
In 2015, the Duchess visited HMP Send to meet a group of women to discuss their experiences and the role addiction played in their lives. Following the visit, Kate said "I was reminded today how addictions lie at the heart of so many social issues and how substance misuse can play such destructive role in vulnerable people's lives. I saw again today that a failure to intervene early in life to tackle mental health problems and other challenges can have profound consequences for people throughout their lives. I am grateful to the women I met for sharing their difficult personal stories with me. It is encouraging to learn how organisations like RAPt are offering specialist support to help people break the cycle of addiction and look forward to a positive and crime free life."
Today, Kate reunited with some of the women she met almost five years ago to discuss how they are rebuilding their families.
Kate learned about the work of The Forward Trust and their efforts supporting clients to improve their relationships and often times reconnect with their children.
Over tea and cake, they discussed the challenges and hardships on families when a parent is in prison.
Kate asked the group how much their experiences as adults were influenced by their childhood. Several of the women immediately replied "all of it".
More from The Telegraph:
'During a later visit to Send Prison, near Woking in Surrey, Kate talked to prisoners who trace their history of offending and addiction back to troubled childhoods involving domestic violence, absent parents, drug and alcohol abuse.
“It really shocked me when I came here last time how early the challenges were that you faced,” the Duchess told a group of ex-offenders, including three women she met in 2015 when they were serving sentences.
One prisoner, Francesca, told Kate that the prison’s 12-step drug treatment programme had changed her life, adding: “Coming to jail is one of the best things that has ever happened to me.”
The Duchess smiled and said: “It's so often I hear that. Why does it have to get to that point before people receive the help and support?"
Send houses around 280 prisoners, with a higher proportion of prisoners serving life for murder than any other prison.
Former inmates include the Duchess of York's former hairdresser, Jane Andrews, who murdered her boyfriend.
A refresher on the questions in the survey:
What do you believe is most important for children growing up in the UK today to live a happy adult life. Rank from most important to least important.
• Good physical and mental health
• Good friendships and relationships
• Access to opportunities
• Access to a good education
Which of these statements is closest to your opinion?
• It is primarily the responsibility of parents to give children aged 0-5 the best chance of health and happiness
• It is primarily the responsibility of others in society to give children aged 0-5 the best chance of health and happiness
• It is the shared responsibility of parents and others in society to give children aged 0-5 the best chance of health and happiness
• Don’t know
How much do you agree or disagree with this statement: The mental health and wellbeing of parents and carers has a great impact on the development of their child(ren)?
• Strongly agree
• Tend to agree
• Neither agree nor disagree
• Tend to disagree
• Strongly disagree
Which of the following is closest to your opinion of what influences how children develop from the start of pregnancy to age 5?
• Mostly the traits a child is born with (i.e. nature)
• Mostly the experiences of a child in the early years (i.e. nurture)
• Both nature and nurture equally
• Don’t know
Which period of a child and young person’s life do you think is the most important for health and happiness in adulthood?
• Start of pregnancy to 5 years
• 5-11 years (primary school)
• 11-16 years (secondary school)
• 16-18 years (further education)
• 18-24 years (young adulthood)
• Don’t know
• All equally important
Is there anything else you would like to tell us about your views on the early years of childhood?
Click here to visit the 5 Big Questions website.
The Duchess was stylish in a separates look in camel, brown and black tones.
Kate wore Massimo Dutti's Limited Edition Buttoned Coat in camel (with thanks to Caroline Parr). The garment is described as: "Classic, sophisticated and with a flattering silhouette for the feminine figure, this camel-coloured coat made of natural fibres will be an essential piece this season. Tailored coat made of wool and cashmere. Featuring a slim fit, peak lapels, double-breasted button fastening, two flap pockets, long sleeves with four-button cuffs, a back vent and lining."
Kate wore a black turtleneck sweater with an animal print skirt by ZARA. The flowing midi skirt with faux leather waistband was on sale for just £10 before selling out.
Kate's boots are thought to be a past season Ralph Lauren style.
Kate wore her sold out Accessorize earrings.
And a new gold medallion style necklace with G, C and L engraved on it.
The piece is by British brand Daniella Draper (with many thanks to Middleton Maven). The Personalised Gold Midnight Moon Necklace is a classic piece. It has sentimental value with the children's initials engraved and today was a lovely occasion to debut it. I expect it was a gift over Christmas or Kate's recent birthday. It's available for £,1070.
I'm looking forward to seeing the results. Did you participate in the survey? I'm very much hoping we see more day tours like this. I found the trip to Wales particularly interesting as William and Kate will be Prince and Princess of Wales when Charles is King. I'd love to see a 'Wales Week' every year, perhaps over the summer when the children are on holidays. It would be a wonderful opportunity to highlights some of the fantastic charitable organisations, explore areas of interest in depth there and continue to nurture a lasting relationship with the country.