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New priorities for County’s Children and Youth


County Council receives recommendations from Youth Task Force


In January of 2014, the Metropolitan King County Council unanimously passed legislation calling for the development of a Youth Action Plan to set King County’s priorities for serving its young people. The Youth Action Plan (YAP) presented to the Council today calls for a new set of priorities for how the County serves its infants to 24 year olds.

“Kids should be empowered to achieve their full potential, not be held back by their circumstances,” said Councilmember Rod Dembowski, who sponsored the legislation calling for the creation of a Youth Action Plan. “The Youth Action Plan represents the best thinking of children and youth advocates countywide to ensure that all kids in King County can achieve their full potential. The plan provides a blueprint to reform how we invest in kids at King County, and lights the path for potential new investments of resources to achieve the plan's vision for our kids.”

The Council initiated the development of the YAP, with the goal of ensuring that King County’s Strategic Plan objective to “promote opportunities for all communities and individuals to realize their full potential,” is applied to the County’s children and youth and reflected across all County departments, programs, and initiatives. The goal of the YAP was to set the County’s priorities for an accountable, integrated delivery system of services to achieve the best outcomes for children, families, youth and young adults.

Development of the YAP was completed by an appointed task force of twenty-five experts representing a broad range of organizations and entities with substantial expertise and knowledge relevant to children and youth. Community input was collected through 5 community conversations held across the county, and through a survey of more than 1,000 youth. The 9 recommendations presented to the County today are the culmination of the task force’s work over the past year.

”The diverse youth and families of our community are King County's greatest and most promising asset,” said Dr. Kelly Goodsell, Executive Director, Learning, Teaching & Family Support, Puget Sound Education School District (PSESD). “It is critical to make an early investment in youth with strategic support provided throughout their educational journey. This report provides important guidance for how the County services can be prioritized to best support citizens from birth through adulthood.”

While the task force found that King County has much to be proud of regarding its support for youth and children, its recommendations point to a need for new priorities and a better way of doing business. The fundamental principles outlined in the YAP are the first indicator that the County must change its current practices – policy development, services, and programming should intentionally incorporate youth and the voices of the people impacted in authentic and meaningful ways.

“The success of this Plan will come from breaking down silos, and moving beyond one-size fits all solutions. We applaud the Youth Action Plan Task Force for engaging with youth throughout the County - from Shoreline to Snoqualmie Valley, from Kirkland to Kent,” said Deanna Dawson, Executive Director of the Sound Cities Association, who represents 36 cities in King County. “This is particularly critical today given the growing suburbanization of poverty in King County, and the associated challenges for youth in communities outside Seattle, where there are currently fewer programs and less access to resources.”

“It was truly a pleasure serving with so many dedicated individuals on the Youth Task force,” said Mahnaz Kourouriam Eshetu, Executive Director of Refugee Women’s Alliance. “Early interaction is the key to decrease growing inequalities in the communities of color. My hope is that the hard work of Councilmember Rod Dembowski and the task force results in developing strategies by the County for equitable allocation of funds and resources to strengthen and stabilize families, children, youth and young adults.”

Additional recommendations include investing early to shift the pendulum from reactive to proactive funding, revisiting current allocations of dedicated funding streams, and utilizing the County’s regional role to act as collaborator and convener. The 9 recommendations in the Plan include:

• Social Justice and Equity
• Strengthen and Stabilize Families, and Children, Youth and Young Adults
• Stop the School to Prison Pipeline
• Bust Silos/We’re Better Together
• Get Smart About Data
• Invest Early, Invest Often and Invest in Outcomes
• Accountability
• Youth Bill of Rights
• Evaluation and Reporting/Process and Implementation Timeline

As noted in Executive Constantine’s September 2014 budget speech, the Youth Action Plan inspired the discussion and development of a potential funding mechanism known as Best Starts for Kids (BSK). The visions of the YAP and BSK are aligned, and the YAP’s recommendations provide the guidance and framework for addressing the allocation of additional revenue. The Task Force expects Best Starts for Kids to be transmitted by the Executive to the Council later this spring.

The Council’s Committee of the Whole will hold the first hearing on the recommendations of the Youth Action Plan Task Force at its Wednesday, May 20 meeting.


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Read the final Youth Action Plan (10MB, PDF)

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