Council receives State of County Address that highlights efforts to provide resources to County youth
StoryMembers of the Metropolitan King County Council joined County Executive Dow Constantine today in stressing that a priority for County government is ensuring that young people growing up in King County have the resources they need to be successful.
The Council hosted a special meeting at the Federal Way Community Center where Executive Constantine presented his State of the County address to councilmembers and the public. Constantine stressed the efforts already underway in King County and discussed his Best Starts for Kids initiative, which will stress investment in proven strategies to help divert youth from the issues that can lead to poor health, abuse and involvement in the criminal justice system.
“We were honored to host County Executive Dow Constantine today at our special meeting of the County Council as he gave our annual State of the County address,” said Council Chair Larry Phillips. “We know that effective investments in children and youth help them to lead full and productive lives as adults, as well as decrease the numbers of people in our criminal justice system later in life. I look forward to reviewing his ‘Best Starts for Kids’ proposal, and what can be accomplished on their behalf.”
“The circumstances of one’s birth should not pre-determine a child’s health outcomes or opportunity,” said Council Vice Chair Joe McDermott. “Best Starts for Kids will address this growing inequity, which I look forward to reviewing in the Budget & Fiscal Management Committee.”
“This proposal is grounded in the Council’s Youth Action Plan,” said Council Vice Chair Jane Hague. “The voters will be expecting an investment in outcomes, transparency and oversight.”
“Programs discussed by Executive Constantine today highlight the social needs we face as King County Councilmembers,” said Councilmember Pete von Reichbauer, whose district hosted the address. “One important process of the council is to continue to reach out to the community through meetings outside of the County Courthouse.”
The County Council is also focused on meeting the objective within the King County Strategic Plan to “promote opportunities for all communities and individuals to realize their full potential,” through their development of the Youth Action Plan (YAP). The goal of the YAP is to develop an accountable, integrated delivery system of services to achieve the best outcomes for children, families, youth and young adults.
“The Executive has prepared a blueprint on how to address the challenges of the growing inequalities impacting low income communities and communities of color,” said Councilmember Larry Gossett. “I hope the Council and the Executive can work together to further the development of the blueprint so that in the long range King County can lessen the impact of inequality in all our communities.”
“This six year plan will bring dollars in for prevention. The programs will be based on brain research in setting youth and young adults on course for helping them develop to their full potential,” said Councilmember Kathy Lambert. “The hope is to have less future demands on our mental health, drug, alcohol and human services programs. The goal is to have each child prepared to learn, able to stay in school and functioning as a productive member of our community. This will save resources in the long run and improve the lives of our citizens.”
“The executive has made an ambitious proposal for a dedicated, targeted investment in King County's kids,” said Councilmember Rod Dembowski. “With smart early investments, we can earn the dividends of improved health and safety, lower criminal justice and chronic health care treatment expenses, and reduced disparities.”
“I’m looking forward to reviewing the proposal presented by the County Executive today at the State of the County,” said Councilmember Reagan Dunn.
Councilmembers said they are ready to work with the Executive to ensure collaboration in developing the programs and finding the resources needed to provide every young person the tools they need to achieve their goals.
The Executive stressed that while the state of the County is strong, there are great challenges that impact all residents, the greatest being the shrinking middle class and the growing income disparities within the County.
The Executive said King County’s strength is the innovative minds that help create and grow companies like Costco, Boeing and Starbucks. To ensure the next generation continues that tradition, the County must provide the resources that young people need to thrive.
The Executive called Best Starts for Kids a holistic effort to ensure that all kids—regardless of color, income or location—have the opportunity to achieve their goals. Executive Constantine said to aid this effort he will be sending to the Council legislation placing before voters a 6-year levy to support the effort.