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County Council approves first program from Best Starts for Kids Levy


King County Council approves implementation plan for the Youth and Family Homelessness Prevention Initiative, working to prevent and divert children and their families from becoming homeless.


The Metropolitan King County Council today unanimously adopted an implementation plan for the Youth and Family Homelessness Prevention Initiative, the first major program to be developed through the voter adopted Best Starts for Kids (BSK) Levy.

“This legislation will serve the mother who flees with her children from an abusive spouse,” said Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles, chair of the Council’s Health Housing and Human Services Committee and sponsor of the legislation. “It will also ensure that a person who is a survivor of human trafficking, or the young person who has ‘aged out’ of the foster care system ¬or has been released from the juvenile justice system now has a place to turn when facing the possibility of homelessness.”

“The plan approved today will help meet the unique needs of families who are facing homelessness, preventing them from becoming homeless in the first place. This will spare children from the fear and uncertainty that has shown to severely impact their long-term brain development which will help to ensure that children across our region reach their fullest potential,” said Council Chair Joe McDermott. “This is an evidence-based, responsible solution to the homelessness crisis our region’s facing.”

The Youth and Family Homelessness Prevention (YFHP) Initiative is intended to prevent and divert children and youth and their families from becoming homeless. It will be modeled on the Washington State Domestic Violence Housing First program, a program that successfully helped women and children fleeing domestic violence avoid homelessness.

The YFHP Initiative will provide a combination of:

• Mobile case managers who will help at-risk youth and families address the reasons they are at risk for homelessness and develop a plan to stabilize; and
• Flexible funding to meet client needs (for child care, rental assistance, etc.).

“The adopted plan is the result of valuable input from my fellow Councilmembers in identifying and addressing the populations at most imminent risk of homelessness and how to best serve these their specific needs,” said Kohl-Welles. “We now have a roadmap to move forward and immediately begin the process of delivering these client-centered services where they are needed most, such that the family or youth will be asked? ‘What do you need so that you do not become homeless?’ ”

The Council is separately considering an ordinance to appropriate funds to the YFHP Initiative so that it can begin operations later this year.
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