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Council committee approves blueprint for Best Starts for Kids


Implementation Plan for voter approved levy sent to full Council


The Metropolitan King County Council’s Health, Housing and Human Services Committee has unanimously sent to the full Council, with a “do-pass” recommendation, the plan for funding the programs that will be part of the voter-approved Best Starts for Kids (BSK) program. Best Starts for Kids is the prevention-oriented regional plan aimed at supporting the healthy development of children and youth, families and communities across the county.

The Council Leadership Team for Best Starts for Kids, and all Councilmembers serving on the Health, Housing and Human Services Committee for the purposes of the Best Starts for Kids General Implementation Plan, have worked to strengthen the transmitted plan in a variety of ways, including:

• Adding statements of intent by the County to foster and support the participation of organizations and community members from communities facing challenges across King County; and
• Adding clarity on the way the Communities of Opportunity will deliver on a vision to reduce disparities and improve the ability of all communities to perform well on health and well-being indicators. Communities of Opportunity is a program strategy based on the latest research regarding the impact of place on individual and population health and well-being outcomes; it builds on a partnership between King County and The Seattle Foundation and supports local communities in building their own capacity to creative positive change.

“I’m pleased that the revised implementation plan will now go to the full council,” said Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles, Chair of the Health, Housing and Human Services Committee. “This program was approved last year by a huge majority of voters, who recognized the need to invest in the future of our children and communities. Kudos to Executive Constantine for spearheading this important initiative.”

“Securing funds for preventative Health and Human Services was my top priority when coming to the County Council,” said Council Vice Chair Rod Dembowski. “Today’s action by the Council’s HHHS Committee marks a significant milestone for our collective work to improve opportunities for King County’s children and youth. I’m grateful for the strong community partnership that brought us to this happy day.”

“In the past year I’ve heard from folks living in District 9 rural areas during a variety of community forums,” said Council Vice Chair Reagan Dunn. “I am glad that today’s legislative action includes rural areas as a future Best Starts for Kids investment opportunity.”

Approved by voters in 2015, Best Start for Kids supports the healthy development of children and youth, families and communities across the county. The funds generated by the levy are focused on providing services at key moments in children’s brain development: prenatal through early childhood, and again in adolescence.

“I’m really pleased with the work that’s been done on Best Starts for Kids and I believe at the end of this levy’s six years that we will have many successes in helping young people as well as valuable data and experience which will be a national model,” said Councilmember Kathy Lambert. “The Best Starts for Kids plan has included a much needed focus in our county’s rural areas so the children and youth living in these parts of the county can also get the help they need.”

“The plan will guide big new investments in King County's kids and families,” said Councilmember Dave Upthegrove. “The focus on helping small and diverse organizations will be great for South King County.”

The Best Starts for Kids levy ordinance adopted by the Council called for the County Executive to develop and present to the Council a plan identifying funding strategies and outcomes for programs that receive Best Starts for Kids funds. Those funds are to be distributed as follows:

• 50 percent of levy proceeds for the Invest Early Allocation (0-5 year olds);
• 35 percent for the Sustain the Gain Allocation (5-24 year olds);
• 10 percent for the Communities Matter Allocation (Communities of Opportunity); and
• 5 percent for the Outcomes-Focused and Data-Driven Allocation.

“By passing the Best Starts for Kids levy, the voters agreed to embark upon a unique and ambitious effort to change the trajectory of our community by investing in our youngest residents and their futures,” said Councilmember Claudia Balducci. “Today, the Council took a major step toward implementing this new program in ways that will address the challenging and changing needs of all of our youth today and into the future.”

This spring, the Council adopted an Implementation Plan for the $19 million Youth and Family Homelessness Prevention Initiative, the first major program created as part of Best Starts for Kids. The Best Starts for Kids General Implementation Plan puts forward a framework for spending an estimated $379 million, the remainder of the estimated collections over the life of the levy.

The Implementation Plan is targeted to achieve three key results across the strategy areas set forth in the Best Starts for Kids levy ordinance:

• Babies are born healthy and establish a strong foundation for lifelong health and well-being,
• King County is a place where everyone has equitable opportunities to be safe and healthy as they progress through childhood, building academic and life skills to be thriving members of their communities,
• Communities offer safe, welcoming and healthy environments that help improve outcomes for all of King County’s children and families, regardless of where they live.

The legislation has been sent to the full County Council for discussion and possible action at the Council’s September 19 meeting.

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