The King County Council on Tuesday approved the 2021-22 King County Biennial Budget, the second significant budget passed in the past two weeks by the Council to provide relief for childcare and mental health services.
As the world enters the ninth month of the Coronavirus pandemic, the burgeoning mental health crisis is becoming an epidemic within a pandemic and the need for enhanced health protections are straining childcare services. Today, the King County Council approved the 2021-22 King County Biennial Budget, the second significant budget passed in the past two weeks by the Council to provide relief for childcare and mental health services.
“Access to mental health and substance use disorder services constitutes a key component of healthy communities,” said King County Council Chair Claudia Balducci. “But as the pandemic accelerated the need for these critical services, the economic crisis threatened its funding and I’m proud that the King County Council has been able to restore necessary funds to continue providing immediate support to those who most need it as we battle the COVID-19 pandemic.”
In response to the Executive’s proposed budget that included $5 million in reductions to the Mental Illness and Drug Dependency (MIDD) fund due to declines in sales tax revenue, Balducci successfully advocated for the restoration of $2 million.
Key mental health investments restored in the 2021-22 biennial budget include: opioid treatment, children’s domestic violence response, screening for children so they can connect with needed services, sexual assault and community behavioral health treatment.
Passed by Council last week, the final $46.7 million of emergency Federal funding to support the local response to the COVID-19 pandemic included funds to improve pandemic safety in select childcare centers across King County.
“The pandemic has devastated families in many ways, including by making our shortage of quality childcare far worse,” Balducci said. “This has a disproportionate impact: People of color are more likely to be essential workers who need childcare while they provide many critical services we all need. Women are more likely to have to take on extra duties of childcare and at-home learning and are seeing themselves forced out of the workforce in alarming numbers. I want to thank my colleagues on the County Council for supporting my proposal to keep quality childcare afloat during these challenging times. With the additional funding, the YMCA and Boys and Girls Club of King County and Bellevue will be able to continue to provide a safe, nurturing place for children to play and learn.”
The fifth emergency supplemental budget includes Balducci’s request for $1 million to support the YMCA of Greater Seattle, Boys and Girls Club of King County, and Boys and Girls Club of Bellevue for supplies to keep children safe as the organizations provide high quality childcare. This funding will help those organizations pay for critical supplies and COVID-19 safety upgrades, including personal protective equipment (PPE) and facility safety improvements.