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Building on the deep knowledge, connections, and skills within King County communities, and backed by what science and research tells us about human development, Best Starts for Kids meets children and families with the right services at the right time. The first Best Starts for Kids levy, approved by King County voters in 2015, reached 490,000 of King County’s youngest children and their families and 40,000 youth and young adults, catalyzing strong starts in a child’s earliest years, and sustaining those gains through to adulthood.

In August 2021, King County voters chose to renew the levy with over 62% approval for another six years. The plan for Best Starts for Kids 2.0 will maintain current Best Starts for Kids investments in promotion, prevention, and early intervention, while deepening our investments to address critical needs in our community. View the Best Starts for Kids Implementation Plan: 2022 - 2027 here.

Happy, healthy, safe and thriving

Best Starts for Kids focuses on eight investment areas that prioritize promoting positive outcomes for kids, preventing negative outcomes, intervening early when kids and families need support, and building on community strengths.

Best Starts invests early to support pregnant and parenting families, infants, very young children, and caregivers during the critical first five years of life with a robust system of support services and resources that meet families where they are— at home, in the community, and wherever children are cared for. These investments support King County families in meeting their basic needs, connect families to services, and care for the well-being of young children and their families. 

Strategies
Maternal and Child Health Services provide a range of vital supports at home, clinic, and community settings to pregnant individuals and parenting families.
Home-Based Services provides relationship-based support to expecting parents and parents of children aged birth to five in the places they live.
Community-Based Parenting Supports(CBPS) provides community-centered, peer-based services to pregnant individuals, parents, and caregivers of children aged birth to five.
Early Support for Infants and Toddlers (ESIT) promotes equitable outcomes for families with children, aged birth to three, who have developmental delays or disabilities.
Universal Developmental Screening provides information, training, tools, and connections among providers to ensure all King County children receive culturally appropriate, high-quality developmental screening throughout early childhood.
Child Care Health Consultation (CCHC) promotes the health, safety, and development of children and caregivers in child care settings.
Systems Building for Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health focuses on improving social and emotional outcomes of young children aged birth to five.
Workforce Development provides training, technical assistance, and peer learning opportunities to build the knowledge and skills of early childhood practitioners.
Innovation Supports leverages the expertise and creativity of community to design, develop, and lead effective programs and interventions serving children aged birth to five and their families.
Help Me Grow empowers families to support their children’s healthby connecting them to what they need, when and how they need it.
Environmental Supports: Lead and Toxics builds on this leadership to prevent childhood lead poisoning, identify and reduce exposures to environmental toxics, and equitably improve health outcomes.

 

Best Starts for Kids sustains the gains made in early childhood through investments in school and community-based opportunities to for kids and young adults to learn, grow, and develop through childhood and adolescence into adulthood. Best Starts for Kids provides a children and youth in King County with a foundation for lifelong health and well-being through community leadership opportunities, youth development and mentorship, school-based services, supports outside of school time, tailored education and employment opportunities, and resources for families. 

Strategies
Expanded Learning provides high-quality and culturally responsive programming to children and youth, including access to a range of activities from academic enrichment to cultural and social development activities, recreation, physical activity and health promotion, arts education, and leadership skills.
Youth Development invests in mentoring, leadership and positive identity development, and opportunities to learn how to develop healthy and safe relationships (including domestic violence prevention and peer to peer support).
SB:SBIRT School-Based Screening and Brief Intervention and for Referral to Treatment/Services provides prevention, outreach, and early intervention to address mental health and substance use impacts during the critical middle and high school years.
School-Based Health Centers provide comprehensive medical, mental health, and dental services in school settings to children and adolescents who are often underserved by the medical community.
Liberation and Healing (formerly known as Trauma-Informed Restorative Practices) addresses community trauma and its impacts on young people by promoting strengths-based social and emotional supports.
Positive Family Connections strengthen parent-to-parent engagement, kinship care relationships, intergenerational and cultural heritage bonds, restorative practices, personal development for young people and parents/caregivers, and the connections among these family members.
Healthy and Safe Environments funds community partners empowering youth to transform systems, environments, and policies to decrease and prevent continued inequity in their communities.
Stopping the School-to-Prison Pipeline (SSPP) invests in direct service programs as an alternative to harmful punitive legal measures, and drives policy and systems change work to shift the current juvenile legal system.
Transitions to Adulthood helps young people who face major barriers to meet their education and employment goals.
Child and Adolescent Immunizations addresses systemic barriers to vaccine delivery, and communities’ emergent and changing basic healthcare needs by gathering key stakeholders and implementing quality improvement in pediatric healthcare.

 

Child Care Subsidy Program & Workforce Demonstration Project 

Best Starts for Kids funding provides a new opportunity for King County to lead in strengthening child care as critical infrastructure. Best Starts will partner with one or more intermediaries to administer subsidies to expand access to child care at licensed centers or family child care sites for approximately 3,000 children aged birth to 12 and their families. The proposed Best Starts for Kids Workforce Demonstration Project will allocate at least $5 million annually to provide a salary supplement to up to 1,400 low-paid child care providers working with children aged birth to 12 in King County.

 

 

The Best Starts Youth and Family Homelessness Prevention Initiative (YFHPI) assists young people and families with children at imminent risk of homelessness to remain housed through an innovative approach that includes providing flexible funds and intensive case management, including assistance with securing long-term stable housing. Since 2017, Best Starts for Kids’ Youth and Family Homelessness Prevention Initiative served over 10,200 youth and families at risk of losing their housing—96 percent of those completing the program remained housed one year after completing the program.

 

 



 

The Communities Matter investments strengthens the communities our kids grow up in by supporting local communities as they build their own capacity to create positive change. Communities of Opportunity is a partnership between King County and The Seattle Foundation that has collaborated with 150 organizations to create more than 241 new community partnerships and build the skills and capacity of approximately 2,500 people serving in leadership positions. 

Strategies
Partnerships in place-based and cultural communities supporting local solutions
Policies and systems change for racial, economic, and health equity
Capacity building in community-based groups, testing innovative models and leveraging collective knowledge to accelerate change

 

The Best Starts for Kids 2.0 Capital Grants Program will provide contracts for building repairs, renovations and new construction or expansion to improve access to high quality programs and services for low-income children, youth, families and Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC). The program will focus on equitable community-driven development to ensure projects are aligned with and serve the community’s needs. Eligible projects may include, but are not limited to, recreational, early learning, and child care facilities and housing for youth, young adults, and families

As directed by Ordinance 19267, funding will be available for capital contracts when Best Starts levy revenues are anticipated above $822 million. Revenue forecasts will be evaluated annually to determine the amount of funding available. If projections are less, then the Capital Grants Program will be reduced accordingly.




Best Starts actively engages communities in data and evaluation county-wide efforts to understand what is working well for County’s children, youth, young adults and families, to interpret and provide context for the data, and to define success for programs.

See more data about Best Starts for Kids impact

 

Best Starts recognizes that many organizations, and the communities they serve, have historically experienced barriers to funding opportunities from government agencies such as King County. To address this, Best Starts provides free technical assistance to remove linguistic, cultural, and procedural obstacles that might prevent qualified organizations from seeking Best Starts funding.

View Best Starts Technical assistance here.

Capacity Building Support is available to Best Starts partners to provide and co-create information, tools, and resources to strengthen their infrastructure, address service gaps, and build capacity. Capacity builders offer individualized, responsive coaching and training to support organizations’ capabilities.



Contact Us

Phone 206-263-9105

TTY Relay: 711

Fax: 206-296-5260