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Have a question about Best Starts for Kids and funding opportunities? We may have an answer for you below! If you can't find your answer here, please email us at Best.Starts@kingcounty.gov.

If you have a question about a specific open funding opportunity, please submit your question through the Contact Admin tab in ZoomGrants prior to the date and time indicated in the request for proposal (RFP) document. Responses to all questions received will be posted as an RFP addendum on ZoomGrants 

Best Starts for Kids

Best Starts for Kids (Best Starts) is King County’s community-driven initiative to support every baby born and child raised in King County to be happy, healthy, safe, and thriving. Initially approved by voters in 2015 and in place since 2016, Best Starts invests in comprehensive supports for children, youth, young adults, and families and caregivers, catalyzing strong starts in early childhood, and sustaining those gains as children progress to adulthood.

 

Best Starts was renewed by voters in August 2021 and our implementation for the renewed levy (2022-2027) is guided by the Best Starts for Kids Implementation Plan, approved by the King County Council in November 2021.

 

Learn more about Best Starts for Kids here.

Our approach is grounded in promotion, prevention, early intervention and policy and systems change. 

By promoting positive outcomes for children, intervening early when kids and families need support, and building on family and community strengths, Best Starts launches King County’s young people on a path to lifelong health and well-being. Since 2016, the initiative has pursued three overarching results:

1. Babies are born healthy and given a foundation for a happy, healthy life.

2. Young people have equitable opportunities to be safe, healthy, and thriving.

3. Communities offer safe, welcoming environments for their kids.


The first Best Starts for Kids levy 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

View our first levy outcomes one-pager to learn more.


Best Starts for Kids 2.0 (2021-2027) will maintain current investments in promotion, prevention, and early intervention, and deepen investments to address critical need in our communities. We will maintain programs across four investment areas:

  • Invest Early: Programs for pregnant parents and children prenatal to age five
  • Sustain the Gain: Programs for children, youth and young adults age five to 24
  • Communities of Opportunity
  • Youth and Family Homelessness Prevention Initiative (YFHPI)

The levy will also build upon what we are doing to deepen investments in school age children, youth, and young adults, including:

  • New child care investments:
    • A new child care subsidy program to make child care more affordable for more than 3,000 low-income families
    • A new workforce demonstration project for low-wage child care workers

  • Expansion of out of school time programs for school-age children
  • Up to 4 new centers that provide social, emotional, mental and physical health supports for young people
  • Expansion of transitions to adulthood programs for youth and young adults

    View the Best Starts for Kids Implementation Plan: 2022 - 2027 here.

 

Application Process

The best way to hear about upcoming funding opportunities and other Best Starts events and news is to subscribe to our blog and newsletter:

  • Subscribe to our blog here
  • Subscribe to our newsletter on the right side of this webpage here to receive new funding opportunity notices and our monthly community newsletter

You can also follow us on Twitter (@BestStartsKC) and Facebook for the latest updates!

To see what funding opportunities are open, upcoming, and closed, check out our calendar here.


Free application support, known as technical assistance (TA), is available for organizations interested in applying for Best Starts funding opportunities! In partnership with a Best Starts TA consultant, they can support you prepare your application. Here are some of the ways they can support:

  • Helping to determine appropriate fit between your work and this funding opportunity
  • Providing guidance on how best to answer application questions
  • Supporting your application development -- including editing and reviewing
  • Helping to explain your qualifications in the most clear and concise way

If you are interested in partnering with a technical assistance consultant, learn more here.

There are three ways to ask questions about an open RFP:

  1. Attend an information session to ask your question during the virtual event. Check the RFP details to see when the info session details. All questions and answers asked will be posted in the Q&A section on Zoomgrants for all to access.
  2. Directly email the RFP Lead – you can find their contact information on the funding opportunity’s ZoomGrants page.
  3. Submit your question through ZoomGrants.

If you would like support with your RFP, please reach out to a technical assistance consultant. See the question above for more information.

All documents to be submitted in response to this RFP should be uploaded through the application platform, ZoomGrants.

We encourage you to double check the application deadline and submit your application through ZoomGrants early! If you are experiencing any technical difficulties, please reach out to ZoomGrants as noted on each RFP early in the process. If the issue cannot be addressed through ZoomGrants, then reach out to the RFP lead.

To ensure that applicants are equally evaluated, we cannot accept any applications submitted past the application deadline.


Best Starts values the use of multiple sources of data and information. While the use of data resources is not required, we have compiled some King County data resources to assure equal access to information. Indicators identified for Best Starts, including data on many issues related to children, youth, and families with breakdowns for geographic and racial/ethnic communities, can be found here.

You can also find more data about King County on the Communities Count website.


Partnering with Best Starts

Each RFP will have explicit funding levels and funding available. Please carefully read each RFP – some will be considered "mini grants" (under $10k), and some will have larger amounts awarded. In general, Best Starts awards multi-year contracts. See what funding opportunities are open, upcoming, and closed here.



Yes! For-profit organizations can apply unless it specifically states in the RFP that they are not eligible.


The County runs on a biennium, the current biennium ends 2022. The fiscal year is the calendar year.



Each RFP will explicitly state the award range available.

Best Starts is partnering with intermediary organizations to disburse funding for two strategies — ParentChild+ and Expanded Learning — and one investment area  Communities of Opportunity (COO). We partner closely with the intermediary organizations to ensure that equity and racial justice grounds our collective work and develop the funding strategy and distribution of funds.



In general, Best Starts for Kids funding opportunities will be competitively bid.

For the most part, the funding opportunities will be Request for proposals (RFPs), with some Request for qualifications (RFQs) and mini grants depending on the strategy and funding goals.


Yes. Best Starts strives to release our RFPs in a timely, staggered manner so that organizations are not overwhelmed with applying to multiple funding opportunities all at once. Receiving an award in one area of work does not exclude you from eligibility in another area.


In general, Best Starts will fund both existing and new programs. Please read the specifics of each RFP carefully.



All applicants applying to a Best Starts opportunity will be evaluated according to the scoring criteria included in the RFP. Please read the scoring criteria in each RFP carefully to understand what the reviewers will be reading for in the proposals. 

In general, Best Starts welcomes applications from individual organizations as well as collaborations among multiple partners. Neither type will be given preference except where specified in the RFP. Please read the RFP carefully to learn about its specific details.



Joint applicants can demonstrate their partnership by clearly describing the work they have done together, what work they plan to do together, and/or the roles each one will take in their proposed work. We encourage you to demonstrate this in the proposed budget and clearly lay out where and how the funding will be distributed. Letters of support are welcome and may be required if partnering with school districts. Please read the RFP details carefully to learn about its specific details.



No evaluation plan is required for the proposal. The Best Starts for Kids Data and Evaluation team and program staff will work with grantees after funding decisions are made to develop an evaluation plan.


Best Starts seeks diverse perspectives for its RFP review panels, including community leaders, parents, and youth. We recognize the importance of bringing to the decision-making process the unique insights and lived experiences of people who come from and work in their communities, especially people of color. Best Starts is requiring all review panelists, including King County staff and Best Starts Children and Youth Advisory Board members, to participate in a launch meeting to learn and discuss how bias, assumptions, and equity issues can affect how candidates are evaluated in order to consciously strive to minimize biases and assumptions throughout the decision-making process.


Best Starts views its relationship with awardees as an ongoing partnership characterized by respect and mutual learning. Best Starts staff meet with awarded organizations to build relationships and agree upon budget details, data gathering, performance measures and evaluation, all the while identifying capacity building needs so that Best Starts can support the organization to accomplish its work.

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Capacity builders are consultants funded by Best Starts who offer individualized, responsive coaching and training to Best Starts partners! Best Starts matches organizations with capacity builders according to their needs - this relational approach provides 1:1 support for our partners.

Areas of support include financial management, human resources, data and evaluation, IT, marketing, board governance, equity and social justice, legal services, needs assessments, and organizational development. 

If you are currently funded by Best Starts for Kids and interested in partnering with a capacity builder, please contact the Best Starts for Kids program manager for your strategy or complete this request form. For organizations interested in applying for funding opportunities, technical assistance is available to help navigate the process.

Learn more about capacity building and meet our capacity builders here!



Data and Evaluation

To learn more about population level change, please visit this pageTo learn more about program performance measures, please visit this page.

 

Some RFPs may name specific indicators it aims to address. We encourage you to incorporate those indicators you will address in your proposal. County staff will also share the appropriate indicators at RFP bidders’ conferences. Most RFPs offer a recorded webinar bidders’ conference in case you are unable to attend one in person. We value all kinds of data, from numbers to stories. If you think your work will address an indicator we did not mention, we want to know that too!

 

Once grantees have been identified and contracts have been developed, program staff and the evaluation team will collaborate with grantees to decide on performance measures and an evaluation plan appropriate for their funded activities and time frame. You may be able to utilize data you are already reporting on. 


 

No. Grantees will not be held accountable for changing headline or secondary indicators for the entire population in King County. However, some indicators may also be used as performance measures (e.g., early and adequate prenatal care) and if appropriate, an awardee may be held accountable for meeting standards among the population they are directly serving.


 

There will be Best Starts evaluation staff present at each bidders’ conference to answer questions. You can also email bsk.data@kingcounty.gov or contact the contracted Best Starts providers for technical assistance.



 

We ask that applicants think about how to dedicate up to 10% of your budget towards staff time or costs needed for evaluation activities. We want to partner to collect useful data and understand what it all means, and we know this takes resources. For example: developing the evaluation plan in collaboration with King County, entering needed data, reporting progress quarterly, and potentially participating in peer learning and continuous quality improvement activities.



 

If applicants feel that software for data collection is essential to meeting their goals, the organization may include this in the budget. However, please ensure that there are adequate funds for implementing selected strategies and meeting program deliverables. There is no expectation for grantees to purchase a data/case management system to help with reporting unless otherwise specified in the RFP.

 

It is important to express an interest and commitment to participating in Best Starts data collection and evaluation activities. However, having the eagerness to participate in a rigorous evaluation does not increase your chances as varying levels of capacity by organizations will be considered.

 

Yes. After funding decisions are made, capacity building supports are available if needed. This could take the form of one-on-one support from a member of our evaluation team, participation in regular peer learning with other grantees and King County staff, or support from a Best Starts-funded capacity building consultantWe are committed to working with grantees to build capacity to collect evaluation data and to use data for program quality improvement.


 

Data reporting methods will vary depending on the type of program. In general, programs will regularly report data and other information to King County related to the following performance measurement areas:

  • How much did we do? (outputs)
  • How well did we do it? (quality)
  • Is anyone better off? (results)

We recognize that the work of each grantee will be impacted by external factors outside of Best Starts. By having regular communication between the grantee and the program manager, the role of these external factors will be considered. We will also collect qualitative data to provide context for quantitative data. Finally, we are tracking other initiatives or policies being implemented that could catalyze or hinder the work of Best Starts.


 

The evaluation framework examines both population level indicators as well as performance measures. By looking at population level indicators, we can see what is happening for King County as a whole. Many of these population level indicators are aligned with complimentary initiatives happening in King County and Washington State. A key factor of collective impact is using shared measures across initiatives to focus work on key results. We will monitor what other initiatives are happening simultaneously with Best Starts so that we can interpret changes in measures appropriately.

We also do in-depth evaluation projects, both internally and with independent third-party researchers, to understand more about our collective impact. Some reports explore the implementation or outcomes of a specific funding strategy, while others explore the implementation or impact of Best Starts as a whole.

 Please view these reports here.

This is something that has been considered from many angles, and has not been determined feasible or the highest priority for Best Starts evaluation funds. Due to the complexity of this initiative, and concerns about privacy and equity, the type of data collection required for a research study of this nature would present too many barriers to vulnerable families and grantees.


 

While we do have Healthy Youth Survey data by school district, under the terms of our data sharing agreement we are not able to release data by school district without the written permission of the school district. The Best Starts Indicators Website (www.kingcounty.gov/bskindicators) shows data by region; we work with Seattle Public Schools biannually to obtain permission to release the data.

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Fax: 206-296-5260