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King County Executive
Dow Constantine


Executive Constantine's Best Starts for Kids initiative placed on November ballot

Summary

King County Executive Dow Constantine thanked the Metropolitan King County Council for voting 8-1 to put his Best Starts for Kids initiative on the Nov. 3, 2015 ballot. The proposed six-year levy would provide funding for prevention and early intervention programs designed to increase the number of youth who reach adulthood healthy and ready to succeed.

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Best Starts for Kids

To learn more, visit the Best Starts for Kids website.

King County Executive Dow Constantine thanked the Metropolitan King County Council for placing his Best Starts for Kids initiative on the Nov. 3, 2015 ballot by an 8-1 vote.

The proposed six-year levy would provide funding for prevention and early intervention programs designed to increase the number of King County children and youth who reach adulthood healthy and ready to contribute to the region’s prosperity.

"We have the means, the shared commitment, and now the opportunity to put every child in King County on a path toward lifelong success," said Executive Constantine. "Thanks to today’s action by Councilmembers, voters will have the option to invest earlier in the development of our children and youth, when we have the greatest chance to help them reach their full potential.

"Best Starts for Kids is how we will transform the way we invest in our next generation, to finally provide the upstream solutions that prevent negative outcomes such as mental illness, substance abuse, domestic violence, homelessness, and incarceration. By making the latest research and tools available to every parent and caregiver in our community, we will be able to produce the talented, creative and motivated workforce we need to remain a prosperous region," said the Executive.

Cost to average homeowner is about $1 each week

The proposed levy rate is 14 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value, which would cost the average King County homeowner about $1 each week. Half of the funding would go toward early childhood developmentbirth through age 5followed by early intervention as problems such as depression, and chemical dependency occur during teenage years. It would also support community-based programs that are designed to create safe, healthy communities that reinforce a child’s progress. 

Heckman Curve_King County

Learn more about James Heckman's research on the great gains to be had by investing in early development.

There already are community-based programs in King County that increase the likelihood that a baby is born at a healthy weight and prevent developmental delays from becoming lifelong disabilities. However, access to those programs is limited in part because about 75 percent of the County’s General Fund is used to pay for the justice system, which includes law enforcement, courts, and jails.

Best Starts for Kids provides the funds needed to expand access to community-based programs that are proven to deliver positive outcomes or show potential. The long-term goal is to decrease demand for services needed when there is a negative outcome, such as mental illness, substance abuse, domestic violence and homelessness. 

Best Starts for Kids is based on research by James Heckman, a Nobel Prize-winning economics professor who found that investing earlier in a person’s developmentstarting with prenatal servicesdelivers the greatest return. 

Levy would generate an estimated $58.3 million in 2016 with the following allocations:

  • 50 percent to early childhood development, from birth through age 5, when research shows that 92 percent of brain growth occurs.
  • 35 percent to sustain the gain by providing early intervention services to address problems such as depression and developmental disabilities as the brain continues to develop through age 24.
  • 10 percent to reinforce a child’s progress by improving the health, social, and economic outcomes in the communities where they live.
  • 5 percent to pay for evaluation, data collection, and program improvement. 

 

Relevant links


Quotes

We have the means, the shared commitment, and now the opportunity to put every child in King County on a path toward lifelong success. Thanks to today’s action by Councilmembers, voters will have the option to invest earlier in the development of our children and youth, when we have the greatest chance to help them reach their full potential.

Best Starts for Kids is how we will transform the way we invest in our next generation, to finally provide the upstream solutions that prevent negative outcomes such as mental illness, substance abuse, domestic violence, homelessness, and incarceration. By making the latest research and tools available to every parent and caregiver in our community, we will be able to produce the talented, creative and motivated workforce we need to remain a prosperous region.

Dow Constantine, King County Executive

The cost of systemic failures is always higher than the cost of investing in prevention and early intervention. And the benefits have lifelong, generational positive effects on our society. That’s why I believe Best Starts for Kids is the single most important opportunity I’ve seen in my career to make a difference in the health and well-being of our community.

Mike Heinisch, Executive Director of Kent Youth and Family Services, Co-Chair of the King County Alliance for Human Services, Chair of the Youth and Family Services Association of King County

Like pediatricians across our field, I’m committed to keeping up-to-date on the latest science on what keeps kids healthy. What is clear from the evidence is that supporting families and kids early on is the most important step we can take. My greatest aspiration is to provide a prescription for prevention, instead of always having to treat poor outcomes. Best Starts for Kids turns that hope into action.

Dr. Ben Danielson, Medical Director of Seattle Children's Odessa Brown Children's Clinic

For more information, contact:

Chad Lewis, Executive Office, 206-263-1250


King County Executive
Dow Constantine
Dow constantine portrait

Read the Executive's biography