Skip to main content
King County logo

News

King County Executive
Dow Constantine


Executive previews first Best Starts for Kids strategy, which will prevent youth and family homelessness

Summary

The first strategy that will be funded by Executive Constantine’s Best Starts for Kids initiative is based on a highly successful pilot project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that prevented local children and families from becoming homeless.

Story

bsk logo colorKing County Executive Dow Constantine today provided a preview of a new strategy that will prevent youth and families from becoming homeless, based on a highly successful pilot project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

It will be the first initiative funded by the voter-approved Best Starts for Kids levy Executive Constantine developed to invest in prevention and early intervention strategies to deliver better outcomes in health and well-being.

"My commitment to the people of King County is to invest in what works – and that’s exactly what we’re doing with the very first initiative funded by Best Starts for Kids," said Executive Constantine. "By applying a proven approach that produces remarkable results, we will prevent children and families in our region from becoming homeless."

The three-year pilot project focused on helping survivors of domestic violence remain in safe, stable housing. Ninety-six percent of those in the program still had housing 18 months later, and 76 percent needed only minimal services after 18 months.

Focusing on the specific needs of individual parents and caregivers

Rather than having a limited number of options for those who are at risk of being homeless, the customized approach starts with case managers focusing on the specific needs of individual parents and caregivers. Examples of customized interventions include helping a parent pay for a commercial driver’s license so he or she can remain employed, get clothes for a new job, or help with the first month’s rent.

“When case managers have flexibility to meet the specific needs of parents and caregivers, children have a chance to be children without the fear and anxiety of homelessness,” said David Bley, Director of the Pacific Northwest Initiative at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “We’re excited that King County, one of the largest regional governments in the United States, is building on the success of our pilot project to prevent homelessness.”

Preventing homelessness is less expensive than providing shelter and prevents children from experiencing the trauma that homelessness can cause, which can have a negative lifelong impact on brain development.

Executive Constantine recently sent his proposal for the Youth and Family Homelessness Prevention Initiative to the King County Council. The proposal includes $19 million in funding paid for by the Best Starts for Starts levy. 

Executive Constantine will deliver his proposal for the entire Best Starts for Kids initiative in June. Half of the funds will invest in prevention strategies that focus on birth through 5, when 92 percent of brain growth occurs. It will sustain the gain by providing early intervention as problems such as serious depression and addiction arise during teenage years. And it will invest in healthier, safer communities that reinforce progress. 


Relevant links


Quotes

My commitment to the people of King County is to invest in what works – and that’s exactly what we’re doing with the very first initiative funded by Best Starts for Kids. By applying a proven approach that produces remarkable results, we will prevent children and families in our region from becoming homeless.

Dow Constantine, King County Executive

When case managers have flexibility to meet the specific needs of parents and caregivers, children have a chance to be children without the fear and anxiety of homelessness. We’re excited that King County, one of the largest regional governments in the United States, is building on the success of our pilot project to prevent homelessness.

David Bley, Director of the Pacific Northwest Initiative at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
For more information, contact:

Chad Lewis, Executive Office, 206-263-1250


King County Executive
Dow Constantine
Dow constantine portrait

Read the Executive's biography