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Best Starts for Kids Reports

Best Starts for Kids Reports

Best Starts for Kids is committed to evaluating all of our strategies and programs to ensure that we are moving toward our vision of happy, healthy, safe and thriving youth and families. Best Starts for Kids reports and evaluations are guided by community knowledge as well as science and research in an effort to continually reflect community needs and deepen our impact.


Evaluation and Technical Reports

The School-to-Work strategy connects students with developmental disabilities to employment services while they are still in high school transition programs. At Best Starts we know employment can be an important way for young people to connect and contribute to their community and that it’s essential we invest in supports that reduce barriers and promote success. This report details the reach of our work throughout King County and identifies opportunities for us to grow this strategy to reach more students and support equity across our community.

Download the report.

In this series, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) parents and caregivers in King County describe their experiences of racism. Oppressive systems and racism continue to create disparities in access to services, education, economic attainment, and life expectancies for communities of color. The findings in this series describe experiences with racism that include bullying in schools; discrimination in public spaces; negligence at the doctor’s office; being overlooked for job opportunities; frustration, self-doubt, and mental burden to cope with perpetrations of racism; and others.

While this series focuses largely on interpersonal racism, racism at the individual level doesn’t happen in isolation. Institutional and systemic racism are the largest drivers in disparities and inequities and allow space for individual-level racism to occur. Systemic racism needs to be addressed to make meaningful improvements in disparities. The survey results come from the King County 2019 Best Starts for Kids Health Survey, a survey of 6,000 parents and caregivers with children in elementary school and younger, in which we asked about seven specific experiences of racism.

Full Report

This series includes findings for 11 communities:




Best Starts partnered with an independent evaluator to assess the successes, challenges, and implementation learnings arising from the Best Starts first levy period from 2016-2021. The partner used qualitative and quantitative data to answer the evaluation question: To what extent and in what ways has the BSK initiative improved health and well-being and advanced equity for children, youth, families and communities in King County?

The report summarizes four key findings that demonstrate how Best Starts centered equity and laid foundational elements for systems change across King County during the first levy. It also offers recommendations which focus on actionable steps Best Starts staff can take while implementing the second levy from 2022-2027.

This report details how Best Starts for Kids pivoted due to COVID-19, from implementation impacts to lessons learned between March 2020 and August 2020.

This report provides relevant and timely information about the impacts of the COVID pandemic on young children and families in 2021 in King County, WA. The results come from the Best Starts for Kids Health Survey, a survey of over 7,000 parents and caregivers with young children in King County, WA. Families took the survey in seven languages online or by phone, and there was strong participation across demographic groups.

Please note: We have updated this report on May 25, 2022 after noticing an error on page 46.  It stated that 40 people took the survey in Russian and 66 in Somali, but should have said 40 in Somali and 66 in Russian.

In 2020, Best Starts This report completed an assessment of program implementation and outcomes since the inception of the levy. This report includes:
  • An assessment of how Best Starts levy proceeds are being allocated, the status of strategy and program implementation, design or policy changes, challenges and outcomes;
  • An analysis of the context and impact of the Best Starts levy–funded goals, strategies, and programs;
  • An analysis of how Best Starts investments have impacted the advancement of equity and social justice, and have changed systems or policies of racial and other forms of oppression;
  • Recommendations for improving Best Starts if voters approve the levy;
  • An analysis on how the goals of Best Starts align with other levy investments and strategic priorities

Download the full report.

In 2018, Best Starts for Kids’ (BSK) Prenatal to Five Innovation Fund began partnering with 13 community organizations across King County seeking to implement new or adapted approaches to support young children, caregivers and families, and service providers. From the beginning of this project, Best Starts for Kids brought a technical assistance (TA) team on board to serve as capacity builders. Support has included the facilitation of individualized TA and shared learning activities across three phases of innovation: Development and Planning, Implementation, and Scale and Sustainability. 

The goals of this report are to: 

  • Provide a brief overview of the different phases of TA support across the P-5 Innovation Fund from 2018 to 2021
  • Share evaluation data and lessons learned about TA in 2021 during final innovation phase, scale and sustainability

See the report here.

In 2017, Best Starts for Kids partnered with School Readiness Consulting (SRC) along with support of other key partners to conduct a landscape analysis to learn about the strengths, opportunities, and challenges with Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health (IECMH) services across King County. The landscape analysis accomplished three goals: it established a common understanding of the current scope of services available for supporting the mental health of infants, toddlers, children up to age five and their families; It clarified the effectiveness of and gaps in current services; And finally, it explored how programs advance equity for families and children.

This analysis led to a community strategic plan to support improving social and emotional outcomes for children and families. By implementing the strategic plan, we aim to strengthen Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health services in King County. This project used an approach called “community action research.” From January 2019 through June 2021, we collected stories from a diverse group of families, providers, and community partners. With these stories in mind, we worked with families and community partners on making meaning, setting priorities, planning, and reviewing this report.

Community Summaries

Strategic Plan Summary

Strategic Plan 

Full Report: Landscape Analysis and Strategic Plan

In 2018, Best Starts for Kids (BSK) funded robust capacity-building support for partners who received awards to design programs in two prenatal-to-five strategy areas: home-based services and community-based parenting supports. All partners received tailored, culturally responsive services from a team of capacity builders.

BSK partnered with Cardea to conduct an evaluation to understand if capacity building supported initial program implementation, enabled the scale up to full implementation, and helped to achieve positive shifts in organizational capacity.

Evaluation reports can be viewed here:

Over the course of October and November 2020, Best Starts for Kids staff and community partners co-hosted a series of thirteen community conversations across a broad range of geographic and cultural communities in King County to listen and learn from Best Starts Champions, partners, and providers. This Community Conversations report shares back what we heard from communities across King County on what went well and what was challenging in the first levy, and what improvements should be considered if the initiative is renewed by King County voters. 



Cardea conducted a landscape analysis to improve our current understanding of ESIT (Early Support for Infants and Toddlers) programs’ impact and reach to children in out-of-home care and/or involved in the state child welfare system. The report will inform how ESIT and Best Starts can better support families jointly served by ESIT and the child welfare system.


Empowering Youth and Families Outreach, Communities in Schools of Federal Way - Highline, and Cardea partnered with Public Health- Seattle & King County to talk with middle school students of color and gender diverse middle school students in King County. Students shared their experiences of how school environments impact young people’s emotional health and well-being and their recommendations of how adults can best support wellbeing in school environments. 

Best Starts for Kids partnered with Seattle Children’s Research Institute to assess three things: Was the program implemented as intended? Was the implementation successful, and how could it be improved? Is School-Based SBIRT an appropriate model for middle-school students? During the year one evaluation period, 2,614 students were screened, and 141 staff were trained as interventionists. All 42 participating schools provided insight during the evaluation.

In 2023 Cardea conducted a landscape review of Child Care Health Consultation (CCHC) systems, interviewed CCHC system leaders, and engaged a CCHC System Strategic Advisory Group to develop a strategic vision that includes actionable recommendations and foundational investments needed to build the CCHC system in King County. This report includes a system vision, system goal, and four CCHC system components. Each system component has goals, objectives, and strategies that work towards meeting the system vision and system goal.

Download the report

Best Starts for Kids partnered with Cardea to explore two approaches to childcare health consultation, which builds collaborative partnerships between a trusted consultant (nurses, nutritionists, and other specialists) and children, families, and providers. This healing-centered, trauma-informed approach promotes the health, safety, and development of children in childcare. Using a participatory approach for this evaluation, key findings indicate that CCHC services support a wide range of child care providers, children, and families, particularly those who have been consistently and historically underserved through multiple approaches and program models.

In 2018, Best Starts for Kids partnered with Kindering to work alongside the community to identify needs and recommendations for establishing a cohesive and accessible countywide system of child care health consultation (CCHC) that alleviates race- and place-based inequities. Community and stakeholder engagement was integral to this project and consisted of over 150 conversations with almost 1,500 individuals across King County. Community stakeholders came together starting in 2018 through 2020 to explore the existing and preferred scope of work of child care health consultants in King County. The CCHC Systems Development Report was published in December 2020 to provide community-informed recommendations to bridge the gaps in King County’s current CCHC system and build a community-preferred system of equitable CCHC across the county.


With the Puget Sound Educational Service District, these reports are a snapshot of how BSK’s school partnerships are forming, the changes partnerships seek to make, and what schools, districts, community-based organizations, and King County staff can do to support their continued growth with the goals of supporting success and safety for King County’s students. 



From 2018-2021, Best Starts for Kids partnered with the University of Washington School of Social Work and Best Starts-funded organizations to develop a community and youth-informed tool that measures program impact. This tool measures factors that promote positive youth development such as social and emotional development, racial/ethnic and gender identity, and supportive program environments.



Survey Materials

This report reviews the technical assistance provided for 25 Requests for Proposals (RFPs) released between June 2017 and January 2019 and identifies recommendations for BSK.

Conducted by The Developmental Disabilities and Early Childhood Supports (DDECS) Division in partnership with Cardea and WithinReach, this landscape analysis improves our understanding of the successes, gaps, and disparities around developmental screening, referral, and connection to services across King County. Information from this landscape analysis will set the stage for future work around universal screening, referral, and connection to services. Data reflected here can only be applied to the providers, caregivers, and communities who participated in this work.

Following the Landscape Analysis, we worked with a group of 12 community experts who guided the development of a Strategic Plan on developmental screening and referral. We hosted three community conversations, one webinar, and 12 focus groups with parents, caregivers and early-childhood providers to draft, re-work and finalize our Strategic Plan. 

Strategic Plan Summary

Strategic Plan

Full Report

Contact Us

Phone 206-263-9105

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Fax: 206-296-5260

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