Best Starts for Kids will provide the resources needed to put every child on a path toward lifelong success. Science tells us prevention and early intervention are the most effective and least expensive ways to address our most serious problems such as obesity, mental illness, domestic violence, substance abuse, and homelessness. Yet, much of the County’s funding is responding to these negative outcomes – severe mental illness, homelessness, chronic illness, and youth who have already dropped out of school or who have been involved in the juvenile justice system. Specifically, 75% of the County’s general fund pays for the law and justice system.
Best Starts for Kids invests in a child’s early years, carries forward throughout a child’s journey to adulthood, and creates healthy communities that reinforce their progress.
A six-year levy lid lift at a rate of 14 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value, which would raise about $65 million per year at a cost to the average King County homeowner of about $1 per week.
Fifty percent of the revenue would be invested in strategies focused on children under age five and pregnant women, including a modest investment to sustain and expand parent and child health services that are delivered through the county’s Public Health Centers. The science and evidence shows us that the earlier we invest, the greater the return for both the child’s development and our society.
Sustaining the Gain
Thirty-five percent would be invested in strategies focused on children and youth aged five through twenty-four. The science and research tells us that the brain continues to develop during this time and that prevention efforts addressed at key developmental stages or transition points in a young person’s life help to sustain gains made earlier in life.
Ten percent would be invested in strategies to create safe and healthy communities. This strategy will sustain and expand the partnership between King County and The Seattle Foundation on Communities of Opportunity (COO). COO is based on the latest research and evidence regarding the impact of place on a child’s success and the importance of supporting communities in building their own capacity to create positive change.
Outcomes-Focused and Data Driven
Five percent would support evaluation, data collection and improving the delivery of services and programs for children and youth. This will ensure Best Starts for Kids strategies are tailored for children from every background in King County and that we deliver on the results for every child in King County.
Youth and Family Homelessness Prevention
Initial levy collections would be used to create a family and youth homelessness prevention initiative modeled on a successful pilot implemented by organizations serving survivors of domestic violence.
An oversight and advisory board comprised of county residents and stakeholders with geographically and culturally diverse perspectives would be established. The advisory board will make recommendations and monitor distribution of levy proceeds. The existing governance group for COO will act as the advisory board for that portion of the levy funds.
In order to reduce inequities in our County, Best Starts for Kids strategies are designed to be both universal and targeted, with the large majority of Best Starts for Kids levy funding competitively bid in outcomes-focused contracts to community-based organizations. This will help ensure that the strategies are implemented in a manner that is appropriate for all cultural and ethnic groups and that each child and her caregivers receive the tools and level of support they need. Should the voters approve it, the county will refine outcomes and indicators through development of a detailed implementation plan with input and consultation from the community.