Investing in Healthy Communities and in the Health of Children and Youth

childrenIn November 2015, the voters of King County approved a levy to fund the Best Starts for Kids Initiative. Best Starts for Kids (BSK) is an initiative to improve the health and well-being of King County residents by investing in prevention and early intervention for children, youth, families, and communities.

The BSK programs will ensure that ALL children in King County get the best possible start in life by providing early support to struggling parents and families. The goal is to enable children to sustain these gains through young adulthood, interrupting the school-to-jail pipeline.

Research shows that strategic investments in infants, children and their families lead to improved outcomes and can ultimately save taxpayer dollars, since prevention tends to be less costly than addressing issues once they become full-blown problems.

As the chair of the King County Health, Housing and Human Services Committee – the committee that approved the Best Starts for Kids Implementation Plan – I am committed to ensuring the effective implementation of this important program. The levy will generate approximately $400 million in revenue over a six-year levy period.

Half of the revenue raised through BSK will be directed toward children under five years of age, pregnant women, and new parents. Programs for vulnerable children and youth ages five through twenty-four will also be funded through BSK. Human brain development continues into early adulthood, so providing prevention and early intervention supports – particularly to at-risk populations and populations that have encountered challenges – throughout the teen and early adult years is critically important.

The Best Starts for Kids initiative is trail-blazing in the nation. As a former fourth-grade public school teacher, my priorities have always focused on education and child development. The Best Starts for Kids initiative programs aim to increase the number of children and youth who reach adulthood healthy and ready to succeed. The programs will fund prenatal support, early childhood development initiatives, timely early intervention for struggling or vulnerable young people, and, through the Youth and Family Homelessness Prevention Initiative, will also invest in homelessness prevention efforts.

I invite you to learn more about Best Starts for Kids, and to become more involved. Visit the Best Starts for Kids Blog, and follow the Twitter hashtag #BestStarts for current info.