Six years have passed since King County voters approved the first “Best Starts for Kids” levy, you’ll be asked in August if you support renewing it. King County Executive Dow Constantine‘s announcement says it has served more than 500,000 children in the past six years (here’s a report), “providing comprehensive supports from prenatal development all the way to young adulthood.” The programs proposed to be funded through the levy include:
• Home-based services for new parents – provides support for new families throughout the first years. In these programs, an average of 97 percent of new parents started breastfeeding, helping their babies off to a healthy start. This exceeded the goal of “Healthy People 2020,” a federal initiative with a goal of 82 percent of new parents breastfeeding.
• Programs that promote healthy development for youth – provides support for children and young people to develop leaderships skill, connect with their community, and succeed in school. The levy served 40,000 children and young people with programs before, during, and after school, and throughout the summer.
• Youth and Family Homelessness Prevention Initiative – flexible funds and intensive case management helped 9,200 young people and families. Ninety percent of enrollees did not enter the homeless system, and 92 percent remained housed at least one year after exiting the program.
Child care would also be addressed, “new funding for 3,000 children under 5 who currently have no access to child care.” So what will it cost? The first-year rate is 19 cents per $1,000 valuation, $114 a year for a “median-priced King County home,” with annual increases capped at three percent, raising about $811 million over the six years. The announcement says this is five cents more per $1,000 than the original Best Starts for Kids levy. You can read more about this in the full announcement. Next step for the proposal is a County Council decision on whether to send it to the ballot.