6 Feb, 2016

Voters in This County Raised Their Own Property Taxes to Fund Childhood Wellness

the atlantic | JASON HANCOCK, ROUTE FIFTY | JAN 6, 2016

King County, Washington, now has the most ambitious early childhood development program in the country.

Communities around the country are looking for ways to invest in early childhood. And for the most part, that means focusing on preschool.

But for Washington state’s most populous jurisdiction, King County, waiting until kids get to preschool is too late.

Voters in the county, which is anchored by the city of Seattle, recently voted to increase their property taxes to pump around $65 million a year into the most comprehensive early childhood development program in the nation, said Sheila Capestany, strategic adviser for children and youth for King County.

Instead of focusing solely on preschool, the money will also support programs starting with prenatal care through early education and into a child’s teenage years until they reach adulthood.

Best Starts for Kids Levy Proposal

Investing Early | Fifty percent of the revenue would be invested in strategies focused on children under age five and pregnant women such as home visiting for new parents and their children. This will include a modest investment to sustain and expand parent/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.

Communities Matter | Ten percent would be invested in strategies to create safe and healthy communities such as increasing access to healthy affordable food, expanding economic opportunities and access to affordable housing. This strategy will sustain and expand the partnership between King County and The Seattle

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.