Editor’s Note: It is our great pleasure tonight to welcome King County Executive Dow Constantine to NPI’s Cascadia Advocate. In this special guest post, Executive Constantine explains why it is critical that we pass King County Proposition #1, the Best Starts for Kids levy, this November. NPI has taken a position enthusiastically supporting this measure, and we urge your support.
In a region of boundless opportunity, where key economic indicators like the employment rate, home values and average household income are all on the rise, it is easy to overlook that there are also negative trends and startling inequities in King County that threaten our long-term prosperity.
Since 2000, King County has added 85,000 net new households, 96 percent of which earn either less than $35,000 or more than $125,000 a year. Over the same period, 80% of the growth in poverty has occurred in the suburbs, and below-poverty households are disproportionately concentrated in communities of color.
Confronting these inequities is a moral imperative, but it is also necessary for our region’s long term economic success.
If King County is to continue to prosper, we must give all of our children—regardless of race, or family income, or zip code—the best start in life we can.
That’s why I proposed the Best Starts for Kids levy, King County Proposition 1, and why I am asking for your vote.
Today, three-quarters of King County’s General Fund budget is spent on the justice system, including police, courts, lawyers, and jails.
The County spends much of its time and resources figuring out the best way to respond to negative outcomes in people’s lives. For want of an ounce of prevention, we must pay for pound after pound of expensive and ineffective cure.
With just over $1 per week for the average household, Proposition 1 will help transform how we invest in our children’s future by transitioning to less expensive, more effective upstream solutions to some of the greatest challenges we face in our community including mental illness, addiction, domestic violence, homelessness, and incarceration.
Best Starts for Kids is based on groundbreaking research produced at the University of Washington’s Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences, which provides us with unprecedented insight into key developmental milestones.
That’s why half of the funding from Proposition 1 will go toward early childhood development, from birth through age 5, when 92 percent of brain growth occurs. We’ll sustain the gain by providing early intervention as problems such as serious depression and chemical dependency emerge during teenage years.
And to ensure that the place where a child lives reinforces the progress they make, we will invest in strategies to make our communities safer and healthier.
King County is already home to programs producing remarkable results that improve the health and well-being of our region.
The Nurse-Family Partnership provides home visitations where specially trained nurses and community-based providers help low income mothers get their babies off to a strong, healthy start. Community-based neurodevelopmental centers are providing early intervention services that can prevent a developmental delay from becoming a lifelong disability. And early learning facilities are providing effective programs to low income families and children with disabilities.
The Best Starts for Kids Levy is our opportunity to make the most effective tools available to every parent and caregiver in our community, so they can help our young people grow into the talented, creative, and motivated workers we need to continue moving our region forward.
Best Starts for Kids is a comprehensive, science-based approach that will turn proven ideas into action, and help ensure that King County is a fair, just and equitable place to live; a place where all people – regardless of the wealth of their parents or the color of their skin – can achieve their full potential in life; and where our prosperity isn’t undone by our inequity.
Please join me in supporting Best Starts for Kids (King County Proposition 1). Vote yes and return your ballot by November 3rd, 2015.