NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Thursday, October 29th, 2015

Dow Constantine: Join me in supporting Best Starts for Kids (King County Proposition 1)

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.

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