Give every kid a “Best Start” on Nov. 3: Vote YES on King County Prop. 1!

By United Way of King County, on October 30, 2015 | In Helping Students Graduate

Brooke Williams is an SVP Seattle partner with an extensive legal and public policy background. She’s also a United Way volunteer, donor and mother of a five-year old.

Voters have a unique opportunity on November 3rd to make a substantial, community-level investment in improving the health and well-being of all children, youth and families in King County. Best Starts for Kids (King County Prop. No. 1) is a bipartisan, evidence-based initiative that would invest deeply in prevention and early intervention for children and families while continuing to support children and youth on their path to college or career. As a United Way supporter, early learning advocate, and parent, I urge you fill out your ballot and vote “YES” on King County Proposition No. 1!

Our region is experiencing strong economic growth, but these gains are not being felt equally across King County. Despite improved economic opportunities and relatively low unemployment, families are struggling under rapidly rising housing costs and stagnating wages. This, in turn, leads to increased income disparities, homelessness and childhood poverty. Only 40% of children in the county enter kindergarten ready to learn. Health, high school graduation rates, family stability and career opportunities suffer when children do not receive support in these critical early years. We can do better.

Cutting-edge research from the Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences (I-LABS) at UW points to ages 0-3 as the most critical period for brain development, long before children enter kindergarten. Economic research tells us that investments in prenatal support, home visiting programs (like United Way’s Parent-Child Home Program), and early intervention yield some of the strongest returns on investment of any community program. And yet, 75% of King County’s resources currently fund the criminal justice system. Isn’t it time to flip this orthodoxy, fund proven prevention strategies, and stop managing negative outcomes?

I am proud to be a member of the team that recommended United Way endorse this important measure. United Way of King County has committed to the ambitious goal of having 80% of kids ready for kindergarten by 2020, and Best Starts for Kids is an important step toward giving all children in King County an equal chance.



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