We know that a good education is critical for success; however, in our region, too many miss out on opportunities because of persistent, systemic inequities. We also know that over the past year, education has been severely disrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in terms of access, quality, and equitable supports. For these reasons Puget Sound Taxpayer Accountability Account (PSTAA) investments are so important.
PSTAA is a new funding stream for King County that resulted from State revenues collected from Sound Transit 3-related construction. Following several years of community-driven work, a plan outlining the strategies for investment of PSTAA proceeds was approved by King County Council in September 2020. Over the past six months, DCHS staff across two DCHS divisions, Children Youth and Young Adults (CYYA) and Housing, Homelessness, and Community Development (HHCD) have been working to launch this effort.
With this investment, DCHS aims to promote equitable outcomes in education by investing in Early Learning Facilities for the youngest learners in our region; a King County Promise strategy to support older youth through postsecondary completion; and pilot project called Love and Liberation, which helps Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) youth strengthen their sense of racial and/or ethnic identity.
Here’s what’s currently happening across these three strategies:
Early Learning Facilities
Through PSTAA’s Early Learning Facilities (ELF) strategy, DCHS will invest in maintenance, expansion, and construction of new early learning facilities, with a focus on areas of King County where access to quality care are extremely limited. This May, the HHCD division of DCHS will release an RFP seeking an intermediary organization to partner with King County to oversee the fund that handles major construction projects. Once this partner is onboarded, the goal is to create a framework and conduct outreach that leads to launching an initial funding round for early learning facilities construction projects by the end of 2021.
Additionally, the HHCD division will establish a family child care program to fund maintenance and expansion projects within family home-based early learning centers. These projects may be granted up to $75,000 to support improvements that result in gaining state licensure for the program or adding child care slots to serve additional children.
King County Promise
PSTAA will fund a strategy called King County Promise, investing in equitable access and support services for older youth. Young adults will receive support as they navigate their transition from high school to postsecondary education and all the way through graduation from the academic or career path or their choice. An equity stipend will also be provided to students furthest from opportunity who enroll in community and technical college, to help mitigate the costs associated with getting a degree. This strategy also focused on aligning systems and policies to reduce common barriers that students face.
DCHS is excited to work with the Puget Sound Educational Service District (PSESD), who was selected via competitive RFP process to serve as system supporting organization, working in partnership with DCHS to oversee the King County Promise. Starting in summer 2021, PSESD and DCHS will host information sessions for K-12 school districts, community/technical colleges, and nonprofit organizations interested in receiving funding to work together in support of King County youth.
Love and Liberation
PSTAA provides an exciting opportunity for DCHS to fund community innovations, such as the Love and Liberation (L & L) pilot. This effort, led by 14 BIPOC nonprofit organizations located throughout the region, and supported by the United Way of King County (UWKC), is currently underway, providing a variety of youth development opportunities that center positive racial and ethnic identity development. Additionally, this project is testing new, collaborative decision-making methods that include participatory allocation of resources.
PSTAA was created by the Washington State Legislature and directs that Sound Transit 3-related funds be used to improve educational outcomes. Between 2019 and 2034, DCHS expects to receive $318 million in PSTAA funds. Per King County Council’s directive, these funds will support investment in early learning facilities, K-12 community-based supports as well as college, career, and technical education.
All of this work is being implemented by DCHS, with oversight from the PSTAA Advisory Subcommittee, which is part of the King County Children and Youth Advisory Board (CYAB). The Subcommittee has 13 active members, and includes 4 at-large community members, including 3 young adults under age 25. This group is responsible for monitoring the progress of PSTAA’s implementation in King County, identifying opportunities for alignment between PSTAA investments and other key initiatives and programs for children and youth; and, for providing guidance to the King County Council and the Executive on the educational needs of King County youth.
For more information contact Hannelore Makhani at Hannelore.Makhani@kingcounty.gov or 206-477-7525.
Originally posted on June 1, 2021