This year, Best Starts for Kids entered into the first year of the second levy (Best Starts 2.0) and over the course of the year we centered on learning, growing and thriving.
In the first Best Starts levy we invested more than $400 million toward community over six years. Now, with the support of King County voters, we are dedicating more than $800 million through 2027 toward community partnerships that support pregnant people, babies, young people and families. This expands our opportunities to build sustainable community partnerships that help families and communities in King County thrive, however we know that the need for support is greater than one agency can respond to.
Read more about Best Starts for Kids 2.0 on our comprehensive one-pager here!
Our work across King County
The first year of Best Starts 2.0 is off to a running start.
Best Starts 2.0 has awarded nearly $110 million to community partners across King County and closed 31 funding opportunities. These funds are going out to 284 funding requests which represents 31 percent of project applicants.
Through 2022, we have seen that the need is not slowing down or getting smaller by any means. Nearly 500 organizations made about 919 funding requests to Best Starts for more than $550 million in funds.
With the introduction of new strategy areas: capital projects and child care, we found new ways to partner with community to respond to the needs of King County’s babies, young people, pregnant people, and families.
Capital Projects is a new Best Starts Strategy that will invest up to $50 million to provide grants to support repairs and expansion of buildings and facilities, and to support property renovation and the construction of new buildings and facilities that will serve children, young people and families. Though our capital projects won’t kick off until 2023, we’re currently requesting information related to interest in and need for Capital Program funding available in 2023.
Child Care Subsidy
Best Starts is dedicating about $27 million per year ($160 million over the course of the second levy) to a new child care subsidy. The Best Starts for Kids Child Care Subsidy is designed to make child care affordable for families who can’t qualify for other child care subsidies, including families who make higher incomes, immigrant families who may be undocumented, and families who aren’t eligible for other reasons.
So far more than 1,200 kids from 800 families are approved for the Best Starts Child Care Subsidy.
Child Care Workforce
We reached nearly 90 percent of child care workers in King County with retention payments we distributed in partnership with the City of Seattle and Child Care Resources. King County dedicated $5 million from the Best Starts for Kids levy and the City of Seattle contributed $2.4 million from the JumpStart Payroll Expense Tax for a total of $7.4 million to send to child care workers to incentivize continued employment and gather data on workforce retention and turnover.
Through this collaboration we sent retention payments to more than 12,000 workers.
Our look ahead to 2023
As we ramp up our capital projects, we’ll be able to report out the ways this new funding will impact communities.
We’ll be rolling out more outcome information across all our strategies and highlighting stories from community partners about the work happening across King County.