Executive Constantine Launches New Initiatives that will Create Safer, Healthier Schools and Neighborhoods throughout King County!

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May 25, 2017

Executive Dow Constantine today launched two initiatives that will create safer, healthier schools and neighborhoods for children, youth and families throughout King County.

King County will make it easier for children and youth to eat healthy, exercise and avoid harmful substances with the help of 17 local nonprofits that successfully competed for Best Starts for Kids funding. He also announced that King County will open three new School-Based Health Centers this fall – located in Bellevue, Renton, and Vashon Island – where students can meet with medical-, dental- and mental-health providers at no cost.

“We are delivering on the promise I made to the people of King County – to create safer, healthier, better-connected communities where all children and youth can flourish,” said Executive Constantine. “Best Starts for Kids is no longer a concept. We are launching initiatives that will put more children and youth on a path toward lifelong success.”

The announcement included $2 million to set up the three new School-Based Health Centers and pay for the first year of operations, which will begin in September.

Each new School-Based Health Center will feature a health clinic, counseling space, and a pharmacy, as well as space for a mobile dental unit. On-site behavioral health providers will provide mental-health support, counseling, and referrals to other services.

Hamdi Abdulle of Somali Youth and Family Club and who is one of those recipients is thanking King County Executive Dow Constantine for allowing small CBO’s to receive their fair share of the work.  SYFC which is a lead organization has won $150K.

Research published in the Journal of Adolescent Health found that adolescents who have access to mental-health care at their school are 21 times more likely to meet with a provider than adolescents whose only access is outside of school. Research published in the Journal of School Health found that School-Based Health Centers cut the absentee rate in half among students who had three or more absences.

There currently are 28 School-Based Health Centers in King County, 25 of which are in Seattle. Best Starts for Kids will make more school-based health services available throughout King County, with new centers in urban, suburban and rural communities.

The voter-approved Best Starts for Kids levy will provide a total of $6.7 million for the initial capital investments and operations through 2021. Health services will be delivered by providers who successfully competed for Best Starts for Kids funding:

  • International Community Health Services will deliver services at Highland Middle School in Bellevue
  • HealthPoint will deliver services at Renton High School
  • Neighborcare Health will deliver services on Vashon Island

“These new health centers will be a wonderful resource to reach young people where they spend so much time – at school!” said Patty Hayes, Director of Public Health – Seattle & King County. “The centers deliver critical health services that they need and are a proven strategy to improve student health as well as academic achievement. Linking health and school achievement is key to our efforts to close the opportunity gap for our youth.”

Making it easier to make healthy choices

The nonprofit organizations that successfully competed for $1.7 million in funding will help King County increase access to healthy foods, create more opportunities for physical activity, and reduce exposure to harmful substances, such as tobacco, vaping, and firearms.

Executive Constantine launched the initiative at Seattle Children’s PlayGarden, an inclusive play-and-learn center where children who have disabilities can play with kids who are developing at a typical rate, a sensory experience that can promote brain development and prevent social isolation. Thanks to the Best Starts for Kids funding, the PlayGarden will be able to extend their hours to the afternoons and weekends so staff can help more kids who have disabilities navigate the garden, play with animals, and interact with other children at no cost to parents or caregivers.

King County will closely measure the performance of each program to ensure they deliver the desired outcomes and will help service providers make any adjustments necessary to maintain funding.

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