Yes for Best Starts | Letter to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

I am writing to ask readers to please vote “yes” for the Best Start for Kids initiative – King County Proposition 1.

In my opinion this is the most important measure you will vote on this election but have probably heard the least about. It invests money to support kids who have a tough start in life.

Many say this is a “nice to do” but way too expensive. However it is also a way of saving tax dollars in the long run. Right now we are already paying 75 percent of our King County tax dollars on incarcerated individuals who had a tough start in life. This initiative hopes to move things upstream and prevent problems, supporting families early. With the idea it’s so much better, and cheaper, to support a child early than fix a broken adult.

When it passes it will fund early intervention programs, proven by research at the University of Washington as effective in supporting families and saving money.

Opponents say that the levy is “just a blank check.” However, there are built-in accountability committees to oversee that the money is spent only in proven effective programs. This committee will also ensure that the money is spent evenly throughout the county. This will ensure that this money does make it to Enumclaw and not just stay in Seattle.

For Enumclaw this would mean funds continue to support the WIC clinic housed at J.J. Smith and maternity support services.

It would also increase funding for the Nurse Family Partnership which provides a nurse for two years to support teen moms. The data shows that for every $1 spent, $5 is saved by reduced ER visits, less child abuse, less convictions, etc.

It could also allow local organizations such as Enumclaw Youth and Family Services to apply for money, to prevent domestic violence, substance abuse and homelessness.

These are the concrete details. It is a six-year levy that would increase property taxes by 14 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. If passed, the levy is expected to raise about $65 million per year and cost the average King County property owner an estimated $56 per year.

Fifty percent of Best Starts’ funds will be directed toward health services for children under 5 years old and pregnant women, 35 percent will support youth by working to prevent issues such as depression and substance abuse, 10 percent will work to create secure and healthy communities by lowering barriers to services such as low-income housing, and the remaining 15 percent will strive to reverse youth homelessness trends and support the research elements of the program.

So please vote yes on Proposition 1 – Best Start For Kids.This will save money in the long run and save the tragic loss of potential in young people’s lives.

Helen Countryman