By Abigail Echo-Hawk and Barbara Langdon, Board Chairs of the Children and Youth Advisory Board
Last month, the Best Starts for Kids plan was unanimously approved by the King County Council. As Board Chairs for the Children and Youth Advisory Board, we were proud to see that through the legislative review process, the resulting plan amplified the commitment to equity and social justice—a commitment that has been at the forefront of our Board’s work. Read below for an excerpt of how equity is included in the finalized plan.
What we mean by equity
Our Children and Youth Advisory Board has engaged in meaningful, and at times, challenging discussions about equity, social justice and racism. As the advisory body for the majority of Best Starts for Kids-funded programs and the King County Youth Action Plan, our Board felt that creating a shared sense of understanding for what we mean by equity would be critical to our work. Our members represent the diverse communities, organizations, ideas and geographic areas of King County. Therefore, developing shared consensus shows that by engaging in meaningful dialogue, respect for different opinions and listening to the experiences of our residents, we can emerge with frameworks that resonate across our region.
As Board Chairs for the Children and Youth Advisory Board, we wanted to share with the community our adopted Equity Statement:
Equity is an ardent journey toward well-being as defined by the affected
Equity demands sacrifice and redistribution of power and resources in order to break systems of oppression, heal continuing wounds, and realize justice
To achieve equity and social justice, we must first root out deeply entrenched systems of racism
Equity proactively builds strong foundations of agency, is vigilant for unintended consequences, and boldly aspires to be restorative
Equity is disruptive and uncomfortable and not voluntary
Equity is fundamental to the community we want to build
This statement will guide the direction and actions of our Children and Youth Advisory Board, but we hope this statement will also be shared and used by other community leaders and organizations as we work collectively to achieve equity throughout our systems.
Excerpt from the finalized plan adopted by County Council:
Consistent with our ESJ Ordinance and the historical and persistent patterns of inequities, King County focuses on equity impacts on communities of color, low-income populations, and limited English-speaking residents when undertaking a body of work. We recognize that true opportunity requires that every person has access to the benefits of our society regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, ability or other aspects of who we are, what we look like, where we come from, where we live and what we believe in.
Best Starts for Kids recognizes historic and structural inequities and the fact that these have impacted populations to varying degrees. Some of the resulting disparities and disproportionalities may be difficult to document because of lack of adequate data. Thus, Best Starts for Kids will invest investments aimed at expanding quantity and quality of data. Best Starts for Kids will also seek to contribute to systemic and structural solutions as it continues to partner with communities to develop and implement programs that work for them.