We’d like to thank the 4,000+ parents and caregivers who have completed the Best Starts for Kids (BSK) Health Survey! The BSK Health Survey is still open, and we’ve extended the deadline to late January to make sure all voices are heard. We asked Sheila Capestany, King County Strategic Advisor for Children and Youth and lead of Best Starts for Kids, to answer some of the common questions we are hearing from families.
Q: Why is the survey important?
Capestany: While other studies give us some information about the needs of high schoolers, we miss out on what matters for local families with elementary and very young children. We want to hear from communities who may be left out of other studies, such as those who speak languages other than English. This will help us develop approaches through Best Starts that will meet the culturally and linguistically specific needs of the rich diversity of families in our region.
Q: I’ve been receiving mail and phone calls about this. How was my child’s name chosen for this survey and how did you get our information?
Capestany: Selection for the survey was random. We partnered with public school districts in King County to receive contact information for elementary school parents. (This did not include families that asked schools not to share their information). In addition, we partnered with the Washington State Department of Health to gather contact information of parents who’ve had children in the last five years based on birth certificate data. All information was transferred safely and securely to King County. We’re using the best technology available to make sure all contact information is secure.
Q: Why has the University of Washington contacted me if this is for King County?
Capestany: Our partners at University of Washington (UW) are some of the best at what they do. Because of this, King County has contracted with the UW Social Development Research Group (SDRG) to carry out this survey. We are working together closely to make sure we have high quality information to learn from and inform our decisions.
Q: How will this information be used?
Capestany: This information will be used to learn about what’s needed to support parents, what strengths we can build on, and what’s working for local communities. We understand that some of this information is personal, and so is parenting. It’s not easy to be a parent and there is no one way to raise a child. The questions in the survey were carefully chosen so that we are gathering data that will shape the types of programs and services Best Starts for Kids will be funding in your community. We plan on doing the survey again in the future, so it will also help us see if our programs are making a difference.
Q: How will this information be shared?
Capestany: Our team will make the findings publicly available, so that anyone can access the information. Findings will be shared online through an interactive website, social media, and blogs. We will also plan in-person opportunities for community members to engage with the data in 2017. We plan to find out more about the stories behind the numbers through other ways like focus groups and interviews. Your participation is important so that we all know what’s happening in your community and have a chance to impact services and programs.
Q: Can I take the survey if I haven’t been contacted by University of Washington?
Capestany: Yes! Between January 6th and January 27th the survey will be open to all parents and caregivers with children in elementary school or younger in King County. This information will be combined with the surveys that have already been collected. The survey takes 20-30 minutes, and we encourage you to take it online here and share with all your friends and family!
Q: Is my information secure and confidential?
Capestany: Definitely. All of your answers are confidential. This means that we will remove children’s names from the data once it’s collected. It’s safe to provide this type of information over the internet or to trained phone interviewers. Information is collected using strict security standards. Only staff who are trained and given permission to work with confidential information will see your responses. Please keep in mind, your participation is voluntary and you can skip any question or stop taking the survey at any time. When it comes time to report the findings, the information will be in summary form only so no one family or child will be able to be identified. As a reminder, we will never ask for any information such as social security numbers, credit cards, bank account information, or donations. If you want to make sure it’s really the UW calling or you’ve misplaced your letter, you can reach the SDRG group at 1-888-313-9575.
Q: Am I required to participate?
A: No, it’s not required. We do hope that you will choose to participate. We value your input and want to make sure the survey reflects the rich diversity of our King County families. Best Starts for Kids is about making sure ALL kids are healthy, happy, and are supported as they grow up. Your voice will help to inform us. We understand life gets very busy, and are very thankful for any time you’re able to give to complete the survey.