New investments from Best Starts for Kids build healthier, safer schools & neighborhoods

Today King County Executive Dow Constantine joined partners from schools and community-based organizations at Seattle Children’s PlayGarden to announce new investments from Best Starts for Kids that will build healthier, safer schools and neighborhoods.

The announcement included $2 million to set up the three new school-based health centers, and $1.7 million in funding to 17 organizations who will partner with Best Starts for Kids to create safe, welcoming places that support health and well-being throughout King County.


Opening 3 new school-based health centers

3 new school-based health centers in will each feature a health clinic, counseling space, a pharmacy, and space for a mobile dental unit. On-site behavioral health providers will provide mental-health support, counseling, and referrals to other services. Three health care providers will partner with schools to deliver services: HealthPoint in Renton, International Community Health Services in Bellevue, and NeighborCare Health on Vashon Island. Best Starts for Kids will provide a total of $6.7 million for the initial construction and ongoing operation of the centers through 2021.

According to the Journal of Adolescent Health, young people 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.

“These new 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.”

$1.7 million will support healthier, safer schools and neighborhoods

Seattle Children’s PlayGarden is one of 17 organizations that will partner with Best Starts to create safer, healthier environments for children and youth throughout King County.

The PlayGarden is an inclusive play-and-learn center where children who have disabilities can play with kids who are typically developing, which can have a positive effect on 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 kids who have disabilities navigate the garden, play with animals, and interact with other children at no cost to parents or caregivers.

“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.

The 17 projects each build on the strengths and resources communities and young people bring to their schools and neighborhoods. Other examples include developing youth leaders in communities of color to advocate healthy food choices, increasing access to trauma-informed physical activities to undeserved teenagers, and a youth-led counter campaign against vaping.

See a full list of partners organizations and program descriptions here.


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