7 things families should know about the Best Starts for Kids Health Survey

Do families in our region receive the child care they need? How are families handling the demands of raising children? Are kids thriving in supportive school environments?

Beginning this week, about 15,000 randomly chosen families with children in elementary school or younger will receive a postcard and letter asking them to take the Best Starts for Kids Health Survey to help Best Starts for Kids answer these important questions about our kids’ health and well-being.

Developed in consultation with local experts and trusted community-based organizations, the Best Starts for Kids Health Survey is a community-wide survey that helps us understand the greatest strengths and needs for our children, and changes in our community. In 2017 and 2019, almost 6,000 families per year participated in the health survey.

Whether you’re a parent or caregiver, work closely with parents, or both, please help us spread the word about the Best Starts for Kids Health Survey, and encourage parents who receive the survey in the coming months to take it. With your help, we are striving to collect data that actually reflects the strengths and needs of all kids and families in King County.

As the survey launches this week, here are the 7 things families need to know.

1. Your answers help us understand what matters most for your kids, family, and community

The survey is an opportunity for you to share what matters most to you and your family. The questions you answer about your child’s health, well-being, strengths, and needs provide information about our youngest children, their families, and communities. If you receive a letter or phone call asking you to take the survey in the winter into the spring, please take it. Your voice matters.

Sample topics we may ask about:

Child’s well-being Healthy weight Community supports 
Parent-child connection Physical activity Basic needs 
Breastfeeding School experiences Family strengths 
Early childhood experiences Childcare and after-school care Parent supports 

2. The information you share guides how we invest in our kids’ health and well-being

Best Starts for Kids is designed to build on the strengths of King County families and communities to help babies, children and young people thrive. Your survey answers provide Best Starts for Kids and our community partners information about how our youngest children and their families are doing, and what we can do to support them. Over time, the survey helps us track whether our efforts are making a difference in the health of King County children.

3. The survey is available in 7 languages. You can take it online, request a paper version, or take it over phone with the help of a bilingual, bicultural interviewer

The survey is designed to meaningfully reach community members who aren’t often included in other studies, like those who speak a language other than English. Participants can take the survey in English, Chinese, Korean, Russian, Spanish, Somali, and Vietnamese. If you are selected to take the survey, you can take it online using a personal access code included in your survey letter, request a paper copy, or call the phone number included to take the survey by phone. Bilingual phone interviewers are available to those who wish to take the phone survey in languages other than English.

We encourage all families to take the health survey. Survey participants are chosen randomly and directly contacted in the Winter and Spring. King County worked closely with public school districts and the State Department of Health to safely and securely obtain names and parent/guardian contact information for children in elementary school or younger. In Spring and Summer, the survey will be open to everyone who is interested to take it.

4. Families randomly chosen to take the survey will receive letters and phone calls from the University of Washington

Best Starts for Kids is partnering with the University of Washington to conduct this survey. If you are randomly selected to participate, you will receive letters in the mail or phone calls from the University of Washington School of Social Work Research Division.

5. We’re using the best technology to keep your information secure

We take confidentiality seriously. All of your survey answers are secure and confidential. Children’s names are removed, and only trained employees who work with confidential information can see your responses. We save information using secure technology, and only share summarized results publicly so no one family or individual can be identified. We will never ask for any information such as social security numbers, credit cards, bank account information, or donations.

6. We are committed to community ownership of our survey data

We are committed to putting the power into the hands of communities to shape the story their data tells. In addition to sharing our results publicly, we will host small, community-specific “data dives.” At these events, community members will have the opportunity to discuss the survey results, tell us what it means to them, build relationships and ask questions.  Once we are confident about what we’re learning, we will be able to share it more widely with the appropriate context. You can learn more about our approach to community-owned data on this blog series and stay tuned for results from 2020 data dives.

Best Starts for Kids Health Survey Webpage

For more information, contact BSK.Data@Kingcounty.gov or 1-888-313-9575

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