Every other year, we ask our community to help us understand the strengths and needs of King County families through the Best Starts for Kids Health Survey (BSKHS). In order to prioritize equity and community voice in this process, we also partner with communities to hold a series of conversations about the survey data, known as “community cafes,” to make sure our data equitably and accurately represents King County families.
Before the survey opens on June 1, we’re sharing how we partner with communities to help understand what we learn.
This is the first blog post in a three part series, read the second blog post here.
The first series of data dives was described in a 2018 “Community Owned Data” blog series. We incorporated feedback from the data dives and repeated the BSKHS in 2019. In 2020, we again reached out to the leaders at the Community Café Collaborative who supported 13 liaisons from specific linguistic, ethnic and cultural communities to host Data Dive Community Cafes. A total of 181 adults and 287 children participated from communities identifying as African American, Alaska Native American Indian, Asian Indian, Cambodian, Chinese, Ethiopian, Korean, Latino, LGBTQ2S+, Pacific Islander (Pasifika), Russian, Somali, and Vietnamese.
Across the cafes, participants expressed appreciation for the opportunity to connect with one another and felt reassured that their voices were being respected. This first blog in the series looks at how families handled the demands of parenting.
Community participants reflected on data that was collected in 2019, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. This process offered unique insights into the experiences of a group of community members who were able to share the stories behind the numbers from the BKS Health Survey, but the COVID-19 pandemic likely changed the situation for families.
The BSK Health survey results found that almost 60% of children aged 6 months through 5th grade in King County had a caregiver who was coping “very well” with the demands of child raising. Among respondents identifying as Asian, approximately half of all respondents stated that they handled the day-to-day demands of raising children very well. A few community groups, such as Korean, Chinese, and Vietnamese respondents, felt that the actual number should be higher, given the cultural norm of high expectations and parental sacrifice for children.
About 2 in 3 Black/African American parents reported they were coping with the demands of raising children very well, but many families at the African American community café felt that the data was vague and did not ask the right questions: “Culturally, we would like to say we are doing well. We are “overcomers,” it doesn’t matter how hard things are “we are doing well.” As a culture we always are rising up to the challenge, but does that mean that our kids are faring well? Was this question explained to the survey takers?”
Somali participants felt that many problems faced by children, such as depression or anxiety, are not commonly discussed in their culture, which makes it difficult to provide resources. Some community participants added that people often shy away from reporting negative results, and cultural barriers make it very difficult to handle demands of children:
“If they admit their faults or struggles raising a kid, they’ll lose their children to CPS [Child Protective Services] or…for instance, they fear telling the doctor their kids mental health issues because they fear they’ll just throw them in a psych ward.”Somali Community Café participant
Similar themes were heard across other community cafes. Latino families (63%) felt that the data overestimated the actual experiences and felt that people who participate in surveys tend to answer questions more positively, while Russian families similarly reported that the questions were likely misunderstood or were culturally inappropriate.
However, community members recognized the value of BSK Health Survey data and expressed enthusiasm about getting involved in data collection efforts to raise awareness about the survey in their respective communities. As one participant in the Pasifika Café said, “the data matters and work needs to be done to figure out the best way to do outreach, make the language of the survey more culturally relevant, and inform the community about how the survey would help their community.”
Please contact BSK.Data@Kingcounty.gov if you have further questions.