Initial Findings from the Best Starts for Kids Health Survey: Families Share how they’ve been Impacted by COVID-19

The Best Starts for Kids Health Survey (BSKHS) is a critical tool that helps us understand how young children in King County and their families are doing and guides how we will invest in the health and wellbeing of our communities for the second Best Starts for Kids levy.


If you are a parent or caregiver of a child in elementary school or younger, you can still participate through our 10 minute survey! We appreciate everyone who has shared their experiences with us so far and look forward to hearing from more parents and caregivers before the survey closes on September 19th, 2021.


To better understand how families with young children have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Best Starts data team reviewed and analyzed early survey responses to a new question that was added this year: “please describe any changes, positive or negative, that the COVID pandemic has had on this child/your family.” The responses that we heard from parents and caregivers reaffirmed what we’ve heard from many community partners. For example:

  • Profound changes in children’s social-emotional development and mental health may require resources to help children move forward.
  • Many families faced challenges with remote learning, especially those with younger children and children with developmental disabilities. However, with online learning some parents appreciated having a view into the classroom, and some students did thrive with an online learning environment.
  • Government programs, such as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and financial assistance were important sources of support for families to meet their basic needs.
  • Access to open, affordable, and stable childcare were critical in supporting families and children.
  • Women have been disproportionately impacted by the stressors of COVID and the trade-off between working and childcare.

Sharing what we’ve heard from parents and caregivers helps Best Starts and our partners continue to adapt and support our children, youth, and families in our ongoing COVID-19 response, centering Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) communities who are most impacted by racism and the pandemic.

To learn more and hear directly from King County parents and caregivers, read about our initial report below. We will update our findings in the fall once we have heard from all parents and caregivers who took the survey this year.

Analyzing this data was a powerful experience for the our team. Even in brief comments, parents shared openly and vulnerably about their families’ experiences during the pandemic, often with humor and resilience. And time and again as we read them, we paused to acknowledge the depth of hardship and loss that many families faced. From newly blossoming friendships between siblings to missing faraway family members; from infants who were anxious outside of their homes to school-aged kids stepping up to meet virtual learning needs; and from financial stress to gratitude for the basics, families shared the whole range of emotions they have been through and they resonated strongly with us. We are truly grateful to each and every parent and caregiver who, in the midst of so much change and challenge, has taken the time to share their experiences with us through the survey!

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