Supporting and Engaging Families in Early Support for Infants and Toddlers services and Out-of-Home Care in King County: Findings from a Landscape Analysis 

In early 2021, Best Starts for Kids partnered with Cardea to conduct a landscape analysis focusing on children and families at the intersection of Early Support for Infants and Toddlers (ESIT) services and the child welfare system. The purpose of this landscape analysis was to: 

  • Assess outcomes of current models for providing ESIT services to children in out-of-home care and/or involved in the child welfare system 
  • Explore the intersection of ESIT and the child welfare system and how service models do or do not promote equitable outcomes for children and families engaged in ESIT services 
  • Identify what King County could do to better support and engage parents and families and improve these systems to function efficiently and promote equity 

The landscape analysis was co-designed in partnership with a six-person Community Expert Council (CEC) composed of families and caregivers of color in King County, particularly American Indian/Alaska Native and Black, who had received ESIT services and had been in involved in out-of-home care and/or the child welfare system. 

Experiences, feedback, and stories were gathered via three family listening sessions and four provider discussion groups held in winter 2021/2022. A literature review and analysis of available data was conducted. However, the use of quantitative data and outcomes analysis was limited, partially due to COVID restrictions but also because of privacy protections. Additionally, child welfare staff were invited but did not participate in any of the provider discussion groups, so their voices and experiences are not reflected in the analysis.  

Landscape Analysis Findings

Click here to download the full report

Families expressed a need for systemic changes within ESIT and child welfare, specifically that services should be culturally and linguistically responsive to ensure access for all families. Families also recommended that ESIT and child welfare systems provide information and increase awareness of supportive services to families. 

Providers observed and acknowledged both stigma and racism within ESIT and child welfare systems impacting how services are provided to families. They also report a need for more effective communication between ESIT and child welfare to improve services for children and families. 


The final report outlines promising practices, emerging themes and recommendations from both families and caregivers as well as ESIT and family support providers.  

  • Promote equity by enhancing services that meet families where they are 
  • Facilitate cross-systems partnerships that efficiently respond to families’ needs 
  • Strengthen and transform the ESIT and child welfare workforces through training and capacity development 
  • Make ESIT services available and accessible to all families 

The findings from the landscape analysis will be incorporated into the county’s existing ESIT strategic priorities: 

  • Engaging Families as Experts and Leaders 
  • Expanding Language Access 
  • Strengthening Inclusive Workforce 
  • Cultivating and Deepening Community Partnerships 
  • Supporting Child and Family Relationships/Wellbeing 

Additional data analysis regarding children jointly served by ESIT and the child welfare system is warranted. The report, findings and recommendations will be shared with the state Department of Children, Youth and Families to inform their work and to strengthen cross systems collaborations.

To learn more, read the full report here.

Questions or Feedback?

If you have any questions, please contact 

If you have ideas or feedback about the plan to support children, families, and providers involved in ESIT and child welfare, please email Liz Espinosa-Snow at 

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