New report: Best Starts First Levy Evaluation confirms impactful programmatic and equity work, sets direction for renewed levy 

Best Starts is well into the second year of the 2022-2027 levy and has been working to address recommendations from the First Levy Evaluation. The First Levy Evaluation assessed the successes, challenges, and implementation learnings from the 2016-2021 first levy. The report involved several months of outreach and engagement with our partners and deep quantitative and qualitative analysis.  

The report confirmed that Best Starts has been doing impactful programmatic and equity work. Read the executive summary here and the full report here.

Four Primary Findings

The authors summarized our impact with four primary findings: 

Key Finding #1: The Best Starts for Kids first levy initiative has laid the foundation for systems changes that are driven by meaningful community engagement.•King County’s focus on equity and shift in procedures and policy has increased trust with community partners. 
•Technical assistance helped community-based organizations apply for funding, and capacity building strengthened their organizational capacity and program implementation. 
Key Finding #2: Best Starts demonstrated that centering equity is both a process and an outcome.• Leading with equity and focusing on race and place directed support to the populations historically most harmed by government policies and systems. 
Performance measures show alignment with Best Starts’ commitment to undoing historical inequities.  
Key Finding #3: King County children, youth, and community-based organizations have benefited from additional resources and programming that improved their self-efficacy, skills, and knowledge to the benefit of their communities. •Community partners reported improvements in the quality and quantity of programming that enhanced outcomes for children, youth, and parents/caregivers. 
•Performance measures showed high levels of satisfaction and engagement with Best Starts programming. 
•Performance measures do not tell the full story of Best Starts’ impact and should be paired with narratives and other measures of accountability to tell the full story of Best Starts. 
Key Finding #4: Understanding the context in which the Best Starts initiative has unfolded to date is critical for assessing implementation. Population measures have remained steady or improved over time, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, but often differences by region and by demographic remain. While some positive changes have been observed in King County, there is much work that remains to be done to give kids, young people, and communities the best possible start. 


The report also offered recommendations for how to sustain and deepen our impact throughout this second levy period. Each recommendation area includes a set of detailed suggestions for how to implement the change. 

Recommendation Area #1: Actively sustain the focus on equity in administration of Best Starts. a. Continue centering Best Starts on equity 
b. Continue to improve administrative processes 
c. Continue to refine the RFP process 
d. Consider the unique needs of partners with multiple grants 
e. Continue to provide organizational support 
f. Support sustainability planning of community partners 
Recommendation Area #2: Enhance Evaluation and Performance Measurement to Measure Impact. a. Reconsider the data collection requirements for both population-level indicators and performance measures 
b. Continue to use participatory and equitable evaluation approaches 
c. Focus on impact 
d. Develop a centralized system for data management 
e. Consider collecting additional information on organizations during the RFP process 
f. Consider revising data-sharing agreements with external agencies 
Recommendation Area #3: Continue to Advance Systems Change for Greater Equity. a. Continue to pursue, document, and evaluate systems change 
b. Continue to build the infrastructure and scale up Best Starts 

Thank you & Questions?

Thank you so much to our partners who shared their time and perspectives to inform these findings!  

To learn more, read the executive summary here and the full report here. Questions? Contact

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