Increasing home-visiting services so more parents and caregivers have the support they need

A wide range of support services for expectant mothers, parents, and caregivers – funded by Executive Dow Constantine’s Best Starts for Kids initiative – are increasing parents’ knowledge and confidence, strengthening parent-child bonding, and improving school readiness throughout King County.

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The services – delivered during home visits by community-based partners – provide parents and caregivers with support for a healthy pregnancy, free screenings for developmental milestones, information on breastfeeding, referrals to treatment for maternal depression, models for healthy parent-child interactions, and more.

“We created and strengthened partnerships that provide parents and caregivers the support they need to get their children off to a strong, healthy start in life,” said Executive Constantine. “By increasing the number of community-based service providers who work with families in their own homes, we are increasing the number of children who arrive at kindergarten caught up with their peers and ready to succeed.”

With funds generated by the voter-approved Best Starts for Kids levy, King County will invest $10 million each year to provide home-based services, such as the following evidence-based and evidence-informed programs:

  • Partnering with the City of Seattle and the United Way of King County to expand the successful Parent-Child Home Program, which offers twice-weekly home visits and provides toys and books. Providers model ways for parents and caregivers to engage with their children to build their cognitive and social-emotional skills.
  • Increasing the capacity of Public Health’s Nurse-Family Partnership program, which matches young, low-income, first-time mothers with nurses during pregnancy and builds their knowledge to support breastfeeding, healthy infant care, and early childhood development.
  • Expanding access to Parents as Teachers, a home-visiting program that equips parents with resources so they can prepare their children for academic success.

King County also is investing in services that are designed by local communities to meet their specific needs. The community-designed programs will reflect cultural values and strengths, responding to needs that are not met by evidence-based and evidence-informed programs that have not been sufficiently researched in diverse communities.

This is the first time the county has made significant investments in home-based services that are designed by the communities where they are provided. King County also is connecting service providers with technical experts who will help them design effective programs that deliver the desired outcomes.

Promoting healthier, more resilient children, youth, families, and communities

The framework for Best Starts for Kids is based on research produced by the University of Washington’s Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences.

Half of the funds generated by the Best Starts for Kids levy are invested in prental-to-5 strategies that promote healthier, more resilient children, youth, families, and communities. That includes home-based services as well as other strategies that increase the health and well-being outcomes of newborns and early development through age 5, when 92 percent of brain growth occurs.

Best Starts for Kids also invests in strategies that sustain the gain as brain growth continues through age 24 and in safe, healthy communities that reinforce progress. It is considered the most comprehensive approach to childhood development in the United States.

Read more in the official press release.