County Council approves creation of Countywide Task Force to propose comprehensive plan for children and youth

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Metropolitan King County Council gave unanimous approval at its January 21 meeting to legislation that ensures that young people in King County have access to the resources and opportunities they need to become healthy, productive adults, calling for the development of a Youth Action Plan to create a holistic approach to deliver needed resources to young people throughout King County.

The adopted legislation calls for the creation of a broadly-based task force to develop a Youth Action Plan that would include the following elements:

  • Mission, vision, and defined outcomes that enable the County to advance its Strategic Plan and social justice and equity goals as they relate to youth,
  • A Bill of Rights for Youth,
  • Whether a single point of accountability should be established to lead the County’s children and youth services, programs and policies, and if so, it’s form, role and duties,
  • Identification of reform efforts and efficiencies, gaps, opportunities to take programs to scale, and recommendations to overcoming barriers to success,
  • Prioritization of programs and methodologies and recommendations related to funding,
  • Evaluation and reporting structure and implementation timeline.
The proposal calls on the County Executive to appoint members to a Youth Action Plan Task Force. The members of the task force would include elected officials, leaders from Seattle and suburban cities, and non-profit community partners that serve infants, children, youth and young adults. It would be charged with conducting information meetings with community members, stakeholders and consumers to keep interested parties informed on the development of the Plan.

“As a kid growing up in Renton, King County played an important role in my life. I played in our county parks, and received health care at our Public Health clinics. Today’s kids deserve our best efforts to ensure that they have every opportunity to grow up healthy, safe, and succeed in life,” said Councilmember Rod Dembowski, the prime sponsor of the ordinance. 
“This legislation brings together the broad spectrum of participants from throughout the region who help King County’s children and youth to recommit our collective efforts and honor our obligations as adults to the next generation. I look forward to working with these leaders to reform, renew and reinvest in our work to help King County’s kids achieve their full potential.”

Over the last 50 years, King County has been a leader in supporting programs for children, youth and young adults – including developing sports fields in local neighborhoods, providing public health visits for low-income infants and children, establishing a Youth and Family Services Network to help at-risk teens and families, and assisting youth who have become involved with the criminal justice system to take a fresh path. However, the Great Recession reduced or eliminated County support for many programs, and the programs still receiving county funding are operated through many different agencies, too often with little coordination between them.

As part of an initiative adopted by the Council in 2012, a countywide task force has worked to develop a plan for a collaborative, accountable, and integrated delivery of social safety net services in King County. The Youth Action Plan builds on that work.

The goal of the Youth Action Plan is to ensure that King County’s Strategic Plan objective to “promote opportunities for all communities and individuals to realize their full potential,” is applied to the County’s young people and reflected across all County departments, programs and initiatives. The plan also seeks to ensure that King County is a strong partner with the state, cities, private sector, non-profit and philanthropic organizations.

“As a former member of the King County Children and Families Commission, I am pleased to see King County leaders renewing their commitment to focusing on our community’s children and youth,” said State Representative Ruth Kagi, Chair of the House Early Learning and Human Services Committee. “The proposed legislation offers fresh hope for prioritization and investment in our kids.”

The Youth Action Task Force is charged with preparing a Youth Action Plan for the King County Council by the spring of 2015. 

“The Sheriff’s Office is proud to participate in King County’s Youth Action Plan,” said King County Sheriff John Urquhart. “Devoting more attention and resources to our youth will pay dividends in the long run by helping them to succeed and keeping kids out of the criminal justice system.”


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