Supporting Communities that Thrive

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Supporting Communities that Thrive

Key Learnings from Best Starts for Kids Partners July 2021

Best Starts for Kids

Key learnings from Best Starts for Kids Partners By listening to what Best Starts partners have shared with us at Cardea about program implementation and backed by evaluation data, we’ve identified five key themes critical to Best Starts partners, spanning all strategies. 1. Leading with Equity

5. Working to Transform Policies, Systems, & Environments

2. Centering Culture & Language

5 Evaluation Themes 4. Building Organizational & Community Strength

3. Supporting Communities that Thrive

In this case study series, we share stories and data from Best Starts partners that highlight these five themes. 2

Cardea analyzed stories and data shared by Best Starts for Kids partners Earlier this year, Best Starts for Kids asked Cardea to develop this series of case studies to document key learnings from across the Best Starts for Kids initiative. Best Starts grounds its work in community knowledge as well as science and research in an effort to continually reflect community needs and deepen the initiative’s impact. To support this effort, Best Starts partners regularly share stories about their work along with data, including information about who participates in Best Starts programming. Best Starts analyzes these data and stories each year to share learnings back with their partners, their communities, and the residents of King County through community conversations, publications, and the Best Starts for Kids data dashboard. This case study series features data and stories that have been shared with Best Starts since the initiative launched. Cardea also partnered with local artist, Michael B. Maine, to capture Best Starts partners in their own words. Nine partner organizations also participated in conversations this spring so we could better represent their work related to the case study themes. Although so many Best Starts partners could be highlighted in this series, these nine organizations were selected because the stories they had previously shared with Best Starts were particularly wellaligned with the themes.

Best Starts for Kids supported communities to continue to thrive Partner organizations have supported communities with continuing to thrive in the face of challenges. By trusting that communities know their needs best, facilitating connections among neighbors, and supporting young people with planning for their future, Best Starts strengthened the resilience of children, teens, and families throughout King County. Best Starts for Kids builds thriving communities by trusting partners to design programs that best meet the needs of community members With support from Best Starts, partners work within communities to strengthen social connections, resulting in robust social support networks Through strengths-based approaches, Best Starts partners build the confidence of community members to be their own agents of change in support of thriving communities For more information about Best Starts for Kids please visit the 2020 Annual Report and Implementation Plan. About Best Starts for Kids

Best Starts for Kids


Best5 Starts for Kids

What we found

Best Starts for Kids supports partners in cultivating thriving communities by keeping families stably housed, preparing young people for academic and career success, and building networks that lead to both employment opportunities and policy or systems changes. With support from Best Starts, partners strengthen the ability of their communities to remain healthy and thriving in the face of challenges.

Best Starts for Kids partners supported thriving communities through programs that prioritized trust, relationships, and protective factors Best Starts for Kids

Best Starts partners supported community resilience through relationship-based programs that strengthened protective factors Best Starts partners shared information about their work to support thriving communities in challenging times through performance measures and narrative reports. This section incudes an overview of how Best Starts has supported thriving communities by cultivating community resilience. Best Starts partner organizations work to support thriving communities resulted in •

Most (96%) households remaining stably housed after completing a homelessness prevention program

High levels of academic and career achievement among youth and young adults

Strengthened community partnerships that opened doors to employment opportunities and brought new partners together to work toward policy and systems change

What we found

Best Starts for Kids


Through the Youth and Family Homelessness Prevention Initiative (YFHPI), Best Starts bolstered the resilience of over 3,500 households since 2017 by supporting families at risk of homelessness The Youth and Family Homelessness Prevention Initiative (YFHPI) provides intensive case management and financial support to young people and families with children who are at imminent risk of homelessness. MoreT than one-time rent assistance, the approach provides flexible support that families can use as needed and partnership and advocacy that helps families and youth establish housing stability that lasts.


Of households exited a homelessness prevention program and remained in stable housing

To see more data for the YFHPI strategy, check out the data dashboard What we found


Best10Starts for Kids

Through the Community Supports programs of the Stopping the School-to-Prison Pipeline strategy, Best Starts’ partners supported youth and young adults with achieving their educational or career goals

The Community Supports programs link young people to relationships, guidance, and resources within their communities. They support youth to achieve goals such as increasing school attendance, improving academic performance or applying for and getting a job.


Of youth and young adults served between 2019 and 2020 achieved a goal upon program completion

To see more data for the Community Supports programs, check out the data dashboard What we found


Communities of Opportunity supported thriving communities through job creation and new partnerships Communities of Opportunity (COO) is a growing movement of partners who believe every community can be a healthy, thriving community and that equity and racial justice are both necessary and achievable. COO is a key pillar of Best Starts as children, youth, and families can thrive when their communities are T and systems support healthy and when our policies community priorities. COO is setting a course for positive change throughout the region by addressing racial equity, tapping into existing community expertise and leadership, and strengthening community capacity to take on local challenges and bringing new resources into communities.

912 People were hired into a job as a result of COO activities


New partnerships were developed in progress towards policy and/or systems change

To see more data for Communities of Opportunity, check out the data dashboard What we found


Best Starts for Kids

Best 13 Starts for Kids

Best Starts partners shared that they worked with the community they serve to build resilience in the following ways

Increased participants’ selfconfidence, ability to problem-solve, and ability to navigate systems through strengths-based and culturally-matched programming

What we found

Strengthened social support networks within communities through activities focused on building relationships and creating communities of belonging

Supported young adults with achieving their educational and career goals though mentoring and coaching


15 Starts for Kids Best

Best Starts partners’ flexibility, creativity, and commitment to problem-solving in partnership with community enabled them to support thriving communities in challenging times Best Starts for Kids

Best Starts partners continued to support thriving communities during COVID-19 by

Pivoting flexible funding to meet basic needs, provide personal protective equipment, and ensure stability

Transitioning to online programming, training families how to use the technology, and providing devices to families

What we found

Translating resources into additional languages and hiring new staff to expand cultural and linguistic capacity

Providing information about COVID-19 and recommended safety measures to concerned program participants

Increasing online presence to promote services, remain connected to families, and reduce isolation


Best Starts trusted partners to know what their communities needed to thrive From the beginning, it seems that there's been a lot of messaging [from Best Starts for Kids around] ‘We trust you. We know that you know your communities the best and that you can design a program that will really work for them.’ The investment in the community and the trust with the community-based organizations, has been a really great thing to see…and definitely our families, I feel, are getting the benefits of that investment.

Kirsten Gabele

Coalition for Refugees from Burma Investing Early

What we found

19 Starts for Kids Best

Stories of Impact

Organizations support community resilience through culturally-matched programming rooted in relationship-building that strengthens protective factors Stories from Best Starts for Kids Partners: ▪ Coalition of Refugees from Burma

Supporting communities that thrive

Best Starts for Kids partner, Coalition for Refugees from Burma, shares their story of supporting thriving communities in challenging times. Coalition for Refugees from Burma’s story provides rich, specific examples of how Best Starts partners amplified community resilience that we heard from multiple organizations. Coalition for Refugees from Burma is highlighted to demonstrate the direct ways in which their programs supported thriving communities.

Coalition for Refugees from Burma

Stories of impact


The Coalition for Refugees from Burma consistently sets the foundation for thriving communities From its inception in 2009, the Coalition for Refugees from Burma (CRB) team understood the powerful role relationship-building coupled with culturally-matched services played in supporting the resilience of immigrant and refugee families. Kirsten Gabele’s early learning team at CRB builds families’ self-sufficiency and resilience by implementing high-quality, accessible programs that serve communities in the right way, at the right time, and enable caregivers to become their own advocates for change. Programs at CRB are centered around three key concepts Coalition for Refugees from Burma

1. Families are partners in the work 2. Knowledge is power and the way to a better future 3. Leadership exists within each community and partnering with leaders enables culturally responsive service delivery

Stories of impact


We wanted to help parents grow their network, we wanted them to be able to meet and spend time with other parents who live near them, who had children the same age. Just to bring them out of isolation and give them a chance to connect with other [parents] and talk about things with the hope that, going forward that they could have a strong network of well-connected parents who could share information and advocate.

Kirsten Gabele

Coalition for Refugees from Burma Investing Early

Stories of impact

The Coalition for Refugees from Burma built protective factors among families In partnership with Best Starts for Kids’ Community-Designed Programs, CRB was able to expand its Leadership, Early Learning, Access Program (LEAP), which provides home-based, early learning services to diverse, multi-ethnic communities living in South King County. The goal of LEAP is to enhance parenting knowledge, healthy child development, school readiness, and parent-child attachment. LEAP also focuses on cultural knowledge sharing between parents and home visitors, building parent networks through gatherings and events, and providing opportunities for children to play and learn together. With support from LEAP home visitors, parents strengthen their parenting skills, gain confidence in navigating systems, and build networks of social support, which position them to thrive in the face of challenges.

Stories of impact

Coalition for Refugees from Burma


The Coalition for Refugees from Burma stayed connected with families in challenging times When COVID-19 forced home visitors to stop in-person visits, CRB found a way to quickly adapt their approach and continued to serve families. With support from Best Starts, CRB was able to give every LEAP family a tablet equipped with a 5G hotspot, so they could connect with their home visitor remotely. In addition, CRB provided basic needs supports to families, which enabled caregivers to remain engaged in the early childhood development and school readiness program components that supported their child’s continued growth and development. Coalition for Refugees from Burma

Stories of impact


I’ve never been able to run a program like this, that is so full, that you can really say what is our dream, and so many parts of that dream can be realized with the support [of Best Starts…] There's so much more flexibility. I appreciate, so much, the investment in the Community Designed Programs.

Kirsten Gabele

Coalition for Refugees from Burma Investing Early

Stories of impact

In their own words… Coalition for Refugees from Burma

Stories of impact


Thank you

Contributors: Coalition for Refugees from Burma Kirsten Gabele, Early Learning Program Manager Claudia Padilla, Cultural Leader Ayet Licona Estrada, LEAP Parent

Cardea is a national, women of color-led organization, based in Seattle. We envision a world in which optimal health and wellbeing, equity, and justice are realities for all communities. For 50 years, we have been committed to addressing complex program, policy, and systems issues by cocreating solutions that center community strengths and wisdom.

Authors & Contributors MJ Coppock Avanthi Jayasuriya Kelsey Liu Olivia Lutz

Elizabeth Menstell Wendy Nakatsukasa-Ono Erica Wei Wu Amanda Winters

Michael B. Maine uses photography, video, and audio to work with people to find, develop, and share their stories. Rather than Michael telling their story, he provides a platform for a person to tell their own. With this process, he hopes to create pieces that are authentic, unique, and beautiful.

Best Starts partners supported community resilience through relationship-based programs that strengthened protective factors

This work is made possible by Best Starts for Kids. Best Starts for Kids strengthens families and communities so that babies are born healthy, children thrive and establish a strong foundation for life, and young people grow into happy, healthy adults. Learn more at

Best Starts for Kids