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Best Starts for Kids Initiative Supports Many YES Programs

Lidia Harding
BGLAD Blog Grants School-based
Best Starts for Kids photo

Best Starts for Kids is a voter-approved King County initiative led by Executive Dow Constantine that helps put every youth in our King County communities on a path toward lifelong success by funding community-based organizations working with kids, including Youth Eastside Services (YES). The initiative invests an average of $65 million per year in early intervention and prevention strategies that promote healthier, more resilient children, youth, and families. At YES, this funding allows for the newest evidence-based practices to be available to all children, youth, and families, regardless of their ability to pay.

Since the passage of this initiative, YES has been able to collaborate with King County to extend the reach of the initiative’s impact through multiple YES programs.

School-Based Health Center

YES, in partnership with International Community Health Services (ICHS) and the Bellevue School District, received multi-year funding from Best Starts for Kids to launch the first-ever East King County, school-based health center, at Highland Middle School. Since then, the center has enabled 99 students to access medical, dental, and behavioral health services within the school. The past year, YES has been able to expand services and provide the students with summer support through the Highland Health Center Summer Camp.


In addition to those funds, in 2019 YES partnered with the Lake Washington School District to receive $169,481 per year from Best Starts for Kids to implement a research-based universal mental health screening program called SBIRT (Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment), in middle schools across the district. The program has received attention throughout the community and in the local press. This program has provided screenings in 14 different schools in the Lake Washington School District, screening 678 students, and identifying over 150 students in crisis who were able to receive intervention services within 24 hours of the screening.


Best Starts for Kids awarded YES a three-year grant of $123,060 to help fund our BGLAD support group. BGLAD is an open, weekly drop-in LGBTQ+ support group that provides a safe and affirming space for youth exploring or seeking support for their gender and/or sexual identities. In 2019, BGLAD supported over 50 LGBTQ+ and questioning youth.

Homelessness Prevention Program

YES was also awarded $75,000/year through the initiative to implement our Homelessness Prevention Program. This program helps prevent the risk of imminent homelessness among local families by providing case management, referrals, resources, and supportive services. Since implementation, this program at YES has support over 200 families.

Because of all this, and much more, we at YES would like to offer our warmest thanks to everyone involved with the Best Starts for Kids Initiative. Together, we can ensure that ALL young people receive the services they need to thrive.

If you would like to join in support of children, youth and families in East King County, please consider donating today in order to help provide the best, evidence-based practices.

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