King County’s Best Starts for Kids (BSK) levy, which is up for voter renewal on August 3, funds two important Northwest Center programs:
IMPACT provides consultation and professional development trainings to spread NWC’s mission and vision of inclusion to all of King County, with the ultimate goal of changing the landscape of early learning and childcare across the county to fully support children of all abilities.
Our Early Supports team, thanks to BSK funding, was able to meet our families’ needs throughout the pandemic by pivoting to a telehealth model and delivering needed resources directly to families. Funding from BSK also helped Early Supports launch equity initiatives including language access and racial equity projects to make materials and services accessible to more families.
Since King County voters passed the BSK levy in 2015, more than $368 million has been distributed to hundreds of other programs. These include:
Funded through a property tax, BSK was designed to help children realize their potential to be happy, healthy, safe, and thriving. The levy “Invests Early” by funding programs to support pregnant parents and children prenatal through five years old, and then “Sustains the Gain” through grants that support children, youth and young adults ages 5 through 24.
If BSK is not renewed on the August 3 ballot, funding is set to expire on December 31, 2021.
Join us as we mark a civil rights milestone: the 50th anniversary of the passage of Washington State House Bill 90 - Education for All. This virtual conversation, featuring leading voices in disability rights and education, will look at the history of the groundbreaking law and discuss what’s needed for the future of inclusive education. You can register here.
Below, meet our panel of advocates, educators, and professionals dedicated to equity, justice, and inclusion for those within the disability community.
Meet the Panelists:
In 1967, almost 200,000 individuals with significant disabilities were living in state institutions. Before the passing of the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) of 1975, people with disabilities were likely to have inequitable opportunities in life. State institutions provided only minimal clothing, food, and shelter; furthermore, people with disabilities were merely accommodated rather than assessed and educated.
The Individuals with Disabilities Act ensures that all children with disabilities are entitled to a free appropriate public education to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living. Prior to IDEA, over 4 million children with disabilities were denied appropriate access to public education. Many children were denied entry into public school altogether, while others were placed in segregated classrooms or in regular classrooms without adequate support for the individual needs.
Providing proper education to children with disabilities requires a diverse cultural, racial, and ethnic sensitivity. Resources regarding placement for children with disabilities were sparse, with parents not being afforded the opportunity to get involved in the planning or placement decisions regarding their children and their specific needs.
We're living through an extraordinary moment in time. But what gives me hope is our equally extraordinary commitment to serving our community.
When COVID-19 first hit, Northwest Center's priority was to continue to take care of our employees and deliver on our mission for our kids, families, and clients. We knew we would have to work harder than ever to connect to the communities we serve.
As the effects of the pandemic continue to take their toll, I couldn’t be prouder of this organization for our ability to adapt and innovate so we could continue serving a community that needs us more than ever. And we couldn’t have done it without you.
Every second counts when it comes to Early Supports services—birth to 3 is the most critical time to reach children with disabilities or delays. In March 2020, we quickly pivoted to teletherapy, and we continue to provide remote services today—and more. Northwest Center has been a lifeline for more than 300 families: making deliveries of necessities ranging from occupational therapy tools to basic needs supplies while providing critical services and emotional support.
After a brief forced closure, our schools were able to reopen, but with extensive adjustments: new lesson plans accommodating changing guidelines; learning to convey emotions to babies while wearing a mask; establishing new, reassuring routines when parents could no longer drop kids at their classroom doors; and accommodating remote learning by juggling schedules and shifting to a longer day.
Our teachers put even more of their hearts and souls into our work to deliver effective solutions. Our parents recently shared that Northwest Center has served as a vital “safety and support net” for them to count on during these trying times.
The isolation and shutdowns of COVID-19 hit the disability community the hardest. Our team jumped into action, flexed their innovative muscles, and created new ways to actively support every client—even those who were out of work, but still needed to sharpen their employment skills. Our clients received virtual trainings tailored to their progress, and benefited from the much-needed human connection.
More of our clients have been able to find employment and return to work in the past few weeks, and despite all they've faced, our clients' success is once again shining through.
We are heartened by the promise of a return to “normal,” but the crisis of COVID-19 is still very much with us. The effects will linger: for babies who are missing critical therapy, for clients suffering emotionally and economically from lack of work, for families who have faced so much hardship.
We rely on your support so we can continue to serve our community at a time they need it most. We hope you will consider making a gift to Northwest Center this year.
We are grateful to all those who have supported us during this extraordinary year so that we can continue to serve our community at a time they need it most. Your partnership is crucial to our ability to deliver on our mission to promote the growth, development and independence of people with disabilities through programs of therapy, education and work opportunity.
Just as our staff and educators are a lifeline for families, kids, and clients this year, you are our lifeline.
Onward & Upward,
President & CEO
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