The Healthy Children’s Initiative (Proposition 5), to establish a dedicated fund to support young children and their families, was approved today. Whatcom County Health Department (WCHD) will be the administrator of that fund. WCHD is committed to both accountability and regular evaluations of the initiative, at all levels, to ensure these funds are being used as intended.
Initial prioritization of funds will go to projects that build capacity in rural areas, have a significant effect on our most vulnerable communities, have the greatest impact overall, and support children and families to find safe homes and get the support they need to thrive.
This new Healthy Children’s Initiative builds on more than a decade of work by hundreds of our fellow community members, in both the public and private sector. It is dedicated to the idea that improving the health of our youngest residents improves the health of our entire community.
Since 2012, the health and well-being of young children has been a declared priority in Whatcom County and are central to the last two cycles of WCHD’s Community Health Improvement Plan. A broad level of interest was shared among elected officials, health care, social service agencies, philanthropies and businesses, who recognized the importance of investing in children during critical periods of growth and development.
As part of this momentum, in 2016, the Whatcom County Health Board declared the health and well-being of young children a particular focus of interest and has maintained that focus in collaboration with the Public Health Advisory Board. In January 2020, the Whatcom County Council passed the Child and Family Action Plan and established the Child and Family Well-being Task Force to support implementation of that plan.
Many families have been impacted by the strain on our early learning systems, and our most vulnerable communities have faced these and many additional barriers. Our mandate is to provide relief to families as quickly as possible while still implementing a thoughtful, effective system that will successfully improve a wide array of long-term outcomes for children and families.
WCHD has formed an Implementation Planning Team, which has already met to start the process. The planning team will work closely with the following groups to get feedback and set the direction of the plan:
Child & Family Wellbeing Task Force
Behavioral Health Program Fund Advisory Group
Whatcom Child Care Coalition
Ordinance writing group
Public Health Advisory Board
The Health Department will share more information on these priorities and the developing plan in the coming months on the Healthy Children’s Fund webpage.
“The Healthy Children’s Fund is a community-driven initiative, and an enormous effort went into developing this vision and communicating it to voters. I am grateful to the team of advocates who fought tirelessly for the children of Whatcom County,” said Whatcom County Executive Satpal Sidhu. “I also want to recognize that the passage of Proposition 5 means that Whatcom County will be taking on a lot of work and responsibility, and we will be accountable for how we spend these new funds and the results they achieve. I am confident that we will live up to the challenge.”