I asked my intern, Londyn, to reflect on King County’s Best Starts for Kids program. Below is her reflection. Please note that she used information available at their website: http://www.kingcounty.gov/depts/community-human-services/initiatives/best-starts-for-kids.aspx .
“I found it absolutely incredible that Best Starts for Kids is not only leading the nation in this approach but also the annual dollar amount invested by them into King County families. This is so encouraging to know. I’ve always been taught that your check book is a reflection of your priority’s, and clearly this expresses how much KC values not only their community but the young as well.
This reminded me of what scripture says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6 NKJV). I admire their tactics, such as, investing early, maintaining the growth, valuing community and focusing on the results and data.
Although, these all go much deeper, they did a wonderful job of making their mission clear and their strategies evident. Boasting low juvenile detention numbers consistently compared to the demographic average. Through the use of alternative programs, equality of races and the reform of the juvenile justice system and practices they’re striving to eradicate disproportionalities of race within the system. Some alternatives mentioned on their site included, family intervention & restorative justice, creative justice, 180 programs, restorative mediation, step-up program and drug court.”
A grant to fund MAP: My Action Planning for Incarcerated Youth has been awarded to Rev. Terri Stewart and the Youth Chaplaincy Coalition by the General Board of Church and Society. The Coalition, which is a task force of the Church Council of Greater Seattle, works with incarcerated youth in King County and Washington State detention facilities. With the MAP program, Rev. Stewart envisions training volunteers to mentor youth so that they transition out of detention with the skills and confidence they need to stay out and build productive lives.
MAPs allow youth and a trained mentor to come together and see where the youth has come from, who they are now, and who they want to be. Pictured is an exercise that shows an actual map of important life events illustrating who a youth was. We train mentors to be mirrors for the youth so they can see the absolute sacred worth that they have as children of God. Mentors also reflect and identify gifts and talents for youth who are often labeled worthless. These youth are not their crime.
Our goal is to recruit 30 new mentors and to create a solid 12 hour program that can be taught in a retreat format or in one-on-one mentoring. If you are interested in learning more, please contact Rev. Stewart at 425.531.1756 or YCC-Chaplain@thechurchcouncil.org.
The grant allows for the time, travel, and recruiting efforts of new volunteers. The Youth Chaplaincy Coalition still needs additional funding in order to pay for the supplies that mentors and youth will use. We plan on mentoring 120 youth this year. That is a supply cost of about $25 per youth. If you feel like sponsoring a youth, please contact Rev. Stewart at 425.531.1756 or YCC-Chaplain@thechurchcouncil.org or mail a donation to the Youth Chaplaincy Coalition, PO Box 18467, Seattle, WA 98118.
The materials and experience resulting from this pilot program can be used in other facilities across the US. Funds for Human Relations Day Grants come from the United Methodist Special Sunday offering received on Human Relations Day in January.