Healthy Children’s Fund

Focusing on early childhood well-being goes beyond just the child. It’s about creating a supportive ecosystem where families and children can thrive.

The journey to early childhood well-being in Whatcom County began over two decades ago with a vision: all children are safe, healthy, and ready to learn; families are strong, stable, and supported from the start; and communities are welcoming and supportive places for children and families to live, learn, work, and play. (Whatcom Working Toward Well-Being, 2020)

Since then, a dedicated coalition of community members, organizations, and elected officials have worked tirelessly to prioritize early childhood well-being.

Key milestones include:

  • 2012: Early childhood is identified as a critical area of focus in Whatcom County’s first community health improvement plan.
  • 2016: The Whatcom County Health Board declares child well-being a top priority.
  • 2020: The County Council approves the Child & Family Action Plan and creates a Task Force.
  • 2021: Needs assessments identify gaps in services for children and families.
  • 2022: Healthy Whatcom focuses on early childhood well-being across all community health improvement strategies.
  • November 2022: Voters approve Proposition 5, establishing the Healthy Children’s Fund.

What we’re working on:

The Healthy Children’s Fund (HCF) is putting your support into action by funding programs that give young children (prenatal to age 5) and their families the resources they need to thrive. Here are some initial strategies:

Early Learning & Care

  • Small capital grants to expand, renovate, or repurpose buildings to create new child care slots. 
  • Large-scale capital investments to build new, expand existing, or re-purpose buildings for child care.
  • Early Learning & Care workforce development system including scholarships, mentoring, and coaching.
  • Expand the utilization of Washington State’s tuition subsidy program, Working Connections Child Care (WCCC) and initiate a new Whatcom County tuition subsidy program. 
  • Workforce compensation pilot programs to identify best practices in workforce sustainability.
  • Including shared administrative services, co-located early learning and other services for children and families, and support for smaller providers in the County
  • Basic needs funding for diapers, formula, transportation, etc.
  • Drop-in child care

Supporting Vulnerable Children

  • Workforce recruitment, training, and services.
  • Resources for families at risk of losing housing.
  • Providing doulas for Medicaid families. Doulas offer emotional and physical support to new and expectant parents before, during, and after birth. They also provide information to the clients they serve.
  • Expand and establish parent support groups. Parent-peer support groups offer parents and caregivers hope, guidance, advocacy, and community.
  • Expanding Single Entry Access Services for families with children with disabilities and/or complex medical needs 

Funding in Action:

  • Parent support groups “peer to peer” ($600k)
  • Doulas for Medicaid families ($300k)
  • Resources for families at risk of losing housing ($2.8M)
  • Providing basic needs like diapers, formula, transportation, and childproofing to vulnerable families ($800k) 
  • Expanding services for families with children with disabilities and/or complex medical needs ($300k)
  • Perinatal Mental Health Expansion ($200k)
  • Drop-in childcare ($500k)
  • Childcare-based services like Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Speech, Behavioral Health support, and new programs to promote Kindergarten Readiness ($1.5M)
  • Child care facility expansion ($1M)
  • Strengthening the early learning and care workforce through a professional development hub ($1.5M)

Want to get involved?

For details on all HCF strategies and funding awards, visit the Healthy Children’s Fund Implementation Plan or the Health and Community Services website.