King County Council to discuss changes to juvenile detention, education funding

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SEATTLE – Education and juvenile detention are expected to take the spotlight Monday as King County council members make decisions that could bring changes to some children and young adults.

The Metropolitan King County Council is expected to decide if it will start work on a 15-year plan for spending millions of dollars in education funding.

According to our news partner The Seattle Times, the council will vote on some of its priorities for education funding distribution. Investments could go toward early learning, K-12 education for low-income and underserved students, as well as college and career training programs.

King County’s roughly $318 million is part of a more than $500 million sum that was distributed to King, Pierce and Snohomish counties for education.

If the council votes to create a plan, one must be established by Sept. 1, 2018. Money would start being dispersed in 2019.

Also on Monday’s agenda, the council plans to take action on an ordinance that would create requirements in King County for treatment and services provided to children in juvenile detention. The ordinance would also bar kids from being placed in solitary confinement except in situations when it’s necessary for safety or security.

Late November, King County Executive Dow Constantine announced plans to take a new approach for the structure of juvenile detention. Constantine announced that county departments, under the direction of ‘Public Health – Seattle & King County,’ must come up with a plan to overhaul juvenile detention services.

“By adopting a public health approach, we limit the [trauma] of youth in detention, and ensure families have access to supports and services in the community,” Constantine said. “Our Juvenile Detention Officers have embraced restorative justice, and they understand the challenges of adolescence. This Executive Order directs a comprehensive process with input from our officers and others to make a successful transition to Public Health, so that we can fully take advantage of all available resources and strategies to make a difference in the lives of our young people.”

King County’s new Children and Family Justice Center is currently under construction in Seattle — with a goal in mind of “zero youth detention.”

“King County is replacing its aged, institutional-style juvenile detention facility with one focused on restorative spaces, supportive services and integration of volunteer community programs,” according to the county’s website. “The future facility will cut the number of juvenile detention beds in half and is flexibly designed to convert into an even smaller juvenile detention facility.”

The center is projected to open by 2020.