Supporting our local youth—and hearing directly from you

Dear neighbors,

I’m pleased to report that lawmakers made significant progress on the issues that matter the most to families and residents in our community during this short 60-day session. While the national climate is very polarized, Democrats and Republicans in Washington state continue to find many opportunities to work together.

This e-news is a quick update on some of the work we did in the last session.

I also want to invite you to my next community meeting in Oak Harbor on Tuesday, April 16. Hope to see you there!

Supporting our youth

Even before the pandemic, it was clear that we must do more to improve mental health outcomes for young people. In 2022, I worked with local officials and healthcare providers on the issue and requested funding for a Youth Mental Health pilot program. I’ve secured funding every year since—to continue and expand the program to reach more kids in our community. I recently had the opportunity to meet with those involved in the program and hear about the great work they have been doing.

Island County has partnered with several community organizations to use the funding to serve young people. The Pediatric Associates of Whidbey Island has expanded youth mental health services and parent education. Big Brother and Big Sisters have been able to serve 175 youth, with over 480 service hours working with kids in elementary, middle, and high school. BBBS is partnering with the Coupeville School District for the Dabbling in New Opportunities (DINO) after-school program—which allows kids to try a variety of different activities.

The Island County Health Department has hired a community health worker who collaborates with school districts to help find scholarships for kids who want to continue in something they tried through DINO. The Community Resource Center serves Camano Island and Stanwood and gives kids an opportunity to find things they are interested in and develop new skills. They have a full music and recording studio and are even sending students to Seattle for the Folklife Festival in May.

It was wonderful to hear about all the work being done to support our youth. You can find more info about these programs here:

I will continue to look for ways to expand the Youth Mental Health initiative to support more kids, parents, and families across our community.

As always, it’s an honor to serve as your state representative.