Rule Supports Bill for Youth Development Grants

OLYMPIA—Rep. Alicia Rule (D-Blaine) introduced HB 1386, a youth development bill, earlier this session. It passed out of committee last week and has been referred to the Appropriations Committee.

The bill will include mentoring, expanded learning opportunities, after-school or summer programs, school-aged childcare, and other child supports that address the comprehensive needs of young people. These expanded learning opportunities will be in areas such as the arts, civic engagement, science, technology, engineering, and math.

“This is a great bill for supporting our children and youth,” Rule said as it passed out of committee. “When we support them preventatively, we can do a great job of preventing problems down the line. This is an investment in long term that will pay back in dividends. When we keep kids busy doing good things, they stay out of trouble,” she added.

Several supporters of HB 1386 have come out to provide public testimony on this bill. David Beard, Policy & Advocacy Director at Schools Out Washington, recently provided in-person testimony in support of the bill.

“Youth programs really move the needle, and this bill is going to help increase access for thousands of kids across the state,” Beard said. “This bill really comes from decades of programming, but not really having any state support for programming. This bill will increase access as it promotes geographic equity, and big and small programs will make this work,” he added.

Katya Miltimore, Executive Director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Washington State, also spoke in support of the bill. “[Youth programs] really promote stability and youth development organizations have been proven to provide a significant return on investment,” she said.

“The first type of return on investment is what you see from investing in these programs and the second is the stability these programs provide working parents. When kids leave school at 2 or 3 p.m., some parents are not able to maintain employment because they don’t have an after-school option in their community,” Miltimore added. “This bill will provide stability to both kids and parents.”