Developing our Bridge Conference COVID-19 Protocols

As we prepare to return to an in-person Conference for the first time in three years, we are announcing our revised COVID-19 Protocols and Practices for our 2022 Bridge Conference, which will take place in Tacoma October 24-25.   SOWA leadership and the Bridge Planning team recognize the importance of honoring multiple truths, norms, and experiences, especially when deciding about the health and safety of our community. Our Bridge Planning team includes staff from across the state, is primarily people of color, and has a wide array of experiences in the field. Their perspectives and experiences helped shape our decision-making process.   … [ ]

Best starts and best practices—how 2020 highlighted the importance of out-of-school time

In February 2020, the Best Starts for Kids Out-of-School Time Initiative (BSK OST) was heading into its final year of implementation. Then COVID hit, and communities across King County (and the world) were left scrambling to support each other through unimaginable challenges. Youth development workers navigated alarming funding cuts, rapidly changing safety protocols, school closures and the creation of virtual learning strategies, and the profound trauma their youth, families, and staff teams experience. A spotlight is now on the unique and vital role our field plays within the landscape of our communities—it’s never been more apparent how much our work … [ ]

In their own words—Coach Lynda’s spotlight on Centro Rendu

Expanded Learning Opportunity (ELO) providers and school district personnel agree that they are Zoom fatigued, depressed, and no longer motivated to join any kind of virtual learning. Like them, Maricela Rodriguez, a Centro Rendu staff member, has been thinking of strategies to engage her young people to attend their Zoom virtual session regularly. Since Centro Rendu has a strong partnership with parents and community resources, she decided to invite parents and people from the community to co-facilitate with her.  One of her guests was Father Carlos Orozco from St. Louis Parish in Bellevue. Father Orozco is known for his collection … [ ]

Vaccine information for youth development professionals

Youth Development (Expanded Learning, Child Care, Mentoring, Wrap-Around) Tools for Vaccines COVID-related infections and hospitalizations have increased across the state and country. In order to keep children, youth, and those that work with them safe; Governor Inslee has signed an Executive Order mandating all K12, child care, early learning, higher education, and youth development employees be fully vaccinated or obtain a medical or religious exemption from their employer by October 18th. This impacts all programs and their employees working directly with children and youth, more information here and here. The Youth Development Strategy Table is working with the Governor’s Office … [ ]

Centering Joy—How Best Starts ensures King County youth are happy, healthy, safe and thriving

The Best Starts for Kids initiative is designed to ensure that all young people in King County are happy, healthy, safe and thriving. In the Out-of-School Time initiative, SOWA partners with organizations providing afterschool and summer programming to elementary and middle school age youth. Our cohort of providers prioritize the well-being of their participants and their community. There is no shortage of happiness within their work!  Below are two organizations who made it their mission to spread joy during difficult times.  Empowering Youth and Families Outreach (EYFO) developed creative ways to connect, despite isolation within the pandemic. The organization held … [ ]

When caring about your community is a lifestyle

For 75 years, the Boys and Girls Club of Snohomish County  (BGSC) has been an open door for young people in many communities. With 25 locations across the region, their participants are a diverse blend of Latinx, Native American, and rurally located youth.  Their mission is  “to enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.” It drives their day-to-day work as staff enables kids to be all that they can be.  When kids start coming to any BGSC location, they are encouraged to try everything, be bold and … [ ]