About Us

Children First offers more than just classroom education. We also provide over 50% of a child’s weekly nutritional needs, with a healthy breakfast, lunch and afternoon snack every school day. Since access to healthcare can be an issue for families living in poverty, Children First ensures that each child entering our programs receives a thorough healthcare screening for medical, dental, developmental, and emotional well-being. Those with disabilities will get the quality, individualized attention they need and deserve, with trained teachers and specialists.

Additionally, all families are assigned a Family Advocate, ensuring that the entire family’s basic needs are being met at home and school. Family Advocates provide support and referrals that may involve housing, food, clothing, employment, or health care needs. A primary objective of Children First is to assist low-income families in achieving self-sufficiency and obtaining the skills needed for successful parenting. We encourage parents to be employed, receive job training, or to be enrolled in an educational program.

Children First programs are sponsored in part by Sarasota County Government. Community partnerships like this help to better serve vulnerable children and families.

Children First Inc. holds the distinction of being a Head Start “Program of Excellence.” This designation is awarded to Head Start organizations that consistently demonstrate excellence in program management and service performance, and that continually support the achievement of robust outcomes for at-risk children birth to five years-old, pregnant women, families, and their communities. They must demonstrate financial integrity, program accountability, innovation, compliance with the Head Start Program Performance Standards and other regulations, and comprehensive quality. Only nine other Head Start organizations throughout the country have achieved this level of recognition.

Through Head Start and Early Head Start Programs

Our children receive the care and tools necessary to succeed in Kindergarten and for a lifetime of success. Children First provides full-day, year-round early education for children from six weeks to five years of age using recognized curricula and assessment tools.

Beyond the Classroom

We focus on the child as a part of a whole community. We ensure that the child is nurtured and that the family is secure and connected to the community. Our Family Advocates spend time with each child's family to encourage communication and to build a safe, cohesive environment.

Each Child & Family Receives

-Full-day early childhood education
-Two nutritious meals and snacks daily
-Health & developmental screenings
-Family stabilization activities
-Parenting education
-Therapeutic services as needed
-State-of-the-art classrooms

Qualifications and Fairness

Our programs are offered to families who qualify for low or no cost. Program eligibility is based on risk factors and income level. More than 90 percent of enrolled families are living below the poverty line, which is $20,160 for a family of three (based on 2016 federal guidelines.)

The Families First Institute provides classes, training and support to families of the children we serve, as well as those in the community.

Equally important to early childhood education are the services we provide to families to enable them to make productive lifestyle choices so that they will be positive role models for their children. This includes helping parents identify and attain goals such as training and employment.

Our FFI is committed to helping families obtain self-sufficiency, making a better life for themselves, and their families.

Classes are also available in Spanish. Funding for the Families First Institute is provided by the Roberta Leventhal Sudakoff Foundation and the Mark & Carol Hyman Fund.


Children First Admits Students without Discrimination

on the basis of race, color, gender, disability, or national or ethnic origin.

Every child entering a Children First program with a suspected or diagnosed disability will receive the highest quality special education and related services based upon the child's individual needs.

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