2021 Marked the 60th Anniversary of Children First!
In 1961, the Junior League of Sarasota founded the Sarasota Day Nursery with a mission to prepare children from low-income families for Kindergarten. In 1994, the agency became Sarasota County’s exclusive provider of Head Start services. With Early Head Start services added in 1998 and a name change to Children First in 2000, our organization grew rapidly, driven by the high demand for quality early childhood education and family strengthening programs within economically vulnerable communities.
As the exclusive provider of Head Start and Early Head Start services for Sarasota County, Children First has grown to serve hundreds of children and their families annually at 15 locations annually throughout Sarasota County with campuses in Venice, North Port, and Sarasota. As a four-time designated Head Start Program of Excellence, our agency ranks in the top 1% of over 1,800 programs nationwide. Through our award-winning Families First Institute, comprehensive curricula is offered at no cost to all community members.
Children First’s founding principles are woven throughout our history, continuing the vision of providing children and families with opportunities for success, regardless of circumstance at birth or in life.
- CEO Philip Tavill honored as a 2021 Unity Award winner by Sarasota Magazine
- The Challenge for Changing Lives 60th Anniversary matching campaign was launched with a $1,060,000 commitment from our Diamond Circle
- Best Nonprofits to Work For
- Best of SRQ
- 2021 Virtual Fairytale Ball
- Official celebration of 60 years, founded in May 1961
- 93 children successfully completed our Head Start program and moved on to kindergarten
- Selected as one of 40 Head Start grantees to partake in the ULCA Anderson School Health Care Institute's latest training opportunity on trauma-informed care and mental health
Recognized as one of the top employers in Sarasota-Manatee in the “Best Places to Work” competition for the third consecutive year
Creating a Sustainable Future Through Cross-Sector Partnership
Raised $2.3 million in challenge match campaign for 60th anniversary
- Received official proclamation from the Board of County Commissioners for Sarasota County in honor of Head Start Awareness Month
- Celebrated 60 Years on the Beach – 13th Annual Flip Flops & Fashion Luncheon and 8th Annual Rockin’ Lobster Beach Party
Long-Time Staff Member and Diamond Circle Honored at SRQ Magazine Good Hero Awards
CEO Philip Tavill Honored for 25 Years of Service