About Us | Children First

About Us

Children at Children First receive quality early childhood education and comprehensive care that supports their healthy development. Children develop social skills, confidence, self-esteem, and an enthusiasm for lifelong learning. Each day they attend school, children receive over 50% of their weekly nutrition through breakfast, lunch, and a snack. This helps to ensure that they are healthy enough to learn. Those with disabilities will also 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 assist families in creating action plans with educational, occupational, and financial goals. By working with families on setting and meeting these goals, as well as connecting them to important services, they help them to move out of poverty and set them on a path to success.

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 holds the distinction of being a 4-time designated Head Start “Program of Excellence" and is ranked in the top 1% out of over 1,800 Head Starts nationwide.

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.

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

-High-quality early childhood education
-Two nutritious meals and snacks daily
-Health & developmental screenings
-Family engagement activities
-Parenting education
-Behavioral and mental health 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 $21,330 for a family of three (based on 2019 federal guidelines.)

The Families First Institute is a family-focused initiative aimed at strengthening our most economically vulnerable families, as well as those in the community.

The Institute offers several classes and workshops to our parents that focus on child development, parenting strategies, career and personal growth, and money management. Our goal is to lead to positive and enduring change for children and families and to reduce the effects of poverty through education, information, guidance, and support for these parents.

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

Each Families First Institute class is free of charge to participants. Funding for the Families First Institute is provided by the Sarasota County Contracted Human Services 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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