Empowered Families

Empowered Families

Families in the Children First program have opportunities they never thought possible, as a result of generous supporters…

Family Advocates help each family to identify personal, educational and career goals. They offer guidance and encouragement when obstacles arise.

When Becky was first introduced to Children First in 2005, the challenges she faced seemed almost insurmountable. A former teenage mom who never finished high school, she was now caring for two young daughters, Ameilia and Olivia. Becky was both out of work and out of hope. It was a time when many of us might simply give up. But not Becky.

Working with her Children First Family Advocate, Becky learned about Head Start and enrolled her youngest child. She also found work and began attending college, eventually receiving her state certification in early childhood education. When her son Rory was born five years later, Children First helped her find the medical treatment he needed to overcome speech and vision issues. Becky later served on the Children First Policy Council and acted as Parent Liaison to the Board of Directors.

Today, Becky manages a family landscaping business with her loving partner, Kary. Just as importantly, she and Kary have created a nurturing home for Ameilia, Olivia, and Rory, who is busy preparing for Kindergarten during his last year at Children First.

Today, Becky’s life truly has changed, thanks to her hard work and the opportunities that came from Children First.

It really is amazing. I can never repay Children First for all they have given to us.

Becky P.

By adding a Licensed Mental Health professional on-site, children facing emotional and behavioral disabilities will get immediate attention.

Kim never expected to find herself alone and hungry in a strange new town with her infant son, Caleb, by her side. But after fleeing from an abusive relationship in 2013, that is exactly the situation she faced. No job. No car. No home. And no one to turn to for help.

Bright and energetic, and with a college degree, Kim doesn’t fit the profile many of us imagine when we hear about the homeless. Yet, she is living proof just how fragile the line can be between achieving success and struggling to make ends meet.

Fortunately, Kim and Caleb discovered Children First and Our Mother’s House, a partner program in Venice, FL, that provides housing for single moms and their children. Working with caring staff, Kim embraced a new beginning. She found a job as a teacher’s aide and enrolled Caleb in the Early Head Start program with Children First. When Caleb’s teachers recognized a speech issue possibly related to autism, Kim was equipped to find appropriate healthcare services.

Today, Kim and Caleb have a new life. They have their own apartment and Kim works full time helping other single moms. Caleb is in preschool at Children First, learning side-by-side with his peers. It is a life they never dreamed possible just two short years ago.

Everything in our lives was uncertain until we found Children First.

Kim B.

All families are unique and have special needs. Family Advocates are a critical piece of meeting those needs.

Alan and Carol were looking forward to a Florida retirement filled with sunshine, fishing and golf. This all changed when the couple’s grandchildren needed help, as their parents became unable to care for them. Alan and Carol did what any loving grandparents would – they took in Dominic, Natalie, and Lincoln, giving them a safe, nurturing home.

Still, raising three young children on a fixed income isn’t easy. And Alan and Carol soon realized they needed some help of their own, and a friend told them about Children First. There, they were paired with a Family Advocate who helped them enroll the children in preschool and find services for family caregivers of all types.

Their Family Advocate also encouraged Alan and Carol to attend Children First classes like “Nurturing Dads” and “5 Keys to Better Behavior.” They soon found the Kinship Care Support Group, which is specially designed for grandparents and others raising children for the “second time around.”

Today, Dominic is doing well in middle school, Natalie is a straight “A” student in fourth grade, and Lincoln is finishing up his final year at Children First. Most important of all, the kids and their grandparents have become a closer family than they ever expected.

Children First is like family to us. It is amazing how many lives they have touched.

Alan L.