Who is eligible for services?
Children First serves those in the highest poverty levels throughout Sarasota County, with more than 90% of enrolled families being below the poverty line. To participate in the program, families must submit an application, as those with the highest need have first priority. A selection committee comprised of parents, community partners, and Head Start staff carefully reviews applicants to determine enrollment.
What is the cost to enroll a child?
The cost for care is dependent on the family’s income level, need, and other factors. Some families pay nothing, while others pay a discounted rate.
Do I have to be low income to enroll my child?
Up to ten percent of the children who are enrolled in Children First may be from families that exceed the low-income guidelines. These children may meet other criteria, such as a diagnosed disability.
Is there any obligation for the families who are accepted into the program?
A Children First Family Advocate works with each family to assist them in becoming independent and self- sufficient. Family Advocates conduct a minimum of two home visits per family within the program year. Every family completes a Family Assessment within the first 60 days of receiving services, which helps to show the growth of a family between the beginning and the end of the program year.
A Family Partnership Agreement, outlining the family’s long and short-term goals, is developed based on information obtained from the assessment. The Family Advocate follows up on progress throughout the year.
Does Children First provide transportation to its sites?
While transportation is not available for individual children, all child care centers are located in areas that are accessible by foot or via public transit.
I am a child’s legal caregiver (grandparent, aunt or uncle, etc.), but not a parent. Are we still able to apply?
Yes! We invite all families to submit applications, and offer informational classes for families beyond the traditional family unit.