Early Head Start
Early Head Start serves pregnant mothers and infants and toddlers, birth to three years old. This program promotes healthy prenatal outcomes and enhances the development of infants and toddlers. Babies can begin attending Children First once they are six weeks old. Early Head Start and Head Start services are for families who live at or below the Federal Poverty Level. Families may still be eligible for our services based on other criteria, such as a child with a diagnosed disability.
Early Childhood Education
Every child enrolled at Children First receives a high-quality early childhood education. All learning is curriculum-based. We use the HighScope Curriculum where children make decisions, build academic skills, develop socially and emotionally, and become part of a classroom community. Our highly qualified teachers plan meaningful individual and group activities based on the needs, strengths, and abilities of each child. We focus on creating an environment that encourages children to explore, interact, and exercise their creative imagination through purposeful play.
Children and families who require additional support after graduating from Children First may be eligible for our RISE program. While enrolled in their elementary school, children receive one-on-one literacy support with a volunteer mentor from Kindergarten through fifth grade. Parents will continue to receive Family Advocacy services to support their child’s education. This program bridges the gap between our program and possible entry to Take Stock in Children.
Children First has a team of Special Needs Coordinators who provide support to every child with a diagnosed disability. Disabilities can include but are not limited to developmental delays, autism, or sensory processing disorder. Our Special Needs team works with children and their families to ensure every child receives the recommended services. Special Needs Coordinators are there to answer questions, address concerns, provide referrals, and monitor progress. We provide support services on-site at Children First. These can include occupational therapy, physical therapy, or speech and language therapy. We also partner with other service providers, such as Sertoma Kids, The Florida Center for Early Childhood, Easterseals, and Sensory Solutions to make certain a child is receiving the support they need. At Children First, all services are provided at no cost. We offer fully inclusive classrooms. All of our classrooms are enrolled with children who have special needs plans together with children who do not. Our Special Needs team assists classroom teachers with a child’s accommodations or modifications for learning success.
We strive to make sure every child has the tools they need to succeed and are healthy enough to learn. This includes their social and emotional well-being and their mental health. Any child who requires additional emotional and behavioral support can benefit from the services of our on-staff Mental Health Specialists. Our Mental Health Specialists provide classroom support, as well as individualized support for children and their caregivers.
- Provide developmental guidance for social-emotional concerns
- Plan and implement strategies to promote healthy attachment and relationships
- Create and assist in the implementation of individualized plans based on the child’s unique social, emotional, behavioral, and developmental needs to promote school readiness
- Partner with caregivers to promote positive social-emotional development of their child
- Provide case consultation to caregivers based on needs of the child and/or family
- Provide a direct referral to a mental health therapist
- Provide Child-Parent Psychotherapy to families meeting criteria for treatment
Health & Nutrition
We have a comprehensive Health and Nutrition program geared towards improving the overall health and well-being of the children and families we serve from the inside out. Proper nutrition is an important building block in a child’s healthy development. Every child who attends Children First receives a healthy breakfast, lunch, and snack each day.
- Vision Screenings
- Dental Screenings
- Hearing Screenings
- Blood Pressure Screenings
- Certified Lactation Counselor Sessions
- Registered Dietitian Services
- Comprehensive plans to accommodate specific health and nutrition needs of individual children
- Nutrition Education
- Health Education
- Farm to School Initiatives
- Nutritious and well-balanced meals following the USDA Child and Adult Care Food Program guidelines