Children First recently received a $20,000 grant from the Wilson-Wood Foundation to support Comprehensive Services for children and families living at-risk in Sarasota County. Comprehensive Services include early childhood education, nutrition, healthcare screenings, emotional and behavioral support, and family strengthening services for parents.
An important part of the agency’s Comprehensive Services for children is addressing mental health. Children First has onsite Mental Health Counselors who provide individual interventions for children and their families who are facing emotional and behavioral issues requiring support. Addressing the emotional and behavioral well-being of those we serve helps to stabilize families and ensure long-term success for the child and their family.
The average income of a Children First family is $14,000. With 90% of the families enrolled living below the Federal Poverty Level of $21,330 for a family of three, they are left with extremely limited income and resources for education, food stability, and housing. The funding from this grant is imperative to negating the systematic pressures of poverty, which creates an environment of chronic stress for both children and adults.
Our families have a variety of other risk factors in addition to living in poverty. Over 300 of our families live as single-parent households, with 25% speaking English as a second language, and one third having no high school diploma or GED. Poverty represents a lack of access to health care, adequate education, and proper nutrition. It can also affect child development and long-term opportunities.
More than 900 families received strengthening services from Children First last year to help them break the generational cycle of poverty and achieve self-sufficiency. Families work one on one with a Family Advocate who assists them in creating personalized plans with educational, occupational, and financial goals.
“The funding from this grant will ensure that every child receives the education and care they rightfully deserve, and their families receive the opportunities critical to their success. We are deeply grateful to the Wilson-Wood Foundation for recognizing that, as long as we work together, there is nothing we cannot accomplish for children and families,” says CEO Philip Tavill.