June 11, 2020 (Sarasota, FL) – Children First was awarded $27,500 in community grant support from three local foundations to aid the agency in remaining operationally resilient. As the exclusive provider of Head Start and Early Head Start services in Sarasota County, staff and supporters are coming together to advance its mission of strengthening children and families daily.
Vital support includes $15,000 from The Paddock Foundation for scholarship support, including early childhood education, nutrition, emotional & behavioral support, and family strengthening services, $10,000 from the Allen Wirtz Nobbe and Jo Bowen Nobbe Fund of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County to help Children First staff assist families in navigating our partnership with Season of Sharing opportunities, and $2,500 from Florida Winefest & Auction for the Families First Institute, which has transitioned to a virtual platform for its award-winning classes.
Since March 16th, the agency has provided more than 746 supplemental food packages, 353 kits of diapers and wipes, and 33 car seats, as well as infant formula, hygiene products, face masks, paper products, and financial assistance to families.
“More than 70% of our families are seeking additional resources from us as those facing job loss and reduced work hours continues to rise. Support from the community and our local foundations allows us to keep moving our mission of strengthening children and families forward despite the adversity they continue to face,” says CEO Philip Tavill.
All children received virtual classroom support as well as at-home educational kits until the end of the school year. In the transition from the end of the academic 2019-2020 school year and the official start of summer services on June 2, all children with diagnosed disabilities saw no break in services with teachers continuing to offer lesson plans and outreach to families.
“With nearly 2,900 phone calls made from our Program staff to parents since the start of our remote learning, almost 1,500 emails sent, and 111 educational videos created, not to mention the countless hours spent preparing the learning kits and activities, I could not be more confident in our staff’s ability to continue providing the highest quality service without interruption,” says Kathleen Sullivan, Vice President of Programs.
About Children First:
Founded in 1961 and ranked in the top 1% out of over 1,800 Head Starts nationwide, Children First strengthens children and families by improving the quality of their lives through a comprehensive approach to development, education, health, and well-being. At 15 sites throughout Sarasota County, Children First offers full-day preschool, infant and toddler care, and nutrition and health care assistance to children ages birth to five years old from low-income families. Through Children First, the children receive the social and cognitive skills needed to enter kindergarten and elementary school on track. For more information, call (941) 953-3877 or go to childrenfirst.net.