The cost of childcare has risen more than 200% in the last three decades while the average family income has increased by 143% in comparison, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Consumer Price Index analysis.
As the exclusive provider of Head Start and Early Head Start services for Sarasota County, Children First serves nearly 800 children and their families living at or below the Federal Poverty Level ($23,030 for a family of 3) across 15 locations each year.
To support this critical work, the agency has received $60,000 from the Roberta Leventhal Sudakoff Foundation, $20,000 from the Harry Sudakoff Foundation, $10,000 from Sarasota County Foundation, $5,000 from Harold C. & Jacqueline F. Bladel Foundation, $1,200 from MSC Foundation, and $1,000 from India Benton Lesser Foundation for scholarship support.
Scholarships provide comprehensive services including early childhood education, nutrition, emotional and behavioral support, and family strengthening services for the most vulnerable children and families living in our community. By providing scholarships for full-day infant and toddler care as well as pre-school education, parents also receive the opportunity to strengthen their finances and ultimately achieve self-sufficiency.
In addition, Children First received $40,000 from Anonymous Supporters to support five classes through the agency’s Families First Institute, $30,000 from Anonymous Supporters to support the expansion of the agency’s Family Strengthening Services, and $2,500 from Synovus Foundation to support a Calendar-Based Budgeting class.
The Families First Institute is an award-winning, family-focused initiative that offers comprehensive curricula to the community at-large focusing on child development, parenting strategies, career and personal growth, money management, and more.
Children First also received a $7,500 grant from Suncoast Charities for Children and Florida Power & Light for “Bringing the Experience to Children” with an environmentally-focused curriculum, as well as a $2,000 grant from Suncoast Charities for Children to support 60 pairs of classroom shoes and 86 hygiene kits.
“With the average enrolled family earning less than $14,000 per year, the cost of organized childcare would otherwise pose a significant challenge to the lives and well-being of those we serve,” says CEO Philip Tavill. “Our number one goal is to strengthen our children and families to the point of success and self-sufficiency where they will no longer require our services. This is a monumental task that could not be accomplished without the incredible support – whether it be for scholarships, family strengthening, or other needs – that we receive from our community.”
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.