Sarasota, FL (November 22, 2022) – As communities across the country grapple with the ongoing effects of the pandemic and economic stability, among other issues, the already-vulnerable early childhood education system has been facing catastrophic changes that affect our youngest learners nationwide.
Across the state of Florida alone, 38% of people live in a childcare desert, defined as any census tract with more than 50 children under age 5 that contains either no childcare providers or so few options that there are more than three times as many children as there are licensed childcare slots.
As the exclusive provider of Head Start and Early Head Start services for Sarasota County, Children First serves hundreds of 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 help combat the early childhood crisis in Sarasota County as well as enhance and expand its comprehensive services for those it serves, the agency has received more than $100,000 in support of its comprehensive services for children and families living at risk.
Recent funding includes $50,000 from the McCune Family Foundation, $15,000 from the Evalyn Sadlier Jones Foundation, $15,000 from the Wilson-Wood Foundation, $10,000 from Suncoast Credit Union Foundation, $5,000 from the Bulova Gale Foundation, $5,000 from the Venice Yacht Club Charitable Foundation, and $1,500 from Cowles Charitable Trust for scholarship support.
Other grants awarded include $3,000 from the Sarasota Kiwanis Foundation for classroom supplies as well as $1,500 from the Siesta Key Kiwanis Club and $1,000 from the MSC Foundation for comprehensive services.
Scholarships support 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 and pre-school education, parents also receive the opportunity to strengthen their finances and ultimately achieve self-sufficiency.
“With 90% of brain development occurring in the first five years of a child’s life, this crucial time lays the foundation for all future development. Because those we serve experience some of the most adverse effects of living in poverty, it becomes even more critical that we continue to provide the highest quality of service possible. Thank you to each and every one of our community partners who come together to help us realize our mission of strengthening children and families in need,” says CEO Philip Tavill.
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.