Children First to receive $165,000 from United Way Suncoast for Early Head Start and Head Start efforts

Nonprofit operates at 15 Sarasota County locations

This is one of the banners on Children First’s website. Image courtesy Children First

Children First, the exclusive Head Start grantee for Sarasota County, will receive $165,000 from United Way Suncoast’s Community Investment Fund to support Early Head Start and Head Start efforts, Children First has announced.

“ALICE family youth and children living below the poverty line will continue to get a head start in life,” thanks to the United Way, a news release says, referencing a United Way report on households that struggle financially.

“Families can find Early Head Start and Head Start at 15 locations in Sarasota County,” the Children First news release points out. They serve families and children from 6 weeks to 5 years of age who are “living in extreme poverty,” the release adds. “Early Head Start (birth to 3) promotes healthy prenatal outcomes, strengthens family functioning and nurtures the development of infants and toddlers,” the release continues. “Our programs enhance children’s physical, social, emotional, and intellectual development. Head Start (3-5) focuses on the comprehensive needs of preschoolers resulting in Kindergarten Readiness,” it adds.

“The partnership between Children First and United Way Suncoast supports our community’s most at-risk, very young children and their families in a way that truly changes lives,” said Children First CEO Philip Tavill in the release. “Together, we help lay the foundation for success and making dreams come true,” he added in the release.

“The lasting community impact created by Children First aligns with United Way’s priorities. As households continue to grapple with the financial fallout of the pandemic and parents strive to navigate a challenging educational year, United Way Suncoast [UWS] has stepped up with a $6.05 million boost to 77 area nonprofits for the 2022 fiscal year,” the release points out.

UWS is continuing its 97-year-long mission “of lifting up the community by sustaining its focus on four priority areas: early learning, youth success, financial stability and asset development,” the release explains. The investment extends to all five counties in UWS’ region — Sarasota, DeSoto, Hillsborough, Manatee and Pinellas — “and underscores the organization’s long-time commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion,” the release notes.

“We are proud to support high-impact programs that will do so much good across our region,” said United Way Suncoast CEO Jessica Muroff in the release.

For the second consecutive year, United Way Suncoast “convened a group of dedicated volunteers who conducted a thoughtful and thorough job in choosing the nonprofits,” the release explains.

“Each grant will fund specific programs that support the interconnected priority areas and help ALICE (Asset, Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) families who stand just one unexpected expense from enduring hardship,” the release adds.

Children First, which was founded in 1961, is ranked in the top 1% out of more than 1,800 Head Start programs nationwide, the release notes. “Through Children First, the children receive the social and cognitive skills needed to enter kindergarten and elementary school on track,” it adds.

For more information, call 941-953-3877 or go to