Three individuals associated with Children First recognized by Region IV Head Start Association

One honoree to be finalist for national award

Kathleen Sullivan (left) and Jane Shaw celebrate their awards. Image courtesy Children First

A parent involved with the work of Children First in Sarasota County and two of the agency’s employees have been recognized by the Region IV Head Start Association “for their impact in elevating excellence across the Head Start Community,” Children First has announced.

“As the exclusive provider of Head Start and Early Head Start services for Sarasota County, Children First serves nearly 1,100 individuals daily at multiple sites across Sarasota, Venice, and North Port,” a news release explains. “The agency has been ranked in the top 1% of more than 1,800 programs nationwide and is a four-time designated Head Start Program of Excellence,” the release adds.

Leah Jones, Children First parent and Policy Council vice chair, was honored with the Beating the Odds Award “for overcoming significant challenges on her journey to self-sufficiency,” the release continues.

Jane Shaw, early learning inclusion coordinator, “received the Achievement Award for Disabilities Services, recognizing exceptional performance in the delivery of services to children with disabilities and supporting parents in their role as advocates for their children,” the release adds.

Finally, Children First Vice President of Programs Kathleen Sullivan was honored with the Dr. Arvern Moore Memorial Award, the release says. As a former Head Start parent, Sullivan “was recognized for demonstrating passion for and commitment to serving through advocacy as both a current staff member and Head Start alumna,” the release points out.

Sullivan’s nomination will advance to the National Head Start Association, where she will be a Region IV category finalist, representing more than 1 million children and their families across the country, the release notes.

Founded in 1961, “Children First strengthens children and families by improving the quality of their lives through a comprehensive approach to development, education, health, and well-being,” the release explains. “Children First offers full-day preschool, infant and toddler care, and nutrition and health care assistance” to children from birth to the age of 5 from low-income families,” the release adds.

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

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