Mission: The mission of Children First is to strengthen children and families by improving the quality of their lives through a comprehensive approach to development, education, health, and well-being.


  • Children First is a four-time designated National Head Start Association Program of Excellence, one of two agencies in the nation to receive this coveted designation four consecutive times (2006-2020)
  • Children First envisions a vibrant community that cherishes education, provides opportunities for children and families to grow and thrive, and encourages and empowers families in supporting their children
  • WEDU PBS 2019 Nonprofit of the Year, selected from a 16-county viewing area of Tampa Bay’s most esteemed organizations
  • Best Place to Work in Sarasota-Manatee 2019 (Top 30), Best Place to Work in Sarasota-Manatee 2020 (Top 15)
  • Two-time Platinum Seal of Transparency Recipient (2019, 2020) from GuideStar.org, the world’s largest source of non-profit information 

Serving vulnerable families since 1961.

In the top 1 percent of over 1,800 Head Start providers in the country, Children First is committed to strengthening children and families in our community.

As the exclusive Head Start and Early Head Start provider for Sarasota County, Children First offers year-round preschool, infant and toddler care, nutritious meals, health and behavioral screenings, and family support services for at-risk children from birth to 5 years old across 15 locations. The education, care, and comprehensive services provided ensure a healthy and strong foundation for success.

Of special note, the agency’s award-winning Families First Institute offers free courses to the public including parenting, budgeting, and career readiness to help families achieve self-sufficiency.

Over 87 percent of families enrolled at Children First live at or below the Federal Poverty Level ($21,720 for a family of three) and receive services at no cost. Approximately 900 children annually have the opportunity to reach their full potential because of your investment in them.

Your heartfelt support enables us to keep saying “yes” to our children and families and reduce our growing waitlist. Thank you to our staff, volunteers, and supporters!


Children First, Inc.
1723 N. Orange Ave.
Sarasota, FL 34234
(941) 953-3877


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