SARASOTA, FL – Children First recently received a $10,000 grant from the Sarasota County Foundation to provide tuition assistance for preschool-age children from low-income families for the 2016-2017 school year. The grant will allow Children First to extend services to more local families living in poverty, so they can benefit from the organization’s infant and toddler care, early childhood education, nutrition, and healthcare support.
Children First current- ly serves more than 600 children, ages five and under, and their fami- lies each year, of which more than 90% live at or below the federal poverty level of $20,160 for a family of three. Yet, over 400 additional children and their families have remained on the agency’s wait list due to a shortage in funds to meet their needs. The grant from the Sarasota County Foundation begins to address this gap, although the agency says more support is needed due to the growing number of families living in poverty.
To help address the needs of these vulnerable families, Children First launched its “Raise Your Hand” campaign last spring. The campaign, which has raised more than $3 million to date, aims to reduce the number of children on the waiting list, provide more personalized attention for students in the classroom, increase on-site support for enrolled families facing emotional and behavioral challenges, and intensify family advocacy services.