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Children First


Non-Profit Child Development & Daycare

Network Level Membership


In 1961, the Junior League of Sarasota, formerly the Junior Welfare League of Sarasota, founded the Sarasota Day Nursery. Its mission was to prepare children from low-income families for Kindergarten. Their work changed lives and built a strong foundation. The organization became Sarasota County’s exclusive provider of Head Start in 1994 and Early Head Start in 1998.

Following a name change to Children First in 2000, the organization grew rapidly, driven by the high demand for quality early childhood education and family strengthening programs within economically vulnerable communities. Children First proudly merged with the historic Helen R. Payne Day Nursery, formerly the Newtown Day Nursery, in 2004.

Children First is honored to serve children and strengthen families. Our continuous commitment to the mission has been made possible by our generous community and for that we are deeply grateful.

Strengthening children and families by improving the quality of their lives through a comprehensive approach to development, education, health, and well-being.

Additional Info

Ranked in the top 1% of out more than 1,800 Head Start programs nationwide. 

Membership Type

Network Level Membership

Member News Items


Jessica Rogers
Vice President of Philanthropy

Evan Ackerman

Linda Bair

Stacey Copeland

Brigette Davis
Associate Director of Head Start/Early Head Start

Charles Kaine

Alyssa Simons
Associate Director of Donor Relations

Kathleen Sullivan

Philip Tavill

Jean Ward

Linda Watterworth

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