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Children First Leaders Honored by Regional Association, Representing 170,000 Children and Families Across Southeastern U.S.

Children First is proud to announce that an agency parent 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.

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. 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.

Leah Jones, Children First parent and Policy Council Vice Chair, was recognized with the Beating the Odds Award for overcoming significant challenges on her journey to self-sufficiency.

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.

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

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

About Children First:

Founded in 1961 and ranked in the top 1% out of over 1,800 Head Starts nationwide, Children First strengthens children and families by improving the quality of their lives through a comprehensive approach to development, education, health, and well-being. At multiple sites throughout Sarasota County, Children First offers full-day preschool, infant and toddler care, and nutrition and health care assistance to children ages birth to five years old from low-income families. Through Children First, the children receive the social and cognitive skills needed to enter kindergarten and elementary school on track. For more information, call (941) 953-3877 or go to


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Media Contact : Evan Ackerman

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