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Children First Receives More than $250,000 to Boost Services Addressing Economic Impact

As families across Florida and the nation grapple with the choice between providing essential childcare for their children and fulfilling professional responsibilities, employees and employers continue to feel the effects of this difficult balancing act.

The Florida Chamber Foundation recently reported that childcare-related employee turnover and absenteeism costs Florida employers $3.47 billion per year. Childcare gaps drive parents out of the workforce, reducing tax revenue, which puts undue strain on households and businesses.

As the exclusive provider of Head Start and Early Head Start services for Sarasota County, Children First serves children and their families living at or below the Federal Poverty Level ($24,860 for a family of 3) across Sarasota, Venice, and North Port each year.

To help combat the early childhood crisis in Sarasota County, the agency has received more than $250,000 that will help to enhance and expand its comprehensive and family strengthening services for children and families living at risk.

Recent funding includes two combined gifts totaling $140,000 from the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation to fund an Early Childhood Education Nurse and to support the Changemaker Collective Challenge Match, an anonymous gift of $40,000 to support Family Strengthening Services, an anonymous gift of $30,000 to support the award-winning Families First Institute, $25,000 from the Sarasota City Foundation to support Family Strengthening Services, $5,000 from the Bulova Gale Foundation to support comprehensive services, two combined gifts totaling $10,000 from Suncoast Charities for Children to support the Full Tummies – Flourishing Minds program and the agency’s Crisis Fund, and $4,000 from Fifth Third Bank in support of the agency’s scholarship program.

"Ensuring accessible and affordable childcare is not just a matter of compassion but an economic priority. Childcare gaps don't just impact families; they reverberate through our workforce and the very fabric of our communities. We are deeply grateful to our community for recognizing that investing in high quality childcare is an investment in our collective future," says Philip Tavill, Children First CEO.

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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