Modular building transformed in Newtown, providing free early education services for people living under the federal poverty level

Free care and early education in Newtown

SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - An abandoned modular building on Gore Court in Newtown will now provide early childhood education services to 16 at-risk infants and toddlers.

It’s a partnership between Children First and the Sarasota Housing Authority. Private donors made this happen.

“When we have those children in our own environment when they are safe, when they are receiving nutritious meals, those families can be at work, those families can be in school and they can better their own circumstances,” said Philip Tavill, President and CEO of Children First.

One of the people who has benefited from this free service is Ronise Cummings, a 20-year-old mother of 3-year-old CJ and a 6-month old. She tells us that she’s grateful for this service, which has allowed her to pursue some of her dreams.

“Working, school, just free time and while they are at school I get some ‘me time,’” said Cummings.

These classrooms, one for infants and one for toddlers, will allow the organization to take more people off their wait list, which is 150 deep, and will be run by qualified teachers. Those utilizing this building are people living nearby on the grounds of the housing authority who can’t afford childcare.

“We help those children develop the opportunity for a lifetime of success, we work with them in terms of their social skills, their emotional skills and their intellectual skills,” said Tavill.

This modular building is the 14th location across Sarasota County and they are looking at continuing their expansion to be able to offer their services to people who are still on their wait list.

“It’s hard out here, especially as a single parent, it’s a good opportunity,” said Cummings.

This building is scheduled to officially open early next month. For more information you can log onto www.childrenfirst.net.

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