Early Head Start graduates surrounded by love, support

Proud families packed the room as their youngest members prepared to graduate from Eckerd Kids’ Early Head Start program on Saturday, June 24.

The 28 youngsters, all around 3 years old, tried their best to stand in a straight line and smile for the cameras.

“This was a great way to get the community out here, and to have these 3 and 4-year olds put on a cap and gown to see what they’re future is going to be like,” said Jo Lynn Smith, operations director for Florida Community and Residential Services with Eckerd Kids.

Located in the heart of Ybor City in Hillsborough County, Early Head Start is a truly grassroots initiative. The program’s mission is to provide high quality education, comprehensive care and support services to infants, toddlers, and their families – all for free.

According to Smith, the show of support surrounding their first “graduating” class was overwhelming.

“We had many more people than we expected because they brought their families, which is awesome,” said Smith. “We’re definitely grassroots. We’re based right here in the community. We’re here to lift people up. I think our participants can see that.”

Currently, Eckerd Early Head Start is only available in Tampa, FL. Priority will be given to families residing in the Sulphur Springs and Ybor City areas. Interested parents and caregivers should contact us at earlyheadstart@eckerd.org or (888) 898-7978.