Children First: Enriching Lives of Children, Parents and Teachers

Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) Provider Children First in Durham, NC featured by National CACFP Sponsors Association

​​​​​​​In 1990, Donna King, along with other parents and teachers, envisioned a space where children come first and would not only enrich the lives of the children, but also the parents and teachers. They founded the nonprofit, Children First School at Donna’s home. Sarah Meyer works alongside Donna serving 12 children ages almost 3 to 5 years all working together.

“Our focus is to help the children grow into capable, confident, and strong individuals that are able to work together in the community,” says Meyer.

The learning at Children First is play and nature-based, focusing on the children’s interests. They create an open environment where children can choose from a selection of various learning activities. As they move through activities, they are exposed to a variety of nutritious foods and encouraged to try new foods. They often choose new selections from their garden and even if there is a food that children do not care for they say, ‘I don’t like it yet’ knowing that they can change their mind. 

Throughout the learning environment, the children practice life skills together. These skills include listening, sharing, and being an advocate for what they need. The teachers ‘coach’ the children to turn towards their peers and work out issues together in addition to using each other as resources. They grow confidence in their own ability to handle situations and learn the importance of their own voice and ideas. 

Parents are encouraged to be active. They meet with the teachers three times a year to set goals for their children and conference about their children’s portfolio of work. Parents share their expertise and hobbies with the children, take part in discussion groups, and attend two parent workdays to maintain their surroundings. With everyone working together, they have successfully created a culture of community and collaboration.

CACFP is an indicator of quality childcare. When children are cared for by providers who are part of the CACFP program they are receiving the best nutrition available. Learn more about other CACFP providers featured in the Member Showcase at CACFP's website,

Since 1986, the National CACFP Sponsors Association (NCA) is the leading national organization for sponsors who administer the USDA Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). It provides education and support to thousands of members in the CACFP community and in particular to sponsors of all sizes from across the country. CACFP strives to improve communication between families, caregivers, sponsors and their supervising government agencies.

Source: National CACFP Sponsors Association


Categories: Pre-School

Tags: CACFP, childcare, children, education, nutrition, pre-school, provider, USDA

About National CACFP Sponsors Association

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The National CACFP Sponsors Association serves as a national platform which provides education, support, and resources to organizations who administer the USDA Child and Adult Care Food Program to the CACFP community.

National CACFP Sponsors Association
PO Box 1748
Round Rock, TX 78680