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Keeping Keeping
Raising healthy kids is a big job! On these pages, you will find helpful information and resources on child health, development and nutrition to help you keep your child healthy, active and ready to succeed. Remember, the information provided on this website cannot take the place of in-person visits with your healthcare provider. Regular check-ups are essential to keeping your children healthy!
 
From newborn through teen years, regular checkups are needed to make sure your child is healthy and developing well. Your pediatrician, family physician or nurse practitioner can help you monitor your child's health, growth and development, diagnose and treat mild to moderate illnesses, and provide referrals and work with specialists in case of illnesses or disorders that require special expertise.
  • Choosing your Child’s Pediatric Health Care Provider is an important decision. Children and adults are physically and mentally different, and so are their healthcare needs. Finding doctors, nurses and specialists who understand these differences is sometimes challenging.  The following links will help you find a doctor that’s right for your child. 
    -Sarasota Memorial Hospital HealthLine is a physician information and referral service that can help you find a provider for your child. 
    -American Academy of Pediatrics offers a tool to help families Find a Pediatrician in your local area. 
  • Children’s Immunizations help prevent your child from getting measles, mumps and many other dangerous diseases.  Also, children need immunizations to enroll in a Sarasota County Public School. These resources provide information to guide decisions about immunizations for your child, and locations where immunizations are offered.
    -The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers an interactive immunization scheduler for your child.
    -Sarasota County Health Department updates the required list of immunizations required for school entry.  To learn more visit this site.
  • County Health Services Sarasota County Health Department operates several Health Centers throughout the county, providing an array of services to eligible residents, including primary medical and dental care for pregnant women, children, teens and adults.
  • Give Your Baby The Best Possible Start In Life - Becoming a parent is an exciting time in a woman’s life.  Whether you are trying to conceive, already pregnant, or have a new baby, the Pregnancy Resource Center at the Healthy Start Coalition of Sarasota County, Inc. has information and resources to support the health and well-being of your growing family.

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Your child's primary health care professional can help identify the need for consultation and appropriate referral to pediatric medical, surgical or developmental specialists. The Sarasota region has a number of specialty pediatric providers and facilities nearby to help children get the best care possible.
  • All Children's Hospital provides parents with a complete list of specialty care programs and services for children of any age.  This includes pediatric medical, diagnostic, surgical, development, rehabilitation and support services. 
  • The Florida Department of Health Children's Medical Services provides an array of services that support children with special health care needs. 
  • Sarasota Memorial Health Care System, the Gulf Central Early Steps program assures that early intervention services and supports are available to children with developmental delays from birth to 36 months of age.
  • Shriners Hospitals for Children® is a health care system of 22 hospitals dedicated to improving the lives of children by providing specialty pediatric care, innovative research and outstanding teaching programs. Children up to the age of 18 with orthopedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries and cleft lip and palate are eligible for admission and receive all care in a family-centered environment with no financial obligation to patients or families.

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Health insurance helps cover the cost of medical care, hospital care and sometimes prescription medications. Health insurance is available to individuals and families on an individual basis, through group plans and government programs.
  • County Healthcare Help-Sarasota County Health Department - Several Health Centers operate throughout the county, providing an array of services to residents including services for children and teens regardless of income.
  • Discount Prescription Drug Card - You and your family can receive discounts on prescription drugs at many local pharmacies through the United Way of Sarasota County's drug discount card program is free, with no enrollment.
  • Family Health Insurance Options- Find out the health insurance options and resources for your family through Get Sarasota Insured.
  • Health Insurance for Children - Through Florida KidCare, the state of Florida offers health insurance for children from birth through age 18, even if one or both parents are working. 
  • Healthcare for Moms-to-Be - If you're a pregnant women on Medicaid, MomCare pays for prenatal care and other health services for pregnant women.
  • Health Insurance Marketplace, Affordable Care Act- Healthcare.gov - The Health Insurance Marketplace helps uninsured people find health coverage.

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Good nutrition is essential to children's physical and mental health and development. Consistent healthy nutrition is a foundation for a healthy childhood. Sometimes this is difficult because children can be picky eaters, or because families struggle financially to provide healthy choices for their children. Helping kids lead healthy lifestyles begins with healthy parents who lead by example. Below are some local programs that support healthy nutrition for your child and family as well as some national resource links to help guide you in the management of our child's nutrition.
  • Breastfeeding Support-New moms can get the guidance and skills they need at Sarasota Memorial Hospital for breastfeeding and preparing to pump before going back to work.  For more information and support for your breastfeeding needs Healthy Start of Sarasota County can connect you with lactation consultants, rental breast pumps and more! Join mothers and their babies at Forty Carrots Family Center, with a weekly free Breastfeeding Support Group led by a Certified Lactation Consultant and Registered Nurse certified in maternal-newborn nursing.
  • Dietary Guidelines -The USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) provides complete dietary guidelines for nutrition.
  • Free and Reduced Price Food for Your Child -Sarasota County School District School Lunch help is available for all children with income need are eligible for free or reduced price school lunches. Visit Free and Reduced Price Meals for an application and more information.
    -BackPack Kids Program - Participating low-income children in grades K-5 are sent home with a backpack of healthy, kid-friendly food on Fridays and during school holidays when they may otherwise go without a meal.
    -Kids Café - provides evening meals in a safe and supportive environment to children at risk of going hungry at night.
  • Grocery Guide, Recipes & More- Have questions about what nutritious foods to feed you family?Go, Slow, Whoa ! is a grocery list designed to help you make the right food choices.
    -Family Guide to Healthy Eating - Find practical, up-to-date information you can use to balance good nutrition and a busy family schedule, including recipes, expert interviews, snack and meal tips, and more!
  • Nutrition Classes for Families- All Faiths Food Bank provides nutritional education for low-income, at-risk children and their families. Four sessions will teach you and your family about nutrition, label reading, menu creation and preparation - and you take home the meals!
  • Making Nutrition Fun for Kids - Nourish Interactive - Parents can find games for kids, interactive nutrition tools and tips to use to promote healthy living for the whole family.
  • Obesity Prevention - The Sarasota County Wellness Coalition offers quarterly education programs on obesity prevention and healthy living.  These forums are always free and open to the public.
  • Public School Lunch Menu - School Lunch Menus for Sarasota County are available here.
  • Sarasota Kids for Health - SRQ Kids 4 Health is a great Web site for Sarasota families and local educators to access local resources that can improve health and wellness for Sarasota County’s youth!  Topics such as fitness, nutrition, mental health, substance abuse prevention and more are covered.
  • WIC Program -WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) is a federal nutrition program for pregnant women, women with infant children, breastfeeding women, infants and children up to age five who meet certain eligibility requirements (including income level).  WIC services are available at two locations; Heath Department Sarasota and South County Community Clinic.

  • Healthy Eating Habits for Families -Healthy Sarasota offers families the information they need to maintain healthy eating habits and active lifestyles.

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Parents play a key role in keeping children healthy and fit by making physical activity a regular part of family life. Physical activity, along with balanced nutrition, provides the foundation for an active, healthy life.
  • Sarasota Parks and Recreation - Sarasota County is home to some of the most in-demand beaches, trails, parks and recreation facilities. With more than 200 parks, 109 athletic fields, 16 recreation and community centers, miles of pristine beaches and more than 2000 acres of open space parkland Sarasota County Parks and Recreation offers something for everyone!
  • Sports, Fitness and Recreation - Boys & Girls Club of Sarasota has basketball leagues, Judo, and swimming programs to help nurture your child’s fitness and provide social and interpersonal skills as well.
    -Let’s Move gives parents the support they need to help kids to be more physically active, and supports efforts to provide healthier food in schools and to make healthy, affordable food available in every part of our country.
  • Fitness and Sports Programs for Kids - Have a child who wants to play recreational sports?   The Sarasota YMCA and South County Family YMCA and the Sarasota County Parks and Recreation offer a variety of sports and fitness programs kids and adults.
  • Find Youth Activities in Sarasota County - TheLookup941.org allows parents to search for out of school time activities offered across Sarasota County.
  • Don't forget to visit "Youth Sports" on our Before and After School Care page.

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Even as infants and toddlers, young children sometimes need support to optimize their social and emotional development, which for some children, includes mental health services. A young child's mental health describes their social and emotional development, including the developing capacity to express and regulate a range of emotions, develop positive relationships with caregivers, and explore their environment and learn. Children's emotions and behaviors change as they grow and adapt to life's ups and downs. Sometimes, their behavior is a sign of more serious developmental or mental health difficulties. Getting a better understanding of your child's strengths and needs is an important first step to support their healthy emotional development.
  • Supporting Healthy Emotional Development - Visit the "Being the Best Parent" link to learn how you can support your child’s healthy emotional development through everyday routines and activities. Zero To Three offers tips and tools for promoting your child’s social and emotional development and information and tips to help you understand and cope with some of the typical challenges parents face in the early years.
  • Concerned about your Child’s Development? -As a parent, you know your child best. If your child is not meeting the milestones for his or her age, or if you think there could be a problem with the way your child plays, learns, speaks, or acts, talk to your child’s doctor and share your concerns. Don’t wait. Recognizing and addressing problems early gives children the best opportunity to overcome these challenges. Developmental screening provides a quick and simple way to monitor a child’s healthy development. Click on "Your Growing Child" to learn more. Two national websites allow parents to learn more about their child’s developmental stages. Learn the Signs, Act Early and First Signs. For tips on sharing concerns about a child’s development, click here.
  • Developmental and Behavioral Support Services provide developmental screening, evaluation, and treatment services for young children.  Check out our "Special Needs" page for more resources, or click on the links below for more information.
  • Through Sarasota Memorial Health Care System, the Gulf Central Early Steps program assures that early intervention services and supports are available to children with developmental delays from birth to 36 months of age.
    -The Florida Center for Child and Family Development, located in Sarasota County, employs a comprehensive, family-centered team approach to support the development of infants, toddlers, and young children. 
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder Help - The Center for Autism Resources and Education (C.A.R.E.) is a nonprofit organization based in Bradenton aimed to meet the ever-growing needs of our community members who are facing autism and related disorders. 
  • Child Psychiatry/Psychological Services - The Florida Center provides a full array of counseling services for your family’s mental heath and behavioral needs.
    -The All Children’s Hospital Pediatric Psychiatry Program treats children and teens with a         variety of mental health problems, including ADHD, anxiety, depression, psychoses, eating disorders and behavioral problems.
  • Child Neuropsychiatry Services -The Rothman Center for Pediatric Neuropsychiatry at All Children’s Hospital and the University of South Florida features programs to help children with a wide range of psychiatric, behavioral and neurocognitive conditions.  Treatment programs include Autism Spectrum Disorder, Tic disorders, Trichotillomania (hair pulling), Skin picking, School refusal, Phobias, Prader-Willi Syndrome, Obsessive-compulsive disorder and more.
  • Counseling Services for Children - Jewish Family & Children Services provides counseling for youth and adolescents on issues typically involving the whole family.
  • Counseling Services for Families - Bayside Center for Behavioral Health - is located within Sarasota Memorial Hospital and offers families in and out patient counseling, group therapy and support groups for mental health issues.  
  • Family Focused Infant/Young Child Mental Health Therapy - The Florida Center for Child and Family Development specializes in infant and young children's mental health, providing mental health services for children from birth through age eight and their family members.
  • Emotional, behavioral and/or substance abuse problems - Outpatient Therapy at Coastal Behavioral Healthcare Center. Our licensed professionals are trained in providing integrated treatment of co-occurring mental health and addiction disorders using best and promising practices that promote holistic health.

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The following sites are excellent sources of information for managing your child’s health, development and overall wellbeing.
  • Kids Health is the most-visited site on the Web for information about health, behavior, and development from before birth through the teen years. 
  • Healthy Childrenby the American Academy of Pediatrics provides guidance to parents on child growth and development, health, nutrition, safety and fitness. 
  • American Academy of Pediatrics is dedicated to the health of all children. This full-service website offers information on a wide range of children’s health topics.
  • Learn the Signs, Act Early (CDC Website)offers information and vital resources covering a range of issues about child development, including autism spectrum disorders.
  • Zero to Three with a mission to promote the health and development of infants and toddlers, parents can find a tremendous amount of resources on this site for their growing baby.
  • Project ABC offers parents helpful written and video guidance to help support their child’s social and emotional development.

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