JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

LSF, headquartered in Tampa, has been awarded an $18 million grant to manage Duval County's federally funded Head Start programs. The grant was awarded by the Department of Health and Human Services.

LSF will be serving 1,403 children in its Head Start programs and 309 children in its Early Head Start programs. The grant period begins Tuesday and the organization expects to be fully operational by June 1.

Head Start and Early Head Start are federally funded early childhood programs for low-income families with children ages 5 and younger, including those with special needs. LSF is a Head Start grantee in Pinellas County, the city of Belle Glade, and a delegate agency in Hillsborough County.

"We are eager to begin work with the Head Start Programs in Duval County. LSF has significant experience in managing Head Start programs and providing services to children and families," said LSF President and CEO Samuel Sipes. "We look forward to working with community leaders and community partners to ensure the children and families who use these services are the real beneficiaries."

LSF said it will work closely with the current interim organization, Community Development Institute Head Start, and other key community partners, including Children's Home Society of Florida and Lutheran Social Services of Northeast Florida, to ensure a smooth transition.

"Lutheran Social Services is excited about partnering with LSF to add Head Start services to the work we're already providing in nutritional education, mental health services and children's feeding programs," said LSS President and CEO Wayne Rieley.

Under the $18 million grant award, $3.5 million is a non-federal share, which is the portion of the total costs of the program provided by the grantee agency in the form of in-kind donations or cash match received from third parties or contributed by the agency.

For more information about LSF and Head Start, click here.