NORWALK, Conn. – The Connecticut Department of Corrections has pulled another program out of Norwalk Economic Opportunity Now (NEON), board Chairman Mike Berkhoff confirmed Sunday.
The Alternatives in the Community (AIC) program has moved out of the NEON building at 98 South Main St. , South Norwalk activist Ernie Dumas said. Berkhoff confirmed that. He also said the process to transfer the Head Start program to Community Development Institute (CDI) is continuing with a meeting on Tuesday.
AIC, a U.S. Department of Justice program designed to reduce criminal recidivism, is formerly known as Alternatives to Incarceration. Dumas said the program has moved to the old juvenile court building on Commerce Street. Berkhoff said he didn’t know because he had only heard about it via a phone call and hadn’t yet gotten official written notification.
NEON’s AIC program ranks at No. 1 or near No. 1 in the state in numerous categories, AIC Director Larry Langhorn said at a recent board meeting.
Berkhoff said DOC will be interviewing NEON employees for positions in the program as it continues without NEON. The move is permanent, he said.
Meanwhile, the situation for parents of children in the Head Start program remains unchanged. CDI was appointed by the United States Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families (ACF) to take over NEON’s Head Start program. NEON has not allowed CDI to take over care of the children, saying that there are liability issues with sharing the buildings NEON leases from the city. The result is that there is currently no childcare being offered to children enrolled in NEON’s Head Start program.
Dumas said he didn’t know of anyone working to help their parents, some of who depend on Head Start for childcare while they are working. Monday is Veteran’s Day, a holiday, so it wouldn’t be open anyway. Berkhoff said NEON is not offering its child development program Tuesday.
“There’s a meeting with (CDI) on Tuesday to finish up some points within the contract so they should be open towards the end of next week,” Berkhoff said.
The NEON Board of Directors on Thursday appointed the Rev. Tommie Jackson as its newest temporary CEO. Berkhoff said Jackson met with the staff Friday to assess the situation, and what people’s roles are.
Jackson is at this point a volunteer, Berkhoff said.
“There is no salary – there is no money. Until we have commitments, there’s no salary,” Berkhoff said.
That situation will remain as long as necessary, he said. He didn’t know how much Jackson might be paid if the situation works out.
“We haven’t gotten to a number,” he said. “We’re working that out with a contract that will be negotiated.”