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Feds: CDI to hire Head Start staff Monday

(Updated 5:15 p.m. with Mayor Harry Rilling’s comment.)

NORWALK, Conn. – There may be some light at the end of the long, dark tunnel for Norwalk’s Head Start families.

According to the Administration for Children (ACF), Community Development Institute (CDI), the Colorado-based organization that has been hired to take over the local Head Start program on an interim basis, will hire teachers and staff Monday, Dec. 2 in preparation for re-opening the program, which has been closed since Oct. 25.

“Our office has been working with several local and state offices on this,” wrote Kenneth Wolfe, ACF’s deputy director for the Office of Public Affairs, in a Wednesday afternoon email. “… CDI, the interim provider, will be hiring Head Start teachers and staff on Monday, Dec. 2. CDI (including the newly hired teachers) will then prepare classrooms to resume Head Start education and services.”

Wolfe said his office will have an update on when classrooms will open on Monday evening.

Wolfe did not answer a question about what has taken so long.

Norwalk Mayor Harry Rilling, who, along with several state and federal officials, spoke at length with ACF Wednesday, said he could not say exactly when Head Start would open.

“We have been in discussion with them for a major part of the day,” Rilling said. “It was a good discussion, and we are optimistic” that the program will resume shortly.

ACF suspended Norwalk Economic Opportunity Now’s (NEON) contract to run the program Oct. 24 for “at least 30 days” and appointed CDI to step in. For nearly three weeks, NEON officials said negotiations were ongoing with CDI over use of the Nathaniel Ely and Benjamin Franklin schools, which NEON had under contract with Norwalk for use in addition to the Head Start program. That situation was resolved about a week ago, according to NEON officials.

A CDI employee referred all questions about the program, including the delay, to ACF.

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