NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk Head Start parents remained in limbo Friday, unhappy with Norwalk politicians and worried about the safety of their children.
Three Head Start families visited Norwalk Economic Opportunity Now (NEON) looking for answers and got none.
“My daughter has to learn because she has to go into kindergarten next year,” Andrea Lopez said, expressing worry.
NEON Board of Directors Chairman Mike Berkhoff said by phone later Friday that the agency’s School Readiness program will be open Monday through Friday next week.
NEON’s Head Start program was suspended Oct. 24 by the federal Administration for Children and Families, which appointed Community Development Institute (CDI) as the agency in charge of the program. Although CDI has obtained the licenses needed to open the program in the Norwalk buildings operated by NEON and Norwalk politicians said this week that they were hoping Head Start would resume by Friday, there is no indication that it will be open Monday.
The hotline set up by CDI had the same information late Friday that it had Thursday: no start date has been scheduled.
“I talked with the mayor and he say he try to open Friday,” Lopez said. “He never do anything.”
Rilling called interim NEON CEO and President the Rev. Tommie Jackso, Friday morning, while NancyOnNorwalk was in his office.
“Is there any way I can help out?” he said, going on to request that Jackson update him every other day.
Rilling told Jackson that people who are affected by the shutdown have been visiting him in his office.
NEON Head Start employees said Friday they have not been interviewed by CDI for positions with CDI Head Start.
Lopez said she and her husband have been going to work, but feel people are not giving them straight answers and are concerned about the quality of the childcare NEON is offering as a stopgap measure.
“We know there is no safety so we are worried for our kids,” Maria Sanchez said. “… We are worried because everybody is saying different ways. When we go to the mayor, he is saying they are supposed to open today. We tried to call him and he never answered the phone. We went to talk to the other guy. We called twice today but they have no called back.”
The “other guy” was state Rep. Bruce Morris (D-140).
“Now we don’t trust in anybody,” Sanchez said. “(Morris) tried to talk to the guy (at CDI). He not have news right now – I have to wait. He tried to make another meeting with him to get good news. But it’s wait, wait, wait. We have – one month.”
“I want the truth because everybody says different things,” Lopez said.
“We are worried for our kids, what is going to happen,” Sanchez said. “They not going to learn nothing.”