Updated 7:25 p.m. Dec. 30 with Sen. Bob Duff comments.
NORWALK, Conn. – The Norwalk Housing Authority has been awarded the city’s Head Start Program contract by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families (ACF).
The contract award was announced in a press release Monday from Louise Eldridge, regional program manager for the Office of Head Start in Boston.
The contract begins Jan. 1 and ends Dec. 31, 2018. The budget for 2014 includes $731,350 from ACF, which represents two-thirds of the total budget. The non-federal share is $365,675.
The total covers services for 232 children (217 federal, 15 state) for the first year, with services to start Feb. 1. The designated Head Start service area is Norwalk, Weston, Westport, Wilton and New Canaan.
The contract says that, “contingent on negotiations with the regional office, projected annual funding level in fiscal year 2014 for Head Start operations is $1,435,308 and the training and technical assistance allocation is $27,391. Start-up costs are subject to additional ACF approval. The balance of the funds will be awarded when available subject to the final appropriation for Head Start for FY2014.”
How NHA will pay for its share of the budget was not clear. NHA Director Curtis Law did not immediately return a call.
According to Norwalk Mayor Harry Rilling, ACF funded Head Start through June under CDI, the agency that stepped in on an interim basis when the program was pulled from Norwalk Economic Opportunity Now (NEON).
“I mentioned to Mr. Law that, once he had an indication of what was needed – how many children would be covered, how many hours – we would sit down with the people here at City Hall and see what was needed.”
Rilling said he was pleased with the decision to give the program to NHA.
“It guarantees there will be a Head Start program” in Norwalk, he said.
State Sen. Bob Duff (D-Norwalk) said he was happy to see NHA get the contract, and pointed to the agency’s working agreements with other local institutions as a positive for the program.
“I’m pleased that we have local organizations who will be leading Head Start in Norwalk,” Duff said in a Monday night email. “The partnership between the Norwalk Housing Authority, Stepping Stones Museum for Children and Norwalk Community College will help to prepare students for Kindergarten and a successful school career. I’m excited by the news and look forward to this new partnership.”