SoNoCC: Nothing agency can do for Head Start families

NORWALK, Conn. – Parents of Norwalk children in the Head Start program will have no place to send their children today (Tuesday) as Norwalk Economic Opportunity Now (NEON) and the agency assigned to run Head Start on an interim basis, Colorado-based Community Development Institute (CDI) continue to negotiate use of the building space at the Ely and Franklin schools. NEON’s Head Start suspension and CDI’s takeover were announced Oct. 24.

Meanwhile, the South Norwalk Community Center (SoNoCC), investigated the possibility of stepping in to provide services but was unsuccessful.

“We tried to reach out to some Norwalk ACTS members, but there’s not much anyone can do because of licensing issues,” said Patrick Ferrandino, SoNoCC deputy director. “We were told not to make our place available unless the parent accompanies the child. That doesn’t help anyone, unfortunately. We met with (Norwalk Superintendent of Schools) Dr. (Manny) Rivera (Monday) for future initiatives. We had about 30 kids and parents, many are Head Start families, with us late this afternoon for group music lessons. We feel helpless. It’s a sad, sad situation.”

There are 547 children enrolled in NEON’s Head Start program, an employee said recently.


22 responses to “SoNoCC: Nothing agency can do for Head Start families”

  1. Lifelong Teacher

    And a great big “Thank you” to Joseph Mann, Chiquita Stephenson, and their crew. This situation continues to shame our city.

  2. Don’t Panic

    Thank you SNoCC for trying.

  3. Raquel Brown

    Its very hard to find a job when u have childcare but they can’t go to school. You have parents who desperately need this program to continue work or school. What is neon going to for the parents who paid for their children to attend the head start program. I’m just very upset cause I was told my son was to attend today and find out there is no school they need to get their priorities straight and fast.

  4. I agree RBrown but I also think the parents themselves need to get their priorities straight and fast and figure out how to take care of their own children without the aid of the government and it’s taxpayers. This NEON problem will NOT be settled for a long time so ALL the parents need to figure out what to do with the kids to whom you gave birth. You and your husband (and presuming you are married) had the child now do as the rest of us had to do – how to manage taking care of children while working/going to school without Uncle Sam’s aid.

  5. Dawn

    I have to say that was quite rude. NEON offered a program, took money to offer the program, signed people up to attend the program and did a sh***y job with it.
    What ever your feeling are these people took what was offered. They are dependent on the program to provide for their family.
    Granted there are a lot of people who take advantage of the system, but don’t lump everyone together.
    LY the blame with the. Crooks that deserve it. Not the victims of their. Crimes.

  6. M Allen

    irishgirl – to some extent this is no different than if any other family lost their daycare. It creates a significant disruption in the lives of those involved. Layer on the fact that this is a subsidized program for low-income families and it creates an even bigger problem. Whereas those in traditional daycare can find a new provider, albeit with disruption and effort, it isn’t as easy or perhaps even possible, for low-income families. Believe me, I share some concernes that we have created an environment of multi-generational dependence, but for the love of God, find a tad bit of compassion. Now all Head Start families are dumping their kids off so they can go hang out with friends. Many are trying to do the right thing and work.

  7. ECE Teacher

    Irishgirl- you are very inconsiderate and rude. You have no sympathy towards not only the Head Start parents who are in this predicament but the TEACHERS who work for the program. NEON is not only Head Start but school readiness and DSS. What do you say about those parents who don’t have childcare right now? If you have children (I will assume that you do) and your child care facility closed down, do you think you can just get up the next day and find another facility or someone that can car for your child? Maybe you can but majority of families who are not even low income aren’t you. It isn’t that easy. You have to open your eyes and look at the circumstance. Good child care is not cheap. I am sure that RBrown did mange taking care of her children by sending her to a trusted program. She wasn’t depending on Uncle Sam, she was depending on NEON. It is also the middle of the school year and good daycares are full with a waiting list. YOur choice is limited.

    I was a NEON parent and now I am a teacher with a Bachelors degree and work for NEON. My child went to head start at NEON and he is one of the brightest children in his class and the top reader in the second grade all because of the teachers in head start. While I was going to school to complete my Bachelors degree, I needed a school that was affordable and accredited for my child to go that was in my budget. Thanks SoNoCC for trying for the parents and teachers who are struggling right now.

  8. Lifelong Teacher

    Sorry, ECE, but I disagree. Perhaps your son is doing well, and it’s wonderful if he is at the top of his second grade class.

    If so, I strongly suspect that is a result of your own efforts, perhaps those of his kindergarten, first, and second grade teachers, and not NEON Head Start. Most of he ‘teachers’ there aren’t trained, certainly not certified, and the majority of children are not ready for school.

  9. “I have to say that was quite rude. NEON offered a program, took money to offer the program, signed people up to attend the program and did a sh***y job with it.”
    Um, no it wasn’t rude, it’s criminal and lets direct the anger toward the people who should be at ground zero of all criminal investigation: Joe Mann, Chicky Stephenson, Phineous woman and all those from the Mann regine.
    Morris and Duff – Where are you now???!!! Duff, too busy cutting ribbons and getting photo ops? Morris, keeping as far away as possible….hmmmm….
    @ ECE Teacher “She wasn’t depending on Uncle Sam, she was depending on NEON.” And just where DOES Neon GET the money to pay for these programs… UNCLE SAM (aka taxpayers).
    As far as “not lumping everyone together”, it takes one rotten apple to spoil the bunch.

  10. EastNorwalkChick

    irishgirl, I bet you consider yourself a Christian, am I right?

  11. ECE Teacher

    To lifelong teacher- I can applaud the k-2 teachers for his head start in life to a certain extent. But my experience with the public school system curriculum has not been good nor is it challenging. What do you think Head Start is for? The teachers at NEON, I will correct you, are trained professionals and some certified. Where are you getting your facts from? You don’t have to be certified to be a great teacher. What I am getting from you is ECE teachers do nothing!!???… because they are not certified or “trained”? Or is it just NEON teachers?

    At irishgirl- MANY programs in NORWALK depend on UNCLE SAM to run their facility. I am a tax payer myself who owns property in NORWALK and there are some parents whose child attend NEON and own property. Are they also not unable to manage their life? What makes them so different from you? Who are you to judge these people and how they choose to manage their families?

  12. Raquel Brown

    I’m not going to argue with anyone on this matter me and my son who in fact looks forward to going to school everyday would like to know when will the head start program be open.

  13. M Allen

    I go back to these agencies knowing that there were issues with NEON. They made it known there were issues along the way, and then finally cut funding. Zap. Head Start and other programs gone. Why along the way weren’t they putting contingencies in place so that if the end did come, there wouldn’t be a multi-week disruption of service? I hate to say, that for the good of the end users, perhaps the agencies needed a better plan than cut funding, figure out what to do next while everyone drifts in the wind.

  14. Dawn

    Irish girl I meant you were rude.

  15. @ECE
    “What makes them so different from you? ”
    Alot and nothing
    Who are you to judge these people and how they choose to manage their families?”
    I am not judging – just giving my two cents – but IF I was dependent on a fully funded facility then I would have found other means to take care of my children. Besides the fact that they are dependent on money from taxes then I can have a say in how I view what is going on with NEON and it’s dependents.
    As for the many programs that are fully funded on Uncle Sam’s dollar – THEY aren’t in the news for “mismanagement” of money (embezzlement or theft as many others would call it). If you can, please list the programs that are 100% funded by Uncle Sam.
    Also, numerous links have been put in either NoN or the The Hour attesting to how ineffective “Head Start” programs.
    @East Norwalk Chicky: Why do you care? Just as you have asked that question leaves me no doubt that you are not a christian yourself.

  16. @Dawn,
    You can call me rude but I prefer “blunt”.

  17. ECE Teacher

    Irish girl- Just to inform you. Parents in Head Start program who work have to also pay a portion of the bill for their child to attend the program, based on their income. It isn’t 100% free. (Ask where did their money go?) Legislation laws for ECE are changing now to be sure that staff have the right qualifications to work in a Head Start program and give these children an opportunity that their parents do not have in upward mobility. What Head Start use to be… it isn’t now.
    We need to fight to save Head Start and keep it open for the sake of the children of the future and parents who wants the best and not able to afford the PRIVATE schools. Since SoNoCC can’t take the program over someone need. Or you will be paying for more then head start programs.

    Not in the state of CT, excluding some Charter schools like Side by Side, nonhead start school, some preschools are government funded (Uncle Sam) and ran in public schools and 100% free.

    ***Socialism at it’s finest.****

  18. I don’t believe in all these socialist programs. All that does is create more taxes for people who work hard for what they want and can afford to be able to pay for people who “may/may not” work hard and get what they can’t afford.
    The best for socialist programs may be what is be able to be afforded without the burden on the taxpayers. But we have a socialist president in office and has gotten his way at all costs so relax, your programs are safe.

  19. sofaman


    Schools are “socialist programs”. Police departments are “socialist programs”. Fire departments are “socialist programs”. Sweeping the streets is a “socialist program.”

    You can point fingers all day long, but the number one concern is the children. Hopefully, I’m wrong in thinking you need reminding of that.

  20. @Sofaman,
    I need not a reminder of children and where our concern should be – the parents of said children need to provide for them – if they couldn’t, they should not have had them.
    As for the other “socialist” programs you cited, those are all give backs to society in the jobs they perform.

  21. M Allen

    @sofa – Let’s not stretch the concept of all government programs being “socialist” in nature. Police, fire, street sweeping, public schools, etc. would be considered part of the common good or for the common use. A more efficient use of centralized resources, or even if not as efficient they are better housed under a single authority in the form of the government. Social programs designed to aid a subsector of a community aren’t quite the same as the aforementioned city services.

  22. M Allen

    Back to the original topic, what else is NEON offering in the locations where Head Start was being provided? Is the cohabitation with CDI holding up the process of CDI moving in and getting HS back up and running? There must be a way of ramming that through faster if games are being played.

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