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State won’t renew one NEON contract, others in jeopardy

NORWALK, Conn. – The state Department of Social Services has informed Norwalk Economic Opportunity Now (NEON) that it will not renew a contract set to expire Dec. 31, that it violated its contract and failed to provide services for another despite accepting the funding, and that it will no longer be allowed to handle vendor payments for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

The letter also put NEON board members on notice that it is in danger of losing its Human Services Infrastructure Initiative (contract CBG-33) funding that would affect its ability to continue to operate.

(See letter and contract description pdfs attached at end of story)

The letter, signed by DSS Deputy Commissioner Raymond Singleton Jr., was sent to NEON Board of Directors Chairman Michael Berkoff and interim President and CEO Chiquita Stephenson, who was placed on unpaid leave of absence Wednesday. Copies went to the NEON board and state officials.

DSS said in the letter it will enter into a new contract with NEON for one year, with corresponding funding, but with additional language added regarding added requirements for programmatic and financial reporting. All of that is contingent upon NEON’s status as a designated Community Action Agency, financial stability and performance. The letter said. Any failure to comply with program and agreed-upon contractual requirements, or if NEON’s financial status deteriorates to the point where it can no longer sustain operations,” DSS will being moving it programs elsewhere.

The letter points to a contract packet dated Aug. 9, 2013, sent to NeON with a return deadline of Sept 30 that has not yet been received. DSS gave NEON until Nov. 15 to complete and return the contract or risk losing all CSBG and HSI services.

The other items addressed included:

• Notification that the Social Services Block Grant contract for case management services including individual service plan development, counseling, monitoring, developing, securing and coordinating services; monitoring and evaluating client progress; and assuring clients’ rights are protected; will not be renewed when it ends Dec. 31.

• A contract for Hispanic Human Services Development that expired Sept. 30 was not fulfilled, with services not provided for the monitoring period from April 1 through Oct. 17. As NEON accepted money for the services, the letter stated, the department will investigate NEON’s use of the funding.

• The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program contract will be adjusted to allow NEON to continue to do client intake, certification, fuel delivery authorizations and other administrative duties, but the agency will not handle vendor payments. Also, should NEON not comply with the terms of the contract, the contract may be terminated immediately.

NEON has already seen its Head Start contract suspended for at least 30 days and its Department of Corrections halfway house contracts terminated.

DSS letter to NEON

DSS-NEON Contract Information

 

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