NORWALK, Conn. — The promised Monday night announcement about the Head Start program turned into an informal response to a series of emails and Tweets inquiring about when the announcement might be forthcoming.
The answer — There will be an 11 a.m. press conference Tuesday to make an announcement.
That response came from state Sen. Bob Duff (D-Norwalk), one of three state and federal officials NancyOnNorwalk contacted Monday night. The others were U.S. Rep. Jim Himes (D-Greenwich) and Kenneth Wolfe, the spokesman for the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), the federal agency that oversees Head Start and that appointed Community Development Institute (CDI) to take over the Norwalk program following Norwalk Economic Opportunity Now’s (NEON) contract suspension in October.
There was no indication what the Tuesday announcement would say.
Wednesday, Himes, Duff, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), state Rep. Bruce Morris (D-140) and Norwalk Mayor Harry Rilling were involved in a conference call with ACF, Rilling said Wednesday night, adding that discussions about Head Start had taken up”a major part of the day.”
As a result of the Wednesday discussions, CDI announced Thursday on its recorded phone message (855-294-5718) that it would be hiring staff beginning Monday and, on Monday night, would make an announcement regarding reopening this week for children enrolled in Norwalk classrooms. That announcement never came and, as of 12:26 a.m. Tuesday, the Thursday phone message had not been updated.
Prior to Wednesday’s discussions, rumors were swirling that Head Start would not reopen until January.
NEON’s contract to operate Head Start was suspended by ACF for at least 30 days on Oct. 24. ACF cited concerns about NEON’s financial practices as well as concerns about the health and safety of the children as reasons for the suspension.
Because in part of problems CDI/ACF had with NEON negotiating use of classroom space in the Benjamin Franklin and Nathaniel Ely schools, NEON Head Start families have been without a program for more than five weeks.