Col­lege de­lays pre-K cen­ter clo­sure

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - By JES­SICA IAN­NETTA

jian­netta@ce­cil­whig.com

— Af­ter orig­i­nally plan­ning to close the Fam­ily Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­ter in Hollingsworth Manor at the end of Septem­ber, Ce­cil Col­lege has now de­cided to ex­tend that dead­line to Dec. 31.

The col­lege has op­er­ated the cen­ter in part­ner­ship with the Maryland Fam­ily Net­work for more than 25 years but an­nounced in April that it planned to end this ar­range­ment on Sept. 30. Though col­lege of­fi­cials said the primary rea­son for end­ing the part­ner­ship was the re­cent loss of a $100,000 class­room grant, they also noted that the con­tin­ued fi­nan­cial un­cer­tainty sur­round­ing the cen­ter’s pri­mar­ily grant-funded ser­vices was a ma­jor fac­tor.

The cen­ter cur­rently serves more than 70 chil­dren from ages 6 weeks to 5 years old and their fam­i­lies through preschool and pre-K classes as well as par­ent­ing and GED classes.

About a month af­ter the col­lege an­nounced its de­ci­sion to close the cen­ter in Septem­ber, the MFN asked col­lege of­fi­cials to consider ex­tend­ing that dead­line until the end of the year in or­der to give it more time

ELKTON

to find an­other part­ner. If the MFN is un­able to find a new part­ner by the end of the year, the cen­ter could close.

With a longer time­line se­cured, MFN of­fi­cials said that start­ing on July 1, they plan to be­gin meet­ing with prospec­tive or­ga­ni­za­tions to take over the col­lege’s role.

Ce­cil Col­lege is one of 26 or­ga­ni­za­tions through­out Maryland that the MFN part­ners with to run fam­ily sup­port cen­ters. MFN re­ceives fed­eral and state fund­ing for var­i­ous early child­hood pro­grams and sub­con­tracts those funds to the col­lege, which runs the pro­grams and hires the staff. The col­lege also seeks out and

re­ceives its own grants to fund pro­gram­ming.

One of the grants the MFN re­ceives is for Early Head Start, a fed­eral pro­gram that helps preg­nant women, in­fants and tod­dlers from low-in­come fam­i­lies. The Fam­ily Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­ter is the only place in the county where this pro­gram is of­fered.

The Maryland Ru­ral De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion also leases space in­side the cen­ter to op­er­ate one of its three county Head Start pro­grams, a pro­gram that pro­motes school readi­ness for chil­dren from birth to age 5. MRDC Head Start Di­rec­tor Marisol Ro­driguez told the Whig last month that the or­ga­ni­za­tion plans to con­tinue op­er­at­ing the Head Start pro­gram out of the cen­ter and is also po­ten­tially in­ter­ested in step­ping into a big­ger role.

CE­CIL WHIG FILE PHOTO

Af­ter orig­i­nally an­nounc­ing it would close the Fam­ily Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­ter on Sept. 30, Ce­cil Col­lege has de­layed the clos­ing until Dec. 31.

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