College delays pre-K center closure
— 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
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.
After originally announcing it would close the Family Education Center on Sept. 30, Cecil College has delayed the closing until Dec. 31.