MRDC leases Fam­ily Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­ter

Cecil Whig - - LOCAL - By BRI­ANNA SHEA

bshea@ce­cil­whig.com

— The Mary­land Ru­ral De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion will lease the Fam­ily Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­ter from the town start­ing in Oc­to­ber as the cen­ter looks to find its foot­ing fol­low­ing Ce­cil Col­lege’s de­ci­sion to end its in­volve­ment with the cen­ter.

On Wed­nes­day night, the town board ap­proved a lease with the MRDC for the cen­ter at 200 Road B in Hollingsworth Manor. The lease be­gins on Oct. 1 and is for 15 years at the cost of $1 an­nu­ally and can be re­newed, town ad­min­is­tra­tor Lewis George said in an email on Thurs­day.

The new lease comes af­ter Ce­cil Col­lege, whose name is on the cen­ter’s cur­rent lease, gave its 90-day no­tice

ELK­TON

on May 6, George said.

Ce­cil Col­lege has op­er­ated the cen­ter in part­ner­ship with the Mary­land Fam­ily Net­work for more than 25 years. But the col­lege an­nounced in April that it planned to end this ar­range­ment due to the loss of a grant as well the con­tin­ued fi­nan­cial un­cer­tainty sur­round­ing the cen­ter’s pri­mar­ily grant-funded ser­vices.

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. MRDC al­ready rents space in the cen­ter for one of its Head Start pro­grams, which pro­motes school readi­ness for chil­dren from birth to age 5.

“MRDC’s agree­ment to take over the role of ‘host,’ so to speak, was a wel­comed op­por­tu­nity for the town to keep the pro­gram­ming up and run­ning seam­lessly,” George said.

Chris Ben­z­ing, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of MRDC, said there will be lit­tle change for the cen­ter.

“All that’s chang­ing is that we are over­see­ing the man­age­ment of the build- ing and the main­te­nance,” he said.

Ben­z­ing said the build­ing cur­rently houses four Head Start classes and two Early Head Start pro­grams, al­though Ce­cil Col­lege’s sup­port of the lat­ter will ex­pire at the end of the year. He said the col­lege will still of­fer some adult ed­u­ca­tion classes at the cen­ter.

Those Early Head Start pro­grams were pre­vi­ously op­er­ated by Ce­cil Col­lege through an agree­ment with the Mary­land Fam­ily Net­work. The col­lege is one of 26 or­ga­ni­za­tions in the state that the MFN part­ners with to run fam­ily sup­port cen­ters. MFN re­ceives fed­eral and state fund­ing for nu­mer­ous early child­hood pro­grams and sub­con­tracts that fund­ing to del­e­gate agen­cies, such as Ce­cil Col­lege, to run the pro­grams.

With Ce­cil Col­lege’s de­ci­sion to end is in­volve­ment, the MFN is look­ing for a lo­cal part­ner in the county to op­er­ate the ex­ist­ing Early Head Start pro­gram, which pro­vides chil­dren de­vel­op­ment and fam­ily sup­port ser­vices to low-in­come fam­i­lies with chil­dren un­der 3 years old and preg­nant women.

An in­for­ma­tional meeting at the FEC cen­ter is sched­uled for next Tues­day from 1 to 3 p.m. Those who are in­ter­ested in at­tend­ing the meeting should RSVP to Linda Ram­sey, the MFN’s deputy di­rec­tor fam­ily sup­port, at lram­sey@ mary­land­fam­i­lynet­work. org with your name, ti­tle, agency name, ad­dress and phone num­ber.

FILE PHOTO

The Mary­land Ru­ral De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion will be­gin leas­ing the Fam­ily Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­ter on Oct. 1.

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