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