MRDC to take over op­er­a­tion of Fam­ily Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­ter

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - By JES­SICA IANNETTA

jian­netta@ce­cil­whig.com

— Af­ter months of un­cer­tainty, a new part­ner­ship be­tween the Mary­land Ru­ral De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion and the Mary­land Fam­ily Net­work will keep the Fam­ily Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­ter in Hollingsworth Manor open for the fore­see­able fu­ture.

The MFN has been look­ing for a new part­ner to op­er­ate the cen­ter since Ce­cil Col­lege an­nounced in April that it planned to end its in­volve­ment with the cen­ter af­ter more than 25 years. On Thurs­day, MFN an­nounced that MRDC,

ELK­TON

which has op­er­ated four Head Start classes out of the cen­ter for many years, will take as part­ner start­ing Jan. 1. In its new role, MRDC will con­tinue to run its Head Start pro­grams but will also run the Early Head Start pro­gram and the build­ing op­er­a­tion as well.

“We’re re­ally happy to be able to part­ner with MFN, Elk­ton and Ce­cil County to make sure these nec­es­sary ser­vices stay in one lo­ca­tion,” said Chris Der­ring, MRDC ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor. “The need for com­pre­hen­sive care for low-in­come fam­i­lies is so great, and now we’ll have them from in utero all the way up to kinder­garten.”

Head Start and Early Head Start are both fed­er­ally-funded pro­grams that pro­mote school readi­ness for chil­dren from low-in­come fam­i­lies. Head Start fo­cuses on chil­dren from birth to age 5 while Early Head Start is geared to­ward preg­nant women, in­fants and tod­dles.

Although MRDC op­er­ates an­other Head Start class in Ce­cil­ton, the Elk­ton cen­ter is the only lo­ca­tion in the county that of­fers Early Head Start. When Ce­cil Col­lege an­nounced its

de­ci­sion to pull out of the cen­ter, cit­ing the loss of a grant as well as con­tin­ued un­cer­tainty sur­round­ing the cen­ter’s pri­mar­ily grant-funded ser­vices, there were wor­ries that the FEC might close if an­other part­ner couldn’t be found.

Ce­cil Col­lege ini­tially planned to end its in­volve­ment with the cen­ter at the end of Septem­ber, but later pushed that dead­line back to Dec. 31 in or­der to give the MFN more time to find a new part­ner.

The MFN has sim­i­lar part­ner­ships with 25 other or­ga­ni­za­tions through­out the state to run fam­ily sup­port cen­ters. In this ar­range­ment, MFN re- ceives fed­eral and state fund­ing for var­i­ous early child­hood pro­grams, such as Early Head Start, and then sub­con­tracts those funds to its part­ners, which run the pro­grams and hire the staff.

In MFN’s search for a new part­ner for the Elk­ton cen­ter, MRDC emerged as a nat­u­ral fit, said Linda Ram­sey, MFN deputy ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor. Be­cause MRDC al­ready oper- ated Head Start pro­grams out of the cen­ter, adding the Early Head Start pro­grams made sense and will al­low fam­i­lies to eas­ily move from one pro­gram to an­other, Ram­sey added.

“It was clear MRDC shared our goal of con­tin­u­ing ser­vices at the Fam­ily Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­ter with as lit­tle dis­rup­tion to the fam­i­lies as pos­si­ble,” she said.

MRDC’s ap­pli­ca­tion also made it clear that the or­ga­ni­za­tion had the in­fra­struc­ture and busi­ness-savvy to take on the op­er­a­tion of the cen­ter, Ram­sey added.

Fi­nally, Ram­sey said the MFN was im­pressed by MRDC’s com­mit­ment to the early child­hood pro­grams and to the cen­ter. She noted that MRDC of­fi­cials signed a lease for the cen­ter with the town of Elk­ton in Septem­ber, be­fore they found out whether MFN would chose them as the new part­ner.

The col­lege pre­vi­ously held the lease on the build­ing but MRDC signed a new lease with the town for $1 a year that started Oct. 1. The lease on the build­ing, lo­cated at 200 Road B in Hollingsworth Manor, will run for 15 years with the op­tion to be re­newed.

Sign­ing that lease was an easy de­ci­sion for MRDC, Der- ring said, not­ing that be­fore the or­ga­ni­za­tion signed the con­tract, he as­sured Ram­sey MRDC would never kick the Early Head Start pro­gram out of the build­ing, re­gard­less of who was cho­sen as the new part­ner agency.

With the new part­ner­ship with MRDC set to start the day af­ter the part­ner­ship with the col­lege ends, Ram­sey said she couldn’t be more pleased with how smooth the tran­si­tion has been.

“Six months in my life is one thing but six months in the life of a tod­dler is a long time,” she said. “We knew we couldn’t wait.”

CE­CIL WHIG FILE PHOTO

The Mary­land Ru­ral De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion will take over the op­er­a­tion of the Fam­ily Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­ter in Hollingsworth Manor start­ing Jan. 1.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.