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New administration named for Head Start programs
October 16, 2014 Jerry Purvis   

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Photo by Jerry Purvis/Gering Citizen - Sarah Ochoa, director of child development programs for CAPWN, and board member Tim Nolting discuss the impact of a change in administration for the agency’s Head Start programs.

Beginning Oct. 30, the Head Start programs at Community Action Partnership of Western Nebraska (CAPWN) will have a new administrator.

Sarah Ochoa, CAPWN’s director of child development programs, said they received word from the federal Office of Head Start that CAPWN would be terminated as the local grantee for the program. The action stemmed from a federal review of the program for the 2011-2012 fiscal year.

Denver-based Community Development Institute will assume administering the programs on a temporary basis until the Office of Head Start can find a new grantee. Ochoa said CDI is a national interim Head Start operations program.

“We’ve been told that about 95 percent of our staff will be rehired,” Ochoa said. “They don’t want to do anything that will disrupt services to children and families. As of Nov. 1, they will be the administration piece of the programs.”

Kimball County Commissioner and CAPWN board member Tim Nolting said there’s an appeal process with the termination letter. They contacted an attorney in Washington, D.C., who told them they had a good case. However, the legal fees could cost the agency up to $100,000, something they couldn’t afford while undergoing Chapter 11 bankruptcy restructuring.

He added that the original 2011-2012 review found an accounting error that CAPWN had no way of backing up. Consequently, there was no easy way to appeal the case.

“We need to make clear that there will be no interruption in services in terms of the Head Start and Early Head Start programs,” Nolting said. “The programs will continue without interruption and will stay in the area. Students will see the same teachers and the same bus drivers.”

There are 350 children involved in the local Head Start and Early Head Start programs. About a third of CAPWN’s workload is for the Head Start programs, so there will be some staff adjustments after CDI takes over management functions.

Nolting said indirect expenses for the program will no longer be coming in for CAPWN, so the agency will need adjust its operations to accommodate the shortfall.
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