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Head Start posts layoff notices for 280 employees

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Linda Jefferson, the former Toledo Troopers football player, leads her Head Start class in a movement exercise during an afternoon class in March.

The Blade
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A new provider for the federal Head Start program in Toledo will be announced next week, and it’s unclear what will happen with the early-childhood education program’‍s employees.

Community Development Institute, the interim-Head Start provider for Toledo, plans to lay off 280 employees on July 31, as a new provider has been awarded a Head Start grant, the company said in a Workforce Adjustment and Retraining Notification notice filed with the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services and made public Thursday.

While the winner of the Head Start grant has not been announced, it likely is a community collaborative group that‘s led by Toledo Public Schools, though a TPS spokesman said the district has received no official word about the grant.

The grant is for more than $12 million to run the early childhood education program, which would serve 2,400 children.

The local Head Start program was one of dozens that U.S. Department of Health and Human Services put up for competition in 2011 for the first time. None of the bidders, which included the Economic Opportunity Planning Association of Greater Toledo and TPS, was selected. The U.S. government bid it out again late last year.

CDI of Denver was given the grant on an interim basis while the federal government went through the bidding process.

With a new entity taking over the program on Aug. 1, CDI will no longer employ them and thus must lay them off. The company referred questions to HHS; Toledo employees informed The Blade that they had signed agreements not to speak to the media.

Health and Human Services spokesman Ken Wolfe said the department is in negotiations with an organization or organizations to be selected as the new local Head Start provider. The new provider will be announced June 12, he said.

It’s not clear how many of the 280 employees would be hired by the new grant recipient.The school district has said it wants Head Start teachers to have at least an early-childhood education degree; many Toledo Head Start teachers do not have such a degree, making them currently ineligible for employment in a TPS-led Head Start program.

“It will be up to the new grantee to determine who will be hired,” Mr. Wolfe said, “although it is likely that many current CDI employees will be rehired by the new grantee.”

The government announced in late August that Toledo would be part of a national pilot initiative, expanding its local Head Start program to offer services for children from birth through age 5.

Contact Nolan Rosenkrans at: nrosenkrans@theblade.com or 419-724-6086, or on Twitter @NolanRosenkrans.

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