Troubled Daycare Closes a Second Time with Little Warning

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    NEWSLETTERS

    For the second time in two weeks, NEON or Norwalk Economic Opportunity Now is closing with little warning to parents and the executive director says Federal Head Start told them to shut down. (Published Thursday, Oct 24, 2013)

    For the second time in two weeks a day care is closing with little warning. Hundreds of Norwalk parents showed up at City Hall to protest Thursday night.

    Norwalk Economic Opportunity Now or NEON says its hands are tied. Federal Head Start told them to shut down which means that the fate of more than 500 kids is up in the air.

    "Here we are again two weeks later in the same position and now we're being told that this is indefinite," said Nicole Derry of Norwalk, adding that without NEON she has no place to put her son Jameer.

    The same happened two weeks ago when the program was closed for two days.

    "I've already lost two jobs and now I'm in the middle of training as a supervisor as a new job so I don't know what It means at this point," said Derry.

    "Now what's going to happen, nobody knows," said Fausto Benitez, another parent. "People have been asking questions. Nobody's been getting real answers about it."

    Parents tried Norwalk City Hall tonight to try and get some answers but they didn't get too far. They just got a quick word from mayoral candidate and Police Chief Harry Rilling. They were not aware parents received a letter from NEON telling them about an emergency meeting Friday and about the uncertain fate of their kids.

    "The children are being penalized," said Janet Williams whose niece and nephew are affected.

    "We were reassured by the new program director that everything was fine and they would keep in place," said Derry.

    NEON's Executive Director Chiquita Stephenson says she was handed a flier Thursday afternoon by federal head start officials that run the program. They told her there's no longer funding for it.

    "And then to tell them one day before that they'll be no childcare tomorrow, how insensitive that is," said Stephenson, who in turn had to hand fliers to her parents.

    The filer stated parents can bring their kids to NEON Friday and more information will be released on Saturday.

    "It's about helping the families. Our families cannot afford not to have childcare and miss work. They can't afford it," said Stephenson.

    "What's going to happen when I lose my job? I'm going to have to find some way to get money to feed my kids," said Benitez.

    For now Stephenson is hoping a business or foundation will step in to rescue the program.

    There will be an emergency meeting at 5pm Friday at the Nathaniel Ely School at 11 Ingalls Avenue to figure out where the children can go.