The crisis at Cape Cod Child Development reached a crescendo Friday with the troubled agency announcing it had come under a "management and affiliation agreement" with Job Training and Employment Corporation. JTEC is likely a way forward for CCCD to survive its recent fiscal and programmatic challenges.
JTEC is a respected administrator of both state and federal programs. As CCCD's message states, "JTEC has an established track record for successful restructuring and continuation of important programs and vital services..."
CCCD's Head Start grant expires on June 30, 2019. Head Start headquarters has contracted with Community Development Institute (CDI), of Denver, Colorado, to administer the Cape's Head Start program until a new grantee is awarded. CDI has provided interim management services to over 200 Head Start programs across the nation. With transitional management in place, there should be no interruption in Head Start services after Cape Cod Child Development surrenders the keys.
The local Head Start program has come under sharp criticism by federal regulators in recent months, including a scathing report issued in October. Federal Head Start spokespersons previously told Cape Cod Today that the level of deficiency found in Cape Cod Child Development's Head Start program required that the Cape Head Start grant be put out to competitive bid at its expiration.
It is not known whether or not CCCD/JTEC will bid for the Head Start grant when that process begins.
Head Start officials issued their final report on the October deficiency findings. Normally the agency moves to initiated termination proceedings when an agency fails to cure its deficiencies, but Head Start is allowing CCCD's program to continue until June 30, 2019. In a letter dated March 7, 2019, Marina Winkler, Regional Program Manager, Office of Head Start, states that "...four deficiencies have not been correct. When a grantee has uncorrected findings, OHS initiates termination proceedings..." In this case, Ms. Winkler states that, "OHS has made a determination, in the best interest of the children and families, to begin the orderly and thoughtful transition of CCCDP's Head Start program to Community Development, Inc. (CDI) interim grantee." She further states that "on July 1, 2019, CDI will be fully operational, which will negate disruptions of services for enrolled children and families and also mitigates the potential of job losses for qualified staff whom CDI would employ." (See image of letter below) Download the full 2019 follow up report here.
The recent negative findings by Office of Head Start were primarily in the area of fiscal management, policy compliance and mounting debt. The report indicates that CCCD borrowed $160,000 from JTEC on January 3, 2019 to meet a payroll.
The report also cites continued issues with supervision of children, including proper attendance counts. It relates one incident at the Onset Center playground where the attendance sheets reported eleven children present but there were only ten observed on the playground. When the evaluator questioned the discrepancy, "neither staff answered and began to count the children. When told the number of children on the playground did not match the number on the attendance sheet, the lead teacher reviewed the attendance sheet and drew a line through the "P" for one child." "When it was time for the same children to leave the playground...no name-to-face roll call or counting was performed..."
Cape Cod Child Development's message says they will continue to offer "quality and affordable preschool education" to over 200 children and will maintain their Early Intervention designation for the Cape area. The agency's other programs are slated to continue, including School Age, Family Child Care and its Teen program.
Until two or three years ago, Cape Cod Child Development was one of the Cape's most respected philanthropic brands. Cracks have been showing in the agency's finances and program quality for two to three years and culminated with an unannounced site visit by Head Start authorities this summer. Additionally, Massachusetts EEC officials froze enrollment at three of CCCD's child care programs in January following unsatisfactory site inspections. Internal strife roiled the agency after a series of chief financial officers passed through and many long-time staffers departed during the term of former Executive Director Anne Colwell. Last spring the agency's board president, Matthew Bresette was suspended from the practice of law after misappropriating approximately $96,000 from his law firm's trust clients.
Last month the agency listed three properties for sale, including its headquarters building, with a combined asking price of $2.382 million.
With the leadership, steady hand and financial strength of JTEC, there may now be a way forward for an agency that was once one of the bright lights of Cape Cod's non-profit sector.