Isaac forces temporary halt of Head Start program
10th September 2012 · 0 Comments
By Zoe Sullivan
“We were taken aback by the amount of damage that our facilities received from this so-called category one hurricane.” Pearlie H. Elloie shared her consternation with The Louisiana Weekly in a phone interview. Total Community Action, Inc. (TCA), where Elloie serves as the Director of the Office of Children, Youth and Families, announced the day after Labor Day that its Head Start facilities would be closed until further notice due to damage sustained during Hurricane Isaac.
TCA operates 13 Head Start Centers that serve approximately 1500 children. It also supervises additional centers run by “delegate agencies” that serve another 350 children. The organization was born in 1964 out of the “War on Poverty” movement that led government to see fighting poverty as a means to fight crime. Part of the “War’s” strategy involved community-level, community-led efforts.
Elloie informed The Louisiana Weekly that all of its facilities would be up and running on Monday, September 10. However, the Gentilly East Center, on Reynes St., will be operating at a somewhat reduced capacity because of the negative impact the storm had on the building.
Explaining that the most serious issue resulting from the storm related to the roof, Elloie said that “like everybody, we had debris in the yard. Because of the roof damage, we had leakage.” Elloie estimated that 17 families would be on a waiting list for Head Start services as a result of the repairs needed at the Gentilly center. She noted that the building would use its cafeteria as a classroom on a temporary basis in order to try and accommodate both the families’ needs and the construction work.
“It has been a struggle for them these few days that we’ve been closed,” Elloie said of the parents who count on TCA’s Head Start services. For many, the services offer families a way to begin their children’s education while they hold down jobs. As a result, finding childcare when the services are not available can present a challenge. Elloie thanked families for their patience and offered her assurances that Head Start would be back on track on the 10th.
This article was originally published in the September 10, 2012 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper