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Jacksonville Head Start Programs To Shut Down Early Due To Safety Concerns

WJCT has learned that Jacksonville's Head Start and Early Head Start programs, formerly run by the Jacksonville Urban League, will close on Friday, with some exceptions.

A letter sent to parents by the Community Development Institute, which the Federal government brought in to temporarily manage the program, explains they still have safety concerns. A staff member confirmed that the program is shutting down for summer nearly a month earlier than parents expected except for those kids under 3 or in the VPK program.

The full text of the letter is below:

May 13, 2013

Dear Head Start and Early Head Start Parents:

On April 10, 2013 you received a letter from Community Development Institute Head Start (CDI HS) telling you that the federal Office of Head Start had suspended Jacksonville Urban League’s (JUL) administration of the Head Start and Early Head Start grants to operate the local Head Start program and that CDI HS has been assigned by the Office of Head Start to serve as the interim manager for this program.

Since April 10th CDI HS has been conducting an assessment of program operations with the Office of Head Start and has determined that some aspects of the program are not functioning in ways that ensure children's safety. To correct this it will be necessary to hire additional qualified staff and provide intensive training. Because of this the following steps will be taken:


  • The last day of school for children enrolled in Head Start will be Friday, May 17, 2013
  • The last day of school for Early Head Start children who are now age 3 will be Friday, May 17, 2013
  • In order to fulfill the terms of the VPK contract, the last day of school for Head Start children enrolled in VPK will remain Friday, June 7th as originally scheduled
  • The last day for Early Head Start children under age 3 will be Friday, June 7th

This information has also been recorded for your reference, toll free: 855-294-5715

We are truly sorry for any disruption this may cause your family but strongly believe that it is necessary to ensure the safety of your children. You will be contacted during the summer to confirm your child's enrollment for fall and you will be provided a calendar for the school year.

If you have additional questions please contact Mr. Morrison, Family and Community Partnerships Manager at 904-721-9788 ext. 233 or Ms. Violet Owens, CDI HS Consultant Program Director at 904-721-9788.

Thank you for your patience and understanding as we work to provide the safest, highest quality services for your child and family.


Carla Blair,

NIC Site Manager

Suellen Hixon,

NIC Lead Site Manager

Karen found her home in public broadcasting after working for several years as a commercial television reporter. She joinedWJCTin 2005 as the host of 89.9 FM’s Morning Edition and has held many different roles at the station in both radio and television. She has written and produced documentaries includingBeluthahatchee: The Legacy of Stetson Kennedy and Jacksonville Beach: Against the Tide and directed the oral history project, Voices of the First Coast.