Riverdale Head Start closes

A Glendale preschool center closed its doors for the second time in three months on Friday in what could represent another disruption in service for low-income families with few child care options.

Staff members were packing up and clearing out classrooms Friday at the Riverdale Head Start center in the 300 block of Riverdale Drive. The program is required to vacate the site by Dec. 31, said Kenneth Wolfe, spokesman for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees Head Start.

“Currently, [the interim operator] is looking for a new site so there is not a disruption in Head Start services,” Wolfe said.

Wolfe did not comment on when a new location would be announced, or why the program was being forced to move.

According to the Los Angeles County assessor’s office, the Riverdale Drive property is owned by Pasadena-based Center for Community and Family Services, a former Head Start grantee. It is listed for $1.8 million on several online commercial real estate websites.

In October, Center for Community and Family Services officials abruptly announced they would shutter their 10 Head Start sites in Pasadena, Altadena and Glendale. Hundreds of families were left scrambling to find at least a temporary alternative, and criticized what they described as a lack of information on when the centers would reopen.

“It’s just really frustrating, especially the lack of communication,” Glendale resident and Head Start parents Annie Azizian said at the time.

A representative for the Center for Community and Family Services would not comment on the fissure other than to say that the relationship had soured. But federal officials said the former grantee is the target of an audit after receiving $12 million a year in federal funds but operating at a $5.1-million deficit.

An interim operator, Colorado-based Community Development Institute Head Start, was brought in and had reopened the Head Start sites in Pasadena, Altadena and Glendale by mid-November.

Riverdale Head Start reopened on Nov. 17, but five weeks later it is closed once again.

Established in 1965 under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Head Start promotes school readiness among low-income families by providing free and low-cost preschool for children ages 3 to 5. A sister program, Early Head Start, serves low-income pregnant women, infants and toddlers.

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