SMILE lets go of a dozen employees; C.E.O. responds after roller-coaster summer for agency


LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) –  The SMILE Community Action Agency has laid off a dozen employees.

This comes after the agency lost federal funding for their Head Start and Early Head Start programs earlier this summer, over it’s handling of alleged child abuse and neglect.

Chris Williams, C.E.O. of SMILE,  says that this was an administrative decision, to align their administrative costs with the new size of the agency.

“We are operating more efficiently, and just recently went through a layoff that will help us to operate within our budgetary confines,” said Williams.

He says that this move will allow the agency to zero-in on the other programs the agency provides.

“Since July the 28th, we have refocused our mission, in terms of operating as a community action agency, without the Early Head Start or Head Start Programs,” Williams said.

According to our partners at The Daily Advertiser, on July 11, the Federal Department of Health and Human Services notified SMILE it was terminating the agency’s Head Start and Early Head Start contract, because of its handling of alleged child abuse and neglect.

SMILE appealed that ruling, the same day its funding was suspended for 30 days.

The department has since appointed Community Development Institute, to take over Head Start and Early Head Start programs.

“We tweaked our operations, and we’ve put our self in a better position to service our clients with the 15 remaining programs that we have,” said Williams.

According to Williams, these layoffs came after the agency evaluated its operations and decided this was the best move to improve efficiency.

“SMILE Community Action Agency has been a part of early childhood education for decades, and we hopefully will be a part of that in the future.”

There is no anticipated start date at this time for the Head Start and Early Head Start programs, that are now operated by CDI.

Williams says that most of these students have had to find temporary schools to relocate too, but most of the teachers have still been retained, and are preparing for the school year to begin for them, when the appeal process is over.

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