Settlement reached with St. Landry Parish Head Start nonprofit over grants

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A settlement was reached Tuesday with a St. Landry Parish Head Start administrator over its use of federal grants.

According to the court documents filed in the case, Child Development Council of Acadiana Inc. operated the Head Start program at 11 facilities in St. Landry Parish.

In 2010, the organization constructed a central administration building in Opelousas for $1.2 million using grant money, without the approval of the U.S. Department of Health and Humans Services’ Administration for Children and Families (ACF).

Because of the disputed use of the grant money, CDCAI’s contract was not renewed in 2015.

Instead, it was awarded to an interim grantee, the Community Development Institute Head Start (CDI).

In 2017, CDCAI began changing door locks at Head Start buildings in St. Landry Parish and demanded back rent for use of the buildings from CDI.

The U.S. Attorney filed a restraining order in September of 2017 against CDCAI for CDI to gain access to the buildings again.

As part of the settlement agreement, the CDCAI agreed to offset its interest in the Head Start properties to the ACF in exchange for CDCAI’s debt owed for the unapproved use of grant funds.

“Providing early education and child development services to the community is central to the Head Start and Early Head Start programs,” Joseph stated. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office is prepared to seek legal action to ensure that the Administration for Children and Families is able to meet its mission.”

The claims resolved by this settlement are allegations only and there has been no determination of liability.

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