Federal funding terminated for SMILE Head Start

Mary Cobb, director of Head Start for SMILE is pictured following a March 27, 2017, board meeting in St. Martinville, Louisiana. (Photo: Claire Taylor, The Advertiser)

Update:  Smile CEO Dr. Christopher Williams said they’re in the appeal process, and once more information is available, they’ll pass it along.

(The Daily Advertiser) – The Head Start early childhood education program operated by the SMILE Community Action Agency is no longer eligible to receive federal funding.

The Daily Advertiser has learned the federal agency that oversees Head Start this week sent a letter to the St. Martin Iberia Lafayette CAA terminating its status as a Head Start grantee.

Most of SMILE’s funding, more than $17 million a year, comes from the federal government for Head Start and Early Head Start operations.

The SMILE Head Start program, managed by Director Mary Cobb, failed to report two instances of alleged child abuse to proper authorities and agencies. The SMILE board found out about them 10 months after they occurred.

A review by the Office of Head Start in January found three deficiencies had occurred. The federal agency gave SMILE Head Start 30 days, until April 9, to correct the problems.

A follow-up by the Regional Office of Head Start found four additional instances of alleged child abuse, such as teachers pinching and scratching children and leaving one child asleep and unattended, in the interim.

The federal office determined, based on the occurrence of additional abuse and neglect reports, that SMILE did not correct the deficiency, the July 11 Notice of Termination states.

This is a developing story The Daily Advertiser is following. Check back for more details today.

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