3 Baltimore Head Start centers to close as city ushers in Federal early education pilot program

BALTIMORE - Two Baltimore Head Start centers and one Early Head Start center will close as of June 30, but city officials say it's actually a good thing.

ABC2 News was contacted by several "In Focus" viewers concerned about the closings. After digging into the issue, we learned that Baltimore is one of five cities in the nation chosen to be a part of an early childhood education pilot program.

As a result, St. Bernadine's and Morgan State University's Head Start centers will close, as will Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Early Head Start center.

But Baltimore Head Start Executive Director Shannon Burroughs-Campbell stressed that no children will lose services and the children served at those centers will be shifted to other programs.

Burroughs-Campbell added that being a part of the pilot will improve quality and extend learning hours. Still, parents at St. Bernadine's said losing their center will hurt the neighborhood. Head Start centers are federally funded pre-school and family development programs

"I have an older nephew, he just turned 22, and he went here," said Freska Uerby, whose son attends Head Start. "It's been here for a long time. The teachers are great, the staff is great and I feel like my child is really learning. He's learned a lot since last year."

The staff at the centers will lose their jobs, but can reapply for new positions at other Head Start centers.

"I feel awful for them," said Caria Gardner, another Head Start parent. "The staff is so passionate and dedicated to their jobs here, so I feel awful that they have to lose their jobs."

The Y of Central Maryland, St. Vincent de Paul, Catholic Charities and the Maryland Family Network are partnering with the city on the pilot program. Burroughs-Campbell said the city plans to release more information to the affected families next week.

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