Waters seeks probe into county Head Start programs
Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Los Angeles, called Tuesday for a federal investigation into the Los Angeles County Office of Education's handling of Head Start programs in Los Angeles.
"We're here today because Head Start in this county is being threatened time and time again in so many ways," Waters said of the federal program that promotes school readiness for underprivileged children up to 5 years old.
Waters said her action was prompted by news that Kedren Community Mental Health Centers relinquished its Head Start contract in January effective June 30, which would mark the fourth closure of Head Start centers serving the South Los Angeles area since 2001.
Waters said the county Office of Education, which has a responsibility for the support of all the delegate agencies, is "out of control."
The L.A. County Office of Education released a statement in response, saying that if there is an investigation, it plans to fully cooperate.
"We are confident we have followed all necessary steps to protect the quality and integrity of the Head Start program we oversee," the statement said.
According to the County Office of Education, it accepted a letter of separation from Kedren Community Mental Health Centers following suspected fraud and child safety issues.
"We have identified four experienced organizations that will assume operations and maintain Head Start services after June 30 in Kedren's former service area," the county statement said.
Waters said her experience in Head Start prompted her to want to become an elected official.
"I believe that the Head Start program is one of the most important programs, if not the most important program, that came out of the War on Poverty," Waters said.