“McKinley is shutting down during spring break and moving to Chrisman (Road),” she said. “We had actually been planning for about a year and a half to move. The last official day for McKinley is April 15.”
The McKinley center, at 2105-2123 Tracy Blvd., used to have all-day programs funded by both state and federal money for Head Start and Early Head Start children in the Tracy area. According to Head Start officials, however, the state ended funding for local programs in January. In response, directors cut the center’s hours to 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., rather than 6:45 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Head Start is a program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that provides comprehensive early-childhood education, health, nutrition and parent involvement services to low-income children and their families. Early Head Start serves the same children from birth to 3 years old.
Schiff-Ross said the reasons to close the McKinley center included the loss of money from the state and ongoing licensing problems.
“We had some concerns and issues with that specific site,” she said, without providing details. “I think the changes are hard for everybody. We’re striving to make things better, (but it’s) still hard.”
She said a committee that reviews activities at the facility has been working with McKinley parents to help them find other places to take their children.
She said Head Start is also looking for a more centrally located Tracy site to resolve transportation problems. The new facility, at 23950 Chrisman Road, is outside the city at the northeast corner of the Chrisman Road-11th Street intersection.
Although Schiff-Ross didn’t know exactly how big the Chrisman site is, she said it was smaller than the McKinley site.
She said the McKinley center was large enough to provide services for eight infants, 12 toddlers and 20 preschoolers. The Chrisman site, she said, has room for eight infants, eight toddlers and 20 preschoolers.
One mother, who would not give her name because she feared retaliation from Head Start officials, said that parents do not support the change.
“The parents are extremely, extremely unhappy,” the woman said. “How can they say they are providing for the community when you guys are putting these poor kids outside the city? It makes no sense to us and nobody (is) giving us an explanation.”
“They took away full-day (programs) and now they’re making it worse for parents who don’t have a car,” she said. “Parents feel there is nothing we can do. Everybody is taking it one day at a time, see what happens. Somebody needs to come out and speak up and be honest to us so we know where we stand. We’re playing a guessing game.”
The president of the parents committee at the McKinley center, Mariam Ebrahimi, called the Head Start program an excellent program that is beneficial to the Tracy parents and their children.
“These kids are being burned out of a really good program,” Ebrahimi said. “I give a shout out to Head Start, but as far as the location and the hours, that’s something that I don’t agree with.”
Schiff-Ross said that Head Start officials have met with McKinley parents and that more information about their search for facilities within Tracy will be forthcoming during the coming month.
• Contact Denise Ellen Rizzo at firstname.lastname@example.org or 830-4225.