JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A interim company is being brought in to manage Jacksonville's Head Start centers following health and safety issues discovered by the Florida Department of Children and Families.
The Jacksonville Urban League currently runs the 24 centers with more than 350 employees offering preschool programs for 2,000 children.
Over the weekend the federal government jumped in after concerns about child safety and welfare surfaced.
DCF spokesman John Harrell said investigators found numerous problems at the centers both inspection and complaint driven.
Harrell pointed out instances where a child was dropped off a bus without a parent or guardian in place at the bus stop. In another case a 3 year-old was left on a bus all day without supervision. Investigators concluded the child might have died had it been during the summer.
In another instance he said a 4-year-old child climbed a fence and was gone two hours before being found.
According to Harrell, the health and safety issues that he says become more frequent in the past two years were communicated to National Head Start which took action.
"We were nicked on safety and welfare. We had some miscues, some missteps by employees," said Jacksonville Urban League President Richand Danford.
Tuesday night Head Start employees are being offered the chance to reapply for their jobs. The plan is to have the centers open Wednesday morning.
Outside managers could be in charge for the next thirty days or longer.
The Jacksonville Urban League has operated Head Start programs for the past 17 years.
First Coast News