Why Episcopal Children's Services says Northside Jacksonville Early Head Start isn't open

Why Episcopal Children?€™s Services says Northside Jacksonville Early Head Start isn?€™t open

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Jerri Covington says the Episcopal Children's Services Early Head Start preschool coming to Wingate Road on the Northside seems to have a new reason for being closed every time she pays it a visit.

Covington said she's been trying to enroll her daughter there since August.

"Well, my concern is:The specific location is to service the Northside, and we have at-risk low-income kids that are waiting to be serviced," she said.

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Action News Jax told you in May when the federally funded early learning programs were stripped away from Lutheran Services of Florida after federal inspections, were conducted.

Action News Jax learned the federal government found that, a review conducted within the past few months, LSF's program was found to have four deficiencies and five areas of noncompliance.

ECS would inherit those programs.

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Covington said she first tried to enroll her daughter at the ECS preschool on Wingate Road in August.

She said ECS staff initially said the preschool wasn't ready because of setbacks related to Hurricane Dorian and then mentioned pending inspections and licensing issues.

"I'm a single mom," said Covington. "I've kind of been waiting on it and waiting on it, and paying for child care. It's very expensive."

Action News Jax investigator Ryan Nelson went to ECS headquarters on Baymeadows to get answers. He was initially told no one was available to speak to him.

Later in the afternoon, he received the following statement from ECS CEO Connie Stophel.

"ECS is working with the City closely to meet their requirements in as timely a manner as possible," she said. "ECS did not anticipate any issues opening this program as it was previously operated by Lutheran Services Florida as a Head Start/Early Head Start location.
"However, the City of Jacksonville needs documentation that was not on file from the previous program in order for ECS to be properly permitted to open the program.
"We are in the final stages of obtaining the Certificate of Use.
"After we have the City's approved Zoning Certificate of Use, we will be able to get our child care license from the Department of Children and Families
"As soon as the City and Licensing give their approvals, we are ready to open.
"While we are waiting to open, program services have already begun.
"Our teachers are providing home-based services to all of our enrolled children and families, including educational support to parents and health services.
"The renovations are complete, the classrooms are set up, and the staff have been hired and trained to provide the same high-quality services ECS is known for."
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