Pallone Urges Head Start to Pay Doctor's Bills for Children Affected by Mold Contamination At Union Beach Head Start Center

Feb 11, 2004

Mr. Ermon Jones

Chairman

C/O ICCC Monmouth County Head Start

Dear Mr. Jones:

I have recently been contacted by my constituents concerning the mold contamination at the Union Beach Head Start Center. Several concerns have arisen as this issue persists.

As you are aware, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration on Children and Families designed the Head Start Program with the purpose of promoting school readiness by enhancing the social and cognitive development of low-income children as well as providing other necessary services to the families.

Unfortunately, the Union Beach Head Start facility was forced to close as a result of mold contamination. In the interim, only nineteen children have been relocated to the Long Branch Head Start facility. It is essential to our community that all of these children continue with the education they so deserve during the closure in Union Beach.

Furthermore, it has come to my attention that the transport of these children, ages three and four years old, to Long Branch takes approximately two hours. This is an abhorrent amount of time for children so young to have to endure every day. My constituents have asked that the Head Start Program be temporarily moved to a closer proximity to Union Beach in order to ensure that these children are receiving the services they need.

It has also come to my attention that a mold problem may have existed for almost a year, and possibly another mold problem existed almost seven years ago in the same building. Given these concerns, the families are asking for an impartial and independent contractor to conduct the final testing of the facility in order to ensure proper and efficient cleanup of the contamination.

Many families are also concerned about health costs, which may be incurred as a result of the contamination. Although Head Start is taking steps to cover the cost of health coverage to those without it, due to the current circumstances and the seriousness of this problem, I ask that you consider assisting all families, regardless of whether or not they have coverage. If you find that this additional cost is too exorbitant, I am willing to contact the Administration for Children and Families Regional Office in New York to seek additional funding.

I ask that in keeping with all applicable rules and regulations, you extend every consideration to my constituents whom are dealing with this issue. As you can imagine, this has been a very difficult time for the families involved.

I look forward to your expeditious reply.

With best regards, I am

Sincerely,

FRANK PALLONE, JR.

Member of Congress