Judge Reviews Lafayette’s Funding of SMILE Community Action Agency

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 SMILE Community Action Agency Caught With Their Pants Down

If you’re a concerned citizen, or simply someone tired of struggling with their own debt relief  issues and meager bank balance while money destined for our children and services gets needlessly squandered, you’re probably wondering about the outcome of the Lafayette funding reviews. SMILE appeared in court this week to ask for an injunction- but did they get it?

Lafayette Funding Reviews: The Deal so Far

Last week saw an investigative scandal break: “non-profit” SMILE Community Action Agency got caught with their pants down, spending $30 000 on a jaunt to Puerto Rico for 17 people. Decidedly NOT what that money is meant to go to. SMILE supposedly provides those who are down-and-out with emergency utilities/rent and also fund ‘Head Start’ early learning centers in three parishes- critical Lafayette funding that’s been seemingly squandered.

This isn’t the first complaint related to abuse and neglect levelled at them. Two inspections this year have also turned up enough problems of interest to warrant further investigation. Needless to say, we all wanted to know how much money they’re soaking up from the Lafayette Consolidated Government in light of these…indiscretions.

By the way, the answer was $17 million for Head Start and $7 million for other services. No small amount of debt relief there folks! Pity you couldn’t use it well.

What the Judge decided about the Lafayette Funding debacle

Employing what would appear to be fantastic common sense, a  federal judge has denied SMILE’s motion for a temporary restraining order. This was intended to thwart the loss of the 17 million dollars of federal funding earmarked for the Head Start education program.

Despire ardent pleas made in Alexandria this week, SMILE failed to convince District Chief Judge D. Drell of the need. SMILE Executive Director Chris Williams described himself as ‘disappointed in the ruling’, telling us the group will continue to press for an injunction. Their attorneys are currently reviewing the matter to see which route of appeal for the return of their Lafayette funding is likely to yield better results.

He hastened to assure us that Head Start will not be impacted by the issue, simply that service provider may change. As one of Judge Drell’s concerns was the state of the Head Start Facilities supposedly benefiting from the Lafayette funding, we wonder if maybe Chris shouldn’t have started caring so ardently for the program a little earlier. Drell described Head Start facilities as “giving the court considerable cause for concern regarding state licensing for SMILE” despite the organization’s insistence that the facilities have been properly inspected.

Whether, in light of this ruling, Chris Williams needs to get his act together and start applying for his own debt consolidation, opt to try appeal the emergency injunction or wait for regular appeal process remains to be seen. Hopefully SMILE will get it’s act together, stop squandering these critical funds and channel them where they are needed, at any rate.

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