Press Release: CAO Board Demonstrates that it has Repaired Damage Done by Prior Board Leadership – Community Action Organization of WNY

“The board is re-constituted as required by our bylaws and our regulatory agencies,” said Judge Hannah. “The agency is functioning at a high level and we are pleased to see its effective governance restored.”

Judge Hannah, who was elected to the CAO board in Nov. 2018, has been on City Court since 2006 and was named chief judge late last month. He also presided over the nation’s first Opiate Crisis Intervention Court. He served as an Erie County assistant district attorney and then moved to the city’s Corporation Counsel’s Office before becoming a judge.

Among other items of business at Monday’s meeting, a letter from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the federal authority that regulates Head Start and Early Head Start programs at the CAO, was entered into the record. It gave both early-education programs a clean bill of health following an inspection dated Feb. 6, 2019.

The report, from the HHS’s Administration for Children and Families, Office of Head Start in Washington, shows the CAO’s programs are not only operating fully and properly. It also affirms that past, routine issues faced by many similar programs nationwide, were corrected.

“Based on the information gathered during our review, we have closed the previously identified findings. Accordingly, no corrective action is required at this time,” said a letter about the review, signed by Dr. Deborah Bergeron, director at the federal Office of Head Start.  The letter notes that 2,183 children are enrolled in CAO Head Start programs and 535 children in Early Head Start.

“Despite some erroneous and biased reports to the contrary, fomented by the same former board members who tried to run our organization aground, the CAO is functioning at a high level, providing the key services our families in need seek from us,” said Hare.

The board also reviewed audited financial statements showing the CAO has an existing $500,000 line of credit taken out in 2013 and, according to the current year’s notes to the financial statements, has no outstanding balance. CAO owns an affordable housing project, St. Martin Village, and the property serves as security for the mortgage. The audit also found the CAO has managed and reduced significantly its pension obligation.

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