LAFAYETTE, La. - SMILE Community Action Agency has been granted an appeal and will now apply for a federal grant that CEO Craig A. Mathews hopes will rebuild the confidence of the community that it served.
According to Mathews, the Administration for Children and Families Dallas Regional Office visited the SMILE offices in Lafayette in 2017 and conducted an on-site review based upon several allegations of failure to report child abuse and neglect.
During the course of that review, SMILE was told to create a corrective action plan and given 30 days to correct the issues. More allegations were made during that window, and that's why the feds terminated SMILE's Head Start grant.
According to reporting by our media partners at The Advocate, the ruling in the case notes that SMILE wasn't give time to address the allegations of child abuse and neglect, and that's why the agency's appeal was granted.
Mathews says the report clears SMILE.
"I believe that Smile suffered a grave injustice," stated Mathews. "We were accused of doing some things that according to the DAB ruling that was handed down that we've been cleared off."
"The trial cleared us of all of those charges, but the damage has been done," said Mathews. "People lost their jobs, a community suffered because of the distrust that was instilled in people's confidence in this agency to do a decent job."