MIGRANT & SEASONAL HEAD START BACKGROUND:
Migrant and seasonal farmworkers work in various sectors of our nation’s agriculture industry – from harvesting to sorting to processing and everything in between. It is hard work and requires special skills. Most farmworker families earn less than $10,000/year and have no health benefits according to a study submitted to Congress in 2000 by the United States Department of Labor.
Migrant & Seasonal Head Start was a response to the needs of migrant farmworker families. In most states, local early childhood education resources are not available when migrants come into a community, especially for infants and toddlers. When resources are not available, parents have no choice but to take the children to the fields where they are exposed to pesticides, hazardous equipment, extreme heat and other health dangers.
MIGRANT & SEASONAL HEAD START IS A PROGRAM UNIQUE TO OTHERS:
Migrant & Seasonal Head Start programs are different from other Head Start programs. Our programs are designed to meet the unique challenges and opportunities faced by migrant children and seasonal farmworker children. Because of the nature of farm labor, children need full day services – often from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and often 6 days a week. In many states, MSHS programs operate from May to October, rather than the typical school year schedule, and of course, many of the families and children are on the move for much of the year and need services at different times, in different states and locations.
Operating in 39 states, MSHS programs strive to provide coordinated services to mobile families as they migrate from state to state. Programs work to ensure that academic and medical records are transferred with the families and children and when possible that children are placed in a MSHS Program after they move on. MSHS Programs partner with other social and health service organizations and with agencies throughout the country that serve children and families working in seasonal agriculture.
Migrant & Seasonal Head Start is an important resource for families and provides a critical service to the agricultural industry. Like all American families, farmworker families continue to work hard for one primary reason: to give their children a better life. However, while farmworkers work nearly round the clock during peak harvest seasons, many times they do not have a clean, safe place for their children so that children are often left in the care of other children, or worse, are taken to the fields. This is a situation that neither farmworkers nor agricultural growers want – having children in the fields is not safe and hinders work productivity. MSHS provides services for children of farmworkers, keeping them out of the fields and harm’s way.