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Early childhood programs for children of seasonal farm workers — November 2017

Question

Could you provide research on early childhood programs for children of seasonal farm workers?

Response

Following an established REL West research protocol, we conducted a search for research reports as well as descriptive study articles on early childhood programs for children of seasonal farm workers. The sources included ERIC and other federally funded databases and organizations, research institutions, academic research databases, and general Internet search engines (for details, please see the methods section at the end of this memo).

We have not evaluated the quality of references and the resources provided in this response. We offer them only for your information. Also, we searched for references through the most commonly used sources of research, but the list is not comprehensive and other relevant references and resources may exist.

Research References

Academy for Educational Development (AED). (2009). The invisible children of migrant and seasonal farmworkers in the United States: An examination of existing pre-k partnerships. Washington, DC: Author. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED519206.pdf

From the abstract: “The National Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Collaboration Office conducted this small scale study to begin to expand, document and disseminate migrant-specific early learning information and to develop a long-range strategy for addressing/increasing collaboration between MSHS and state Pre-Kindergarten programs serving or having the potential to serve, young children of migrant and seasonal farm workers. The project focused on obtaining additional information regarding the young migrant child's early learning characteristics and experiences and the status of collaboration between MSHS programs and state funded Pre-K programs. The Office is particularly interested in obtaining information on: (1) Ways to improve the coordination of collaborative relationships and activities between migrant and non-migrant Pre-K programs, in an effort to better align, to promote and to ensure school readiness for migrant children; (2) Identifying appropriate goals for a MSHS/Pre-K collaboration partnership; (3) Identifying ‘best practices’ occurring between MSHS and Pre-K programs; (4) Identifying the unique strengths, needs and collaboration opportunities among MSHS programs as a whole; and (5) Identifying the barriers within/among programs, in the larger community, and the political environment that impede meaningful collaboration and services to migrant and seasonal farm worker families and their children. To obtain this information, the National Migrant Head Start Collaboration Office engaged in four activities: (1) Conducted a review of the scientific and main stream literature regarding migrant farmworker families; (2) Conducted a survey of currently operating MSHS programs; (3) Held conversations with many Head Start State Collaboration Directors located in states where migrant farmworkers are employed; and (4) Reviewed Early Childhood Comprehensive System plans which were created by each state and posted on the internet. Although partnership activities and communication does occur among Pre-K providers in any given state, it is important to acknowledge that the success is limited. The results indicate that only half of MSHS programs have MOUs with Pre-K providers and that the MOUs are sporadic at best. One of the most important findings of the survey is that young migrant farmworker children are being referred to additional sources of childcare and early education services by MSHS programs. Inasmuch as children of migrant farmworkers experience extreme stressors that greatly impact their learning, Pre-K providers need to work together to ensure all early childhood care and education settings are ready to receive these children and provide them with high quality services that take into account their unique lifestyles and their cultural and linguistic diversity. Overwhelmingly, MSHS programs agreed that this need to educate and advocate for the young children of migrant farmworkers across early childhood settings is one of the major functions of the MSHS Collaboration Office.”

Cavanagh, S., Singh, A., & Levine, P. (2010). Improving the skills and credentials of migrant, seasonal and American Indian/Alaska Native Head Start teachers: Building from within. Washington, DC: Academy for Educational Development. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED520116.pdf

From the abstract: “For over four decades, the federal Head Start program has provided millions of young children from impoverished backgrounds with access to early childhood education and basic health services. By some important measures, Head Start has helped put children on the path to academic and economic success. Teachers in the Head Start program play a crucial role in this process, by laying the foundation for preschoolers’ future academic and social development. Recognizing this, policymakers and early childhood advocates have made improving the academic caliber of Head Start, and boosting the overall qualifications of the program’s teaching staff, a priority. Yet many teachers and teacher assistants working in Head Start’s migrant seasonal and American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) communities—among the nation’s most economically disadvantaged populations—face significant obstacles in pursuing college degrees and professional training. These obstacles include: (1) Lack of access to two- and four-year colleges in their rural and remote communities; (2) Difficulty transferring credits among those institutions; (3) Lack of year-round employment in teaching, where programs are seasonal; (4) An unfamiliarity with college processes and cultures; and in some cases, and (5) Lack of proficiency in English, which can make enrolling and succeeding in credit-bearing college courses extremely difficult. These teachers are a crucial, and yet underutilized resource within the Head Start community. Migrant and seasonal and AIAN Head Start teachers bring distinct cultural and linguistic backgrounds and skills—as well as an abiding passion and commitment—to their work with young children and families. Many of these teachers grew up in the Head Start communities they now serve. This paper describes the hurdles that teachers in these communities face in pursuing degrees and credentials; puts the challenges they face in context; and offers promising practices and recommendations that can strengthen this teacher corps and build the Head Start program’s cultural and linguistic expertise. Individual sections contain footnotes.”

Fishman, M., & Wille, J. (2014). Head Start CARES for migrant and seasonal families: Adapting a preschool social-emotional curriculum (OPRE report 2014-43). Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED546645.pdf

From the abstract: “The early twenty-first century has seen increased attention to developing young children’s social-emotional skills and competencies in preschool programs, including Head Start—the largest federally funded early-childhood education program in the United States. At the same time, there has been greater recognition of the importance of adapting evidence-based programs to meet the needs of special populations such as the children and families of migrant and seasonal workers. The Head Start Classroom-based Approaches and Resources for Emotion and Social skill promotion (CARES) demonstration, which evaluated three strategies that were designed to improve the social-emotional development of children in Head Start classrooms, provided an opportunity to study the adaptation and implementation of an existing evidence-based, social-emotional curriculum for such a population. The curriculum, called Preschool PATHS (Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies), was offered through the Migrant and Seasonal Head Start (MSHS) program, which is operated across the country and is the subject of this report. The Head Start CARES demonstration was supported by the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation in the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and was conducted by MDRC, a nonprofit, nonpartisan education and social policy research organization, in collaboration with MEF Associates and several academic partners. This case study describes methods for delivering social-emotional programs in MSHS settings, as well as features inherent in MSHS centers and the characteristics of the children in MSHS programs, that can inform adaptations of other program models to these settings. In addition, the lessons from this study are relevant to the considerable debate about how best to balance the competing demands of fidelity to the core components of an evidence-based model with the need to adapt the model for special populations or special circumstances. Four classrooms from two MSHS grantees were involved in this case study. Both grantees enthusiastically participated in the project. The researchers collected information on program implementation from a variety of sources, including site visits and logs kept by teacher coaches and trainers (who were part of the program’s professional development component, described later), as well as interviews with program staff and parents. While the study does not test the impact of Preschool PATHS in the MSHS context—that is, the effect it has on children’s social-emotional outcomes—it provides a rich set of qualitative and quantitative information about the two grantees’ implementation experience. And, even though the sample is small and not representative of the broader MSHS grantee community, examining the experience of these two grantees is a first step in understanding how well such programs can be adapted to this context. The MSHS CARES experience suggests that adaptations can account for important cultural differences while staying true to the core principles and components of evidence-based programs.”

Other Resources

Mohan, A., & Walker, C. (2016). Migrant and seasonal Head Start participants, programs, families, and staff in 2014. Washington, DC: Center for Law and Social Policy. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED568167.pdf

From the abstract: “Migrant and Seasonal Head Start (MSHS) provides child care and other services to migrants to ensure that young children from birth to age 5 are not with their parents in the fields, where they can be exposed to pesticides, hazardous equipment, extreme heat, and other health dangers. MSHS provides services focused on the ‘whole child,’ including early education addressing cognitive, developmental, and socio-emotional needs; medical and dental screenings and referrals; nutritional services; parental involvement activities; referrals to social service providers for the entire family; and mental health services. MSHS programs serve children from birth to five years old. All Head Start programs are required to complete the Program Information Report (PIR) on an annual basis. This fact sheet uses information reported through the PIR to describe the children and families served in Migrant and Seasonal Head Start and the services provided to them during the 2013-2014 program year.”

Schmit, S. (2014). Migrant and seasonal Head Start participants, programs, families, and staff in 2013. Washington, DC: Center for Law and Social Policy. Retrieved from https://www.clasp.org/sites/default/files/public/resources-and-publications/publication-1/MHSH-PIR-2013-Fact-Sheet.pdf

From the abstract: “Migrant and Seasonal Head Start (MSHS) was created to respond to the needs of migrant farm worker families. MSHS provides child care services to migrants to ensure that young children are not with their parents in the fields, where they can be exposed to pesticides, hazardous equipment, extreme heat, and other health dangers. MSHS has served migrant children and families since 1969 and seasonal children and families since 1999. Just like Head Start and Early Head Start, MSHS provides services focused on the ‘whole child,’ including early education addressing cognitive, developmental, and socio-emotional needs; medical and dental screenings and referrals; nutritional services; parental involvement activities; referrals to social service providers for the entire family; and mental health services. MSHS programs serve children from birth to five years old. All Head Start programs are required to complete the Program Information Report (PIR) on an annual basis. This fact sheet uses information reported through the PIR to describe the children and families served in Migrant and Seasonal Head Start and the services provided to them during the 2012-2013 program year. In 2013, the MSHS program served 31,907 children ages 5 and younger and 175 pregnant women through 56 grantees/delegates nationwide.”

Additional Organizations to Consult

California Department of Education, Migrant Education Programs and Services – https://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/me/mt/programs.asp

From the website: “Migrant education supports two kinds of programs designed to strengthen the school, community, and family experiences of children and their families. Some programs are developed locally by migrant education regional offices in collaboration with the school districts that enroll migratory students. Other programs are administered statewide and are designed to meet specific needs of students, such as those related to the identification and recruitment of migrant families, parent involvement, and student leadership. Both types of programs are described below. Whatever program is developed with migrant education funds must be supplemental to other state and federal categorical funding. Currently, over 102,348 migrant students are eligible for services in 565 school districts throughout the state. Therefore, the Migrant Education Program (MEP) provides services to migrant students in half of all school districts in California.”

Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Collaboration Office –https://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/programs/article/migrant-seasonal-head-start-collaboration-office

From the website: “The Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Collaboration Office (MSHSCO) promotes high quality, direct service delivery through collaboration, coordination, and alignment of high-quality services for all MSHS grantees and delegate agencies. The MSHSCO serves a vital role in facilitating opportunities for and fostering new partnerships to build a sustainable, comprehensive early learning system for MSHS children, families, and communities. MSHS children and their families are represented in key policies in all 38 states where MSHS programs are located, including at national, state, and local levels. Policy areas include: school transitions; child care and early learning systems; professional development; and Regional Office priorities. Regional priorities include, but are not limited to: family and community partnerships; health, mental health, and oral health; and disabilities.”

Method

The following keywords and search strings were used to search the reference databases and other sources:

(“Seasonal farm workers” OR “migrant farm workers” OR “agricultural workers”) AND (“early childhood programs” OR “preschool” OR “child care” OR “early childhood education”)

Databases and Resources

We searched ERIC for relevant resources. ERIC is a free online library of over 1.6 million citations of education research sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences. Additionally, we searched Google Scholar and PsychInfo.

Reference Search and Selection Criteria

When we were searching and reviewing resources, we considered the following criteria:

  • Date of the Publication: References and resources published for the last 15 years, from 2002 to present, were included in the search and review.
  • Search Priorities of Reference Sources: Search priority is given to study reports, briefs, and other documents that are published and/or reviewed by IES and other federal or federally funded organizations and academic databases, including ERIC, EBSCO databases, JSTOR database, PsychInfo, PsychArticle, and Google Scholar.
  • Methodology: Following methodological priorities/considerations were given in the review and selection of the references: (a) study types – randomized controlled trials, quasi-experiments, surveys, descriptive data analyses, literature reviews, policy briefs, etc., generally in this order; (b) target population, samples (representativeness of the target population, sample size, volunteered or randomly selected, etc.), study duration, etc.; and (c) limitations, generalizability of the findings and conclusions, etc.

This memorandum is one in a series of quick-turnaround responses to specific questions posed by educational stakeholders in the West Region (Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah), which is served by the Regional Educational Laboratory West at WestEd. This memorandum was prepared by REL West under a contract with the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES), Contract ED-IES-17-C-00014524, administered by WestEd. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of IES or the U.S. Department of Education nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.