Sep 30, 2019
Head Start is known nationally, and internationally, for making early childhood development and education a reality for all families. Developed as part of the 1960’s War on Poverty, Head Start is an example of public policy enacted to increase opportunity and create a more equitable environment for underserved communities. The Head Start model was organized to provide resources and services around the school calendar, an approach that works for most but not all of our nation’s families. There was a gap in meeting the unique needs of migrant families, who travel from state to state to harvest our nation’s crops. The National Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Association was created specifically for farmworker families, the men and women whose expertise and labor are responsible for the produce in our stores and the bounty on our tables.
Like all parents, farmworkers need and want their children to have access to earl childhood resources and their ability to earn a living depends on it. They are served by dedicated community-based Migrant and Seasonal Head Start providers, 27 programs in 40 states. Many providers come from farmworker families themselves and are highly committed to serving children and families that may move 3 times per year. That includes transporting young children to centers starting as early as 4:30am.
Cleofas Rodriguez Jr, executive director of The Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Association, talks to Power Station about the foresight of President Johnson in creating Head Start, the exceptional skills and tenacity of farmworkers, the critical relationship between agribusiness and these families, and the impacts of the President’s policies and rhetoric on farmworker children. This is a story we should all know.