July 15, 2013
Head Start program offered for children of seasonal migrant workers
Yerington, NV – When there is nowhere else to take them, migrant farm workers will often dig a waist-deep hole near a field to put small children in while they work.
However, a program now in its third year in Yerington gives those migrant workers not just a place to take their children, but one to help prepare them for when they are old enough to begin school.
Teaching & Mentoring Communities has, for the third consecutive year, brought its Seasonal Migrant Head Start Program to Yerington, working with toddlers and pre-kindergarten children of migrant agricultural workers.
TMC, based in Laredo, Tex., serves communities in eight states, with the mission of helping children and their families by creating opportunities for advancement through education, training and other resources.
Debbie Kaufman, a Child Development Advocate with TMC, said this summer’s program will run through Sept. 7. TMC is currently licensed for 23 students for the classes, held at the Catholic Center. Program Manager Oscar Jimenez said TMC is currently recruiting new students.
Kaufman said the curriculum, which mirrors the objectives of Head Start and Early Head Start, is based on a mission of school readiness. Students work on reading, writing, recognizing their name and words, and art, math and science. The students also have access to computers, where they can create things and play learning games.
Subjects are taught in Spanish and English.
“In a very short period of time, we really do a lot,” said Family Advocate Virginia Moreno.
All students receive a free breakfast and lunch and a snack each day. The program includes free transportation to school in a bus owned by TMC.
In her second year in Yerington, Moreno said the program is not just for Hispanics, but for everybody who works in agriculture, including irrigation, preparing soil, transport or anything related to crops, and meets TMC’s requirements.
Moreno, who grew up in a migrant family, started as a 12-year-old working in the fields.
She said the program also serves parents, offering them parenting skills, education, health, life skills needs, and helping them learn English.
Each of the teachers are from Texas, and while they are not certified teachers, they must have either an Associate’s Degree in childhood education, or a Bachelor’s Degree.
All staff is also trained in CPR and First Aid.
“The teachers get observed to make sure we’re doing things with the latest knowledge of what is beneficial for children,” Moreno said. “With education across the board, standards are getting higher.”