Migrant workers return home to their work camp after a day in the field. Alex Granados/EducationNC
Share this story
North Carolina’s Migrant Education Program can provide a slew of academic and supportive services to young workers or children whose families have recently migrated to the state to work in agriculture and fishing.
These programs help migratory students overcome “the obstacles created by frequent moves, educational disruption, cultural and language differences, and health-related problems.”
Every year, thousands of men, women, and children travel to North Carolina in search of work in agriculture or fishing. Many are school-aged children who have opted to work for a season — or year-round — or families with school-aged children.
When harvest and fishing seasons wrap up, they might move on to other states. But while they are living in North Carolina, these children may be eligible to receive a wide range of academic and social support services through the Migrant Education Program (MEP).
What is the Migrant Education Program? And who is eligible?
The federally funded program, created as part of Title 1 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) in 1965, helps migratory students “meet high academic challenges by overcoming the obstacles created by frequent moves, educational disruption, cultural and language differences, and health-related problems,” according to the state Department of Public Instruction’s (DPI) website.
These services are supplemental to any state, local, or other federal funds that are being provided to students in their school district.
“The whole purpose of a migrant program is to provide supplemental services to those students. So they would have access to Title 1 funding or whatever funds are there,” Dr. LaTricia Townsend, director of federal program monitoring and support at DPI, said. “It is the cherry on the top. It is not your baseline. It is what you would get in addition to — it’s a layer of support that you’re getting.”
The program does not guarantee services to all students who have moved to North Carolina from another state or country. Rather, eligible students must meet the following criteria:
They are ages 3-21.They have not yet received a high school diploma or its equivalent.They have moved into a school district within the last 36 months.Either their parents, guardians, spouses, or themselves must have moved due to economic necessity and have worked in agricultural production or fishing within the last 36 months.
On average, North Carolina has 4,800 to 5,100 students enrolled in a MEP, said Dr. Heriberto Corral, DPI’s MEP data and parent engagement coordinator.
What services can students receive?
Services within a program can be split into two fields: instructional services and su …