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Program Overview

What is a Migrant Child?

A migrant child is defined as a child age 3-21 who has moved across a school district line with/or to join a migrant parent or guardian, or on their own, within the preceding 36 months, in order to obtain temporary or seasonal employment in qualifying agricultural or fishing work including agri-related businesses such as meat or vegetable processing.

History of the Migrant Education Program

Established in 1966 as part of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the Migrant Education Program became the vehicle for providing educational services to the children of the nation's migratory farm workers. For the first time in history, Congress and the nation recognized that these children had special educational needs as a result of their mobile lifestyles, the short spans of instruction they received in the classroom, the discontinuity of instruction between states, and their lack of "belonging" to any one particular school. In order to lessen the impact of these unique variables, the Migrant Education Program was tasked with the responsibility of ensuring that migrant students:

  • Receive appropriate educational and support services that address their special needs in a coordinated and efficient manner;
  • Receive services that help reduce the educational disruptions and other problems that result from repeated moves;
  • Overcome the challenges of mobility, cultural and language barriers, social isolation, and other factors associated with a migratory life, in order to succeed in school, and to successfully transition to postsecondary education or employment;
  • Are not penalized by disparities among the States in curriculum, graduation requirements, and State academic content and student academic achievement standards;
  • Receive full and appropriate opportunities to meet state content and student performance standards that all children are expected to meet; and
  • Benefit from state and local systemic reform.

State Funding

PA is the only state in the nation to have state funding for Migrant Education. The program started in 1959, predating the federal law. The law was enacted as a result of the growers' lobbying the general assembly out of their concern for young children's safety while their parents worked. This state funding supports school district reimbursement, summer programming, and childcare services for children 0-5 years of age.

Goals of Migrant Education Program and Services

The goal is to ensure that all migrant students achieve challenging academic standards and graduate with a high school diploma or complete a High School Equivalency Diploma (HSED), and upon graduation are prepared for responsible citizenship, further learning, and productive employment.