Migrant Education Program
Preliminary Guidance for Title I, Part C
Public Law 103-382

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Identification and Recruitment

Finding and enrolling eligible migrant children is a cornerstone of the MEP, and its importance cannot be overemphasized. Identification and recruitment of migrant children is critical because:

  • The children who are most in need of program services are often those who are the most difficult to find.

  • Many migrant children would not fully benefit from school, and in some cases, would not attend school at all, if the SEAs did not identify and recruit them into the MEP. (This is particularly true of the most mobile migrant children who may be more d ifficult to identify than those who have settled within a community.)

  • Children cannot receive MEP services without a record of eligibility.

It is crucial that local projects develop effective recruitment networks, raise awareness of and support for the program throughout the school district and the community, and ensure that migrant families find the schools accessible and welcoming.

The SEA is responsible for the identification and recruitment of all eligible migrant children in the state, including securing pertinent information to document the basis of a child's eligibility. Often SEAs or their operating agencies record eligibility data, which is obtained by interviewing the person responsible for the child, or (where the child moves on his or her own) the child him or herself, on a Certificate of Eligibility (COE). The SEA is responsible for implementing procedures to ensure the correctness of eligibility information.

This section addresses the ways in which SEAs and operating agencies can meet their responsibility to correctly identify and recruit all eligible migrant children residing in their state. This guidance is intended to provide broad, guiding pr inciples related to identification and recruitment (I & R), and is not intended to cover every particular situation a recruiter might encounter. Specific information on establishing a child's eligibility for the MEP, including information on determining if the qualifying work constitutes an important part of providing a living for the worker and his or her family, is found in the "Student Eligibility" section of this document.

An active statewide I&R process underlies the SEA's responsibilities to:

  • Determine the number of migrant children residing in the state (Section 1304(c)(7));

  • Determine areas of the state to be served (Sections 1304(b)(4) and (5));

  • Identify and address the special educational needs of migrant children, including preschool migrant children, through a comprehensive plan for needs assessment and service delivery (Section 1304(b)(1));

  • Serve migrant children according to the priority for services established in Section 1304(d) (consider their relative educational needs and educational interruption); and

  • Determine the types of services that are most responsive to the special educational needs of the state's migrant children to allow them to meet the same challenging state content and performance standards all children are expected to meet (Sections 13 04(b)(1) and (2)).

How to Identify Migrant Children

Each state is responsible for determining the number of migrant children residing within its boundaries. This can be a difficult task since the children who have the most need for services may not attend school. Furthermore, language and cultural barrie rs may make families hesitant to advocate for services on behalf of their children, particularly if they are not accustomed to looking for assistance from their child's school. Also, the locations where migrant families reside may change due to changes in agriculture or in response t o natural disasters affecting crop production. Therefore, it is important that states actively seek out migrant families and develop comprehensive recruitment plans that include both school- and community-based activities.

Examples of Strategies for Identifying Migratory Children

  • Identify and map the locations of agricultural and commercial fishing areas. The U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Labor, and Commerce, and the State Office of Employment Security, can assist in many cases. Regional and local MEP staff may wish to co ntact individual growers and other agricultural and fishing employers.

  • Obtain and maintain current information on the State's agricultural and fishing activities, and determine for each (1) areas of the State in which concentrations of migratory labor exist; and (2) peak employment periods. Ensure that recruitment staff are deployed in areas where concentrations of migrants are likely to reside.

  • Coordinate with officials who administer the Women, Infants and Children (WIC), Migrant Health, Migrant Labor, Migrant Headstart, Community Service Block Grant programs, and other programs about the locations of migrant workers and families whom those programs serve. In some locations recruiters canvas local churches, ESL classes, farmworker unions, legal aid agencies, and local businesses like laundromats, shopping malls, grocery stores, movie theaters, and restaurants to find migrant families.

  • Locate and maintain current lists of migrant housing in each area of the State. State and Federal Departments of Health (or Health and Human Services) and Labor may have lists of migrant camps.

  • Evaluate periodically the effectiveness of the State's identification efforts, and revise procedures as necessary.

Once the SEA has successfully used methods such as these to identify migrant children residing in the state, it might be able, in succeeding years, merely to update its information on the location of migrant children. It could do so, for example, through periodic spot-checks for changes in agricultural or fishing activities, housing patterns, or non-MEP program participation.

Primary Responsibilities of an Interviewer/Recruiter

The recruiter's primary responsibilities are to: (1) obtain and interpret information provided by parents, guardians, and others; and (2) record, accurately and clearly, information that establishes a child to be a migrant child under the statutory defin ition in Section 1309(2), and the regulatory definitions in 34 CFR 200.40. In all cases, the recruiter, rather than the individual interviewed, determines the child's eligibility on the basis of statutory and regulatory definitions and SEA policies. Because the SEA is ultimatel y responsible for all MEP eligibility determinations, the SEA, in conjunction with the LEA, should take care that the interviewer is knowledgeable about the statutory and regulatory requirements for eligibility and that quality control procedures are adeq uate to ensure that the student's eligibility cannot be questioned (quality control is discussed in the eligibility section). Any time an interviewer has questions about a child's eligibility for the MEP, the situation should be described in the comm ent section of the COE and referred to a higher-level official (e.g., immediate supervisor) within the state.

Examples of Knowledge Recruiters Need to be Effective

  • Basic MEP eligibility requirements;
  • Local agricultural and fishing production and processing sites;
  • Languages spoken by migratory workers;
  • Cycles of seasonal employment and temporary employment;
  • Local growers and fishing companies;
  • Local roads and locations of places where migrants typically live;
  • MEP services offered by the local operating agency;
  • The workings of the local school system; and
  • Other agencies that can provide services to migratory workers and their families, such as Migrant Health, Migrant Labor, WIC, and Migrant Headstart.

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Last Modified: 05/15/2009