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The Vermont Migrant Education Program provides educational support services to eligible children and youth who relocate independently or with their families in order to obtain seasonal or temporary employment in agriculture.

These free services can include free books, tutoring, homework support, English as a Second Language (ESL) support, summer programs and/or referrals to local resources. A child/youth is eligible up until their 22nd birthday or until they obtain their high school diploma or its equivalent.

All staff are bilingual and the program provides a bridge connecting farm workers to various educational, community and health services. Eligible farm workers or children of farm workers may receive educational resources.

Eligibility

According to the law, a child is a Migratory Child and eligible for migrant education services if all of the following conditions are met:

  • Age: The child is younger than age 22.
  • School Completion: The child is eligible for a free public education under state law and does not have a diploma or equivalent.
  • Move: The child moved on his or her own as a migratory agricultural worker/fisher OR the child moved with or to join/precede a parent, spouse, or guardian who is a migratory agricultural worker/fisher, AND The move was from one school district to another, AND The move was a change from one residence to another residence, AND The move was due to economic necessity, AND The move occurred within the past 36 months.
  • Purpose of Move: One purpose of the worker's move was to seek or obtain qualifying work.
  • Qualifying Work: The employment is seasonal or temporary AND the work is agricultural or fishing.

In Vermont, migrant families who qualify for the Migrant Education Program (MEP) under federal guidelines work in such agricultural-related fields as: dairy farming, fruit orchards, vegetable fields, food processing plants, nurseries and logging.

Identification & Recruitment

Recruitment in Vermont is challenging because migrant families are moving into one of the most rural areas of the nation. In order to successfully accomplish our mission - to find every migrant child in the state and enroll them in the program - VMEP relies rely heavily on the cooperation and support from other parties. Consequently, one of the most important aspects of recruitment for VMEP is building strong relationships throughout Vermont so that individuals and agencies make active referrals to the program.

Aside from building program recognition, the recruiter's three primary roles are to locate, interview and enroll eligible families. The client population is by nature transient and not highly visible, so recruiters need a certain amount of persistence to get the job done.

Recruitment staff are the “face of the program” because they are often the very first staff members to visit migrant families. Recruiters must be responsive to a wide variety of conditions; some visits may require no action while others may call for an immediate referral to other staff or agencies. Not only is it challenging to locate families, but with Vermont's changing farm labor population there are also cultural and language barriers. All recruitment staff members are bilingual, speaking English and Spanish languages.

Identifying Families

Each recruitment specialist is assigned to a specific region of the state and responsible for locating families, determining eligibility status, and submitting necessary documentation prior to student enrollment in the program.

Local schools are the primary source of referrals to the Vermont Migrant Education Program, and prior to each new school year and throughout October, recruiters spend their time visiting every school in their assigned region.

Enrollment

When a new student enrolls in a new school we ask that the "Agricultural Employment Survey" (available in both English and Spanish) be distributed along with the school's required enrollment forms. Completed by the family, this form is returned to the school and then forwarded to the Identification and Recruitment Office for review. This information helps identify who is moving into and around the state, and working in agriculture. If the family checks off that they are working in the agricultural field, it is our cue to contact the family and see if they are eligible for our educational services.

During early spring and through the summer, many migrant families and workers move on to new jobs. This is when recruiters make farm visits which helps lead them to new students. Not only is it important for recruiters to know their regions "like the back of their hand," but to meet and befriend the farming community is equally important. These relationships bring some of the most consistent and straightforward referrals. When a farmer knows about the Vermont Migrant Education Program and informs a recruiter it is a sure sign that outreach efforts are working.

Recruiters also visit social service agencies. The Farmworkers Program, Women Infants Children (WIC), Economic Services Division (formerly PATH) offices, Central Vermont Community Action Councils (CVCAC) and Adult Basic Education Agencies are all on the list of agencies the recruiters regularly visit. There is also an entire network of drop-in centers, food pantries, grain/feed dealers, laundromats, general stores and other public locations where recruiters post informational ads with a local number to call for assistance.

VMEP Agricultural Activities

Any activity directly related to the production or processing of crops, dairy products, poultry or livestock for initial commercial sale or personal subsistence qualifies. Any activity directly related to the cultivation or harvesting of trees, or any activity directly related to fish farms is considered a qualifying activity.

Qualifying activities

  • Production - Crops: Vegetables, berries/fruit, grain crops, hay and orchard work; soil preparation, planting, potting, cultivating, pruning, thinning, training, weeding, watering, fertilizing, spraying, picking, gathering, sorting, grading, harvesting, etc.
  • Production - Livestock and Dairy Products: Herding, handling, feeding, watering; actively caring for, branding, tagging, assisting in birthing and raising, milking, cleaning, etc.
  • Processing - Crops and Livestock: Cooking, baking, curing, heating, drying, mixing, grinding, churning, separating, extracting, slaughtering, cutting, fermenting, distilling, eviscerating, preserving, dehydrating, freezing, chilling, packaging, canning, jarring or otherwise enclosing food in a container – must be before initial commercial sale and not part of second-stage processing
  • Cultivation or Harvesting of Trees: Soil preparation, planting, tending, pruning, piling slash, felling, cutting, etc.

Activities which DO NOT qualify

  • Caring for recreational horses or pets
  • Transporting (shipping) agricultural products
  • Selling agricultural products
  • Seasonal firefighting
  • Landscaping
  • Managing a farm or processing plant
  • Repairing or maintaining farm machinery or processing equipment
  • Mechanic work
  • Accounting, clerical, or bookkeeping services
  • Childcare for farm workers
  • Restaurant work
  • Second-stage processing (ice cream plant)
  • Mill work or transporting of logs

Services & Applications

VMEP is a literacy program. When recruiters visit families or individuals for the first time, they supply students with age-appropriate reading materials, dictionaries, maps, pencils, notebooks, crayons, etc.

Recruiters maintain contact information for other services in the local area so that as specialists in their field, they may provide sound referrals to other agencies which may benefit the family or individual.

Program Details

  • If the family/individual is found to meet all program requirements, they are enrolled and remain “on program” for 3 years.
  • Should the family/student move again during this time, they are re-enrolled for another 3 years each time they move for a different qualifying job in agriculture.
  • If the family stays in one place and terminates the migrant agricultural labor force, at the end of the initial 3-year enrollment period, the family’s eligibility will end and VMEP's work is complete.
  • All services provided by the Vermont Migrant Education Program are FREE and there are no income guidelines.

Once the recruiter submits eligibility forms to the Vermont Agency of Education and all the paperwork goes through, the recruiter's job is done until the family or individual moves again. From this point onward, the Agency of Education process begins and provides any needed supplemental educational services. Just as the recruiters have individual regional areas, the Department of Education has regional areas depicting Migrant Education teacher regions.

Services

  • Each student is assessed individually by a local Migrant Education educator to determine what services are needed. Most often, this is the educator who provides the supplemental educational services.
  • Services range from in-school help during regular classes to at-home private tutoring sessions, summer educational programming and English Language lessons.
  • Supplemental services are formulated to meet the individual’s educational needs.
  • It possible that the student or family needs/desires no extra educational services at the time they are determined eligible for the Vermont Migrant Education Program.
  • At any time during the eligibility period, the Department of Education may be contacted to reassess the individual’s educational situation.

How can you help?

If you know of a family/individual who may qualify for our program there are several ways in which you may refer them to us:

  • Download and complete the referral form. Either mail it to the address on the form OR contact our toll-free number, 1-866-860-1382 ext. 208, and give your referral to the State Recruitment Office.
  • Offer this family or individual an "Agricultural Employment Survey" (available in both English and Spanish) website.* When completed, either you or the family may mail the form to the address on top of the form.

When a referral or an "Agricultural Employment Survey" is received, a recruitment specialist assigned to the geographic region of the state contacts the family to see if the children/individual is/are eligible and, if so, enrolls them in the program.

About VMEP

Children of migrant workers and adolescents who are working independently are among the neediest and least visible of Vermont’s population groups. Because of their transience and isolation, it is easy for these students to fall out of step academically and socially.

The percentage of migrant students leaving school before graduation has historically been among the highest single minority group. Studies show that 50% of migrant children have been retained in school by the 2nd grade and 50% of all children held back in school do not graduate. If a child is held back for a second time, 90-95% will never graduate. Therefore, 50% of migrant students are already deemed to never graduate high school by the second grade. (Source: ESCORT, the migrant consulting service for the nation.)

Role and Logistics

The Vermont Agency of Education - in conjunction with UVM Extension and local supervisory unions - serves these children through the federally funded Title I Migrant Education Program. The primary goal of the Migrant Education Program is to locate all migrant children and families in the country and provide supplemental educational services to those who are either struggling academically or socially in their school environment, or provide educational services to those who may currently not be attending school at all.

The federal Migrant Education Program was initially created as part of Lyndon Johnson’s war on poverty in the 1960’s. Currently running strong across our entire nation, Migrant Education Programs serve hundreds of thousands of migrant students each year.

In the state of Vermont, the MEP is run by the Vermont Agency of Education and provides the supplemental educational services once the students are identified and “on program.” However, in its efforts to identify all migratory children in the state, it has contracted with University of Vermont Extension as the source for all program identification and recruitment outreach. The process of recruitment in Vermont provides the foundation upon which our services are built. UVM Extension MEP recruitment staff work closely with the Vermont Agency of Education, supervisory unions, and local schools, teachers, parents, community service agencies, the UVM Extension network and, of course, the agricultural community.

Volunteering and AmericorpsVista

Brochures

Confidential Educational Services for Youth
In English (PDF) | En español (PDF)

Services for Families
In English (PDF) | En español (PDF)

Forms

Agricultural Employment Survey
In English (PDF) | En español (PDF)

Referral
In English (PDF)

 

For Schools

Strategies, Opportunities & Services for Out-of-School Youth (SOSOSY) consortium