WASHINGTON, D.C. — A $1.1 million federal grant will expand childcare and early childhood education services for children of farmworkers in the Coachella Valley.

Congressman Raul Ruiz, D-Palm Desert, and the Riverside County Office of Education (RCOE) announced the grant award on Thursday..

The grant will help the RCOE’s Migrant Head Start Program serve an additional 50 children zero to four years old served by our local migrant education program.

“Children of hard working migrant farm workers in our communities are underserved, which puts them at a disadvantage to live a healthy life and to get out of poverty,” Dr. Ruiz said in a prepared statement. “I helped Riverside County Office of Education’s Migrant Head Start Program get a $1.1 million federal grant to expand childcare and early childhood education services to give children of struggling families an opportunity to have the long-term benefits of living productive, happy, and healthy lives. My parents were farm workers, and I know firsthand the barriers they face and the incredible benefit to our communities the Migrant Head Start Program provides.”

Riverside County Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Judy D. White said, also in a prepared statement, “This new funding will open the door to programs and services for families that are already working hard to make ends meet, but whose options to obtain childcare and early childhood education options in this region are limited due to affordability and access. The un-met need for these services in the Riverside/Imperial county areas is extremely high, and we are excited to expand this already successful program as the best way to immediately shape the upward trajectory of more of our youngest students.”

Rosalba Aquino, whose youngest son, Edwin, is currently on the Head Start Program’s waitlist, said, “The funds for this new program will benefit us greatly because the children will be learning more rapidly. For my daughter [currently in a licensed family child care provider setting], I see her talk and move forward in learning more quickly as she has been taught her letters, how to paint, how to play, and how to be with other kids. Also, this helps us, because as parents, we are already paying for childcare for our son which is very difficult for our budget. Also, we know that our students are receiving good meals along with great care and learning opportunities. This program isn’t just a benefit for the children, it is also a benefit for the parents.”

The Riverside County Office of Education’s Migrant Head Start Program, which connects migrant and seasonal farmworker families with individualized education services to promote school readiness and affordable child care from licensed family child care providers.

Currently, the Migrant Head Start Program provides education and childcare to 879 local children, although many families remain on a waiting list due to high demand. The $1.1 million grant will expand these services to additional migrant and seasonal farm working parents with infants and toddlers.

Image Sources

  • Migrant children: Shutterstock