Coordinators of a migrant education program in Yakima, Washington, are hoping that fruit growers will encourage their employees and their families to take part.
The Ready by Five Center has received federal funding to provide an education program called Migrant Education Even Start, which will provide classes simultaneously for parents and their children. The center’s coordinator hopes to recruit up to 45 families for the program.
Parents, most of whom are likely to have only an elementary education, will be offered classes in English as a Second Language, computer skills, and parenting, as well as literacy training. They will be able to study for the General Educational Development test.
Meanwhile, children under five will attend classes to prepare them for school, with the emphasis on English acquisition. Children between 5 and 8 can receive tutoring to help them perform better in school.
Families sign a contract to attend the program for two to three years. At least one parent must accompany children attending the program.
Elizabeth Mendoza, coordinator of community outreach for Ready by Five, said the program is intensive and requires a serious commitment of time. For example, adult ESL classes are held in the mornings, afternoons, or evenings four times a week. However, there is no charge to participants.
Mendoza said orchard or fruit packing house workers and their families are encouraged to join, and she believes employers would benefit from the further education of their workers.
“We would love growers to recommend families and take an interest in their progress,” she said. “This could be mutually beneficial for our target community and for the growers.”
Eligible families are those who have crossed school district boundaries within the last three years in order to work in agriculture.
The program received $379,000 in funding for the first year. It will run for three years, with the possibility of continuing for another two years.