Migrant Education


Migrant workers seek temporary or seasonal jobs in agriculture, fishing, or related work including food processing. They follow the growing seasons across the country and are largely responsible for the cultivation and harvest of fruits, vegetables and many other food products. Many migrant workers have an average annual income below the national poverty level.

The migrant population is a diverse ethnic group. Nationally, Hispanics make up the largest group, with Afro-Americans, Caucasians, Native Americans, and Asians completing the overall population. Each part of the country has its own racial and ethnic composition, such as Russian in the Northeast, Haitian and Puerto Rican on the East coast, and Indo-Chinese in the Pacific and Gulf coastal states. Mexican Americans follow migrant streams across the country. However, the tide is changing and the population is becoming more diversified.

What makes a child eligible for
the Migrant Education Program?

To qualify for the program, a migrant child must have moved within the past three years across state or school district lines with a migrant parent or guardian. To enable the child, the child's guardian, or a member of the child's immediate family to be eligible for services, the move must be to obtain temporary or seasonal employment in an agricultural or fishing activity. The child may be in any grade, between preschool and grade 12, or 3-21 years of age.

There are two types of migrant children, "current" and "former." A current migrant child is one who within a year's time moves from one state or district to another, with his or her family, to find agricultural or fishing work. A former migrant child has not made a qualifying move within a year's time. He or she remains eligible for two more years or for a total of three years after his or her family's last qualifying move.

Why give special help to migrant children?

Most school programs (including those supported by Title I) are set up on a nine-month academic year. However, when migrant children move with their families, their education, as well as their lives, are interrupted, often many times a year. They may have limited English skills and/or little experience with success at school. They often come from families with inadequate living space and low incomes. Poor nutrition, housing and unsanitary conditions may cause a high incidence of health problems. These problems, combined with irregular attendance, often lead to overall frustration and low-academic performance causing many children to drop out in their early teens. A large number of children under these circumstances do not finish school. Therefore, the children often cannot find adequate work to meet their needs.

However, these children can enjoy school and overcome their difficulties through the Migrant Education Program. They can obtain an education and develop the necessary skills for the future. Furthermore, they can develop confidence and self esteem.


Migrant Education is a national program that annually provides supplemental educational and supportive services to more than 800,000 eligible migrant children. The services provided assist them in overcoming the educational disruptions and disadvantages they face. The Migrant Education Program emerged from Title I of Public Law 89-10 passed in 1965 to assist all disadvantaged children. The program was established separately from Title I in 1966 to satisfy the particular needs of all migrant children. The law was reauthorized in 1981 for the Title I Program and again in 1988 under Public Law 100-297.

Administration of the
Migrant Education Program

The U.S. Department of Education allocates funds to the individual states based on each state's identified migrant population. The Nebraska Department of Education is responsible for the distribution of funds to the individual schools where migrants reside, and approving and supervising the projects and services provided by those districts. All the states work together to assure continuity, coordination and consistency. Local programs may vary according to population needs and resources.


During the regular school year, Migrant Education sites with large numbers of migrant children work with the regular school program to supplement education. During the summer, there are programs in schools to teach the children when regular classes are not in operation. There are Migrant Education sites in all parts of Nebraska.

There are also programs offered in many places to help secondary students receive either their diploma or GED, whichever is applicable.


Each site provides services that are appropriate to the particular needs of the population. Each place is different; however, the services listed below are some that may be provided:
Bilingual and English as a Second Language instruction for those children who speak little or no English.
Supplemental health services, such as medical, dental, and nutritional services.
Preschool programs designed to prepare migrant children for a successful school experience.
Special teachers that work with students individually or in small groups to meet their educational needs.
Intercultural education that develops skills of cultural appreciation, understanding and conflict resolution.
Other supplemental programs during the school year.
Summer school programs to supplement the regular school instruction.
Graduation and GED programs.