What is the Migrant Education Program?
The Migrant Education Program was established in 1966 as Title I, Part C of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The main goal of the MEP was to ensure that migratory children and families would have access to and benefit from the same academic and educational opportunities as children who do not live such highly mobile lifestyles. The mission and purpose of the Migrant Education Program is to serve the educational needs of the children of migratory agricultural workers who experience negative consequences due to a highly mobile lifestyle, languagebarriers, social isolation, and limited access to transportation and health care resources. Children who are eligible for MEP services benefit from support services such as tutoring, educational assistance, advocacy, and awareness about important health-care and health-related issues, educational and career opportunities, etc. Through academic intervention, social and educational support, as well as interstate coordination, state migrant education programs strive to minimize the negative effects associated with the challenges of a highly mobile lifestyle. The overarching goal of migrant education programs across the country is to ensure that migratory children receive the proper academic and educational support that is necessary to prepare them for high school graduation, college entrance and success, positive career goals, and active, productive, and successful life-long participation in society.
MEP Identification and Recruitment-
A crucial and vital component to the Migrant Education Program is the area of Identification and Recruitment (ID&R). Identification of eligible migratory children involves locating where eligible migrant children are. Recruitment of migratory children pertains to the gathering of the necessary information to determine whether or not a child is eligible to receive migrant education program services. Eligibility requirements and criteria for the migrant education program are very specific. It requires a great deal of competency and a thorough knowledge of laws, regulation, and guidance on the part of a MEP recruiter in order to consistently make accurate and proper eligibility determinations. Due to the highly mobile lifestyle of migratory agricultural workers and their children, eligible migrant children are often marginalized and difficult to find. But locating potentially eligible migratory children is the essence of the Migrant Education Program. For, those migratory children who are the most difficult to find are often the children who are most in need of MEP services and programs.
There are many components to a highly effective state ID&R system:
Effective ID&R strategies
Regular and thorough training and professional development in ID&R
Comprehensive state ID&R plan
Effective time management and coordination of ID&R activities
Sound quality control procedures
Training in cultural competency
Clearly documented ID&R policies and guidelines
Updated farm lists and utilization of mapping techniques
COE review process
Effective data usage techniques
Effective data collections and reporting processes
What is a Consortium Incentive Grant?
Under Section 1308(d) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (as amended under Every Student Succeeds Act, December, 2015), the Secretary of Education may award grants to state education agencies as an incentive to enter into collaboration agreements with other states. Such grants provide incentive for states to collaborate with other states and pool their resources together. This process of collaboration promotes interstate coordination and helps reduce administrative costs for states so they have more funding to use for direct services to migrant children and families.
What is IRRC?
IRRC (Identification and Recruitment Rapid Response Consortium) is one of four OME-funded Consortium Incentive Grants. The mission of IRRC is to develop resources, strategies, best practices, and creative solutions whose purpose is to improve and enhance ID&R activities in IRRC member states. IRRC is a collaborative effort between the states of- ME, NY, DE, SC, GA, TN, IL, OK, NM, AZ, CO, KS, IA, with NE acting as the lead state of this collaboration.
The proper identification and recruitment (ID&R) of migrant children and youth is the foundation on which all other services and migrant education programs (MEPs) are delivered. This first step in the process of delivering high quality services to meet the educational needs of migratory children is highly critical. There has been an overarching need for improvements in the MEP community in terms of how states conduct ID&R and in the level of quality and consistency in which ID&R activities occur.
IRRC Goal Areas…
IRRC strives to improve and enhance the way ID&R activities are engaged in through the following three key goal areas:
1) Design and develop systems, materials, strategies, and resources for the consistent and reliable ID&R of eligible migrant children and youth that are adaptable to small and large states, summer and regular year programs, and diverse state and local contexts;
2) Expand states’ capacity through the sharing of resources, mentoring, and the deployment of Rapid Response Teams of highly effective and experienced ID&R specialists; and
3) Disseminate effective evidence-based ID&R practices throughout the MEP community.
Interstate coordination is a vital component in the mission of migrant education programs across the country to deliver effective and highly impactful services to migratory children and families. Interstate coordination is also a crucial element in implementing and maintaining highly effective ID&R systems and practices in state migrant education programs.
High turnover rates among recruiters, coordinators, and administrators, abruptly changing demographics among our migrant student populations, and limits in terms of funding, staffing, and resources at the state, regional, and local levels makes it crucial for state migrant education programs to network, coordinate, and collaborate to the highest degree possible to ensure that programs, services, and crucial ID&R activities and processes function as effectively as possible with little or no interruption. IRRC serves as a framework through which crucial forms of interstate coordination, networking, and collaboration can take place. The IRRC network of states offers a forum through which immensely valuable forms of exchange, dialogue, and collaboration can occur. Through periodic meetings, national presentations, workgroup activities, webinars, phone conferences, training and professional development opportunities, and a wide range of networking activities, IRRC member states have access to a wealth of resources, tools, expertise, and experience that are available even in the face of challenges or limitations that may be present at the local, regional, or even state levels.
How is IRRC structured?
IRRC is comprised of two important groups; the IRRC Leadership Team and the IRRC Technical Support Team. In tandem, the ILT and TST drive and support all of the projects, activities, and initiatives of IRRC.
IRRC Leadership Team- The ILT is comprised of IRRC state directors or their designees. The ILT convenes twice annually. The main function of the ILT is to oversee, monitor, and approve the major activities and initiatives of IRRC. First and foremost, the ILT members approve and sign off on budgetary decisions and expenditures. Beyond this, IRRC state directors monitor and make decisions about how funds are being used and how the TST members and workgroups are directing their energies and resources. Ultimately it is the sphere of the ILT members to ensure that IRRC expenditures, activities, and initiatives are consistent with IRRC project goals and objectives (as outlined in the original IRRC CIG proposal submitted to and approved by the Office of Migrant Education).
IRRC Technical Support Team-The IRRC TST is comprised of subject matter experts who represent each of our IRRC member states. TST members are content area experts with extensive experience and expertise in every facet involved with effective and impactful ID&R practices and processes. Their experience and expertise embraces every aspect of ID&R systems and processes such as: best practices, effective recruitment strategies, key materials development, training and professional development, interstate coordination, data collection, reporting, and usage, etc.… IRRC TST members convene as a group 2 or 3 times a year to brainstorm, plan, develop, and implement those tools, resources, strategies, and processes that will facilitate the improvement and enhancement of ID&R activities in IRRC member states and across the Migrant Education Program community.
The IRRC TST is broken into 5 workgroup areas. All projects, activities, and initiatives pursued by the IRRC TST are placed within the area of responsibility of one of the 5 IRRC TST workgroups. The five IRRC TST workgroups are:
- State ID&R plan workgroup
- Competency Skills Assessment workgroup
- TRI (Targeted Response to ID&R) workgroup
- Agribusiness Partnerships workgroup
- Dissemination workgroup
State ID&R Plan Workgroup- A sound practice of an effective ID&R system at the state level involves the development of a comprehensive state ID&R plan that clearly documents and outlines each component of the ID&R system in that state. Such a plan outlines strategies, practices, policies, and procedures in the areas of: ID&R strategies, training and professional development, quality control, data collection and reporting, interstate coordination, the re-interview process, useful materials and resources, safety, data security, etc.… IRRC member states work in collaboration to develop state ID&R plans that clearly outline state ID&R systems and processes. Such collaboration not only strengthens the state plan development process in each state, but also increases the level of consistency between our 14 IRRC member states. Such interstate coordination and consistency improves and strengthens the timeliness, accuracy, and effectiveness in which migrant children and families are identified and recruited at the national level. The IRRC state ID&R plan workgroup focuses on strategies, practices, tools, and technical assistance opportunities that support member states in their efforts to develop a thorough and comprehensive state ID&R plan that is fully compliant with laws, regulations, and forms of guidance that pertain to ID&R systems, practices, and activities.
Competency Skills Assessment Workgroup The most crucial component to any state ID&R system is outstanding training and professional development. Simply put, two questions every state director or state ID&R coordinator must consider are: 1) What do our MEP recruiters need to know? and, 2) How do we ensure that they know it? Consideration of these two basic questions has been a primary focus of members of the IRRC competency skills assessment workgroup. Using this process as a base, during IRRC project year 1 the competency skills assessment workgroup developed a competency skills assessment that was implemented by member states in order to facilitate improved training and professional development processes. The main purpose of the competency skills assessment process has been three-fold:
- To improve recruiter knowledge and proficiency
- To identify areas for improvement in recruiter proficiency
- To provide support tools, resources, and strategies to improve recruiter knowledge and proficiency
The IRRC competency skills assessment covers three main areas of recruiter proficiency: eligibility determination, COE completion, and case scenarios. During year 1 over 200 recruiters were certified through implementation of the competency skills assessment.
Targeted Response to ID&R (TRI)- The TRI workgroup has designed and developed the process through which teams of experienced, highly effective recruiters from IRRC member states are deployed to IRRC “receiving states” who have requested assistance in the areas of: recruitment assistance, quality control, the re-interview process, and training and professional development. Due to high turnover among recruiters, abruptly shifting demographics or mobility patterns among migratory children and workers, and severe limits in terms of resources, funding, and staffing, state ID&R systems can find themselves in need of assistance that can be provided in a timely, surgical, and concentrated way. Through the establishment of the TRI teams, IRRC receiving states in need can benefit from the expertise of highly effective recruiters who are well-trained and well-versed in the areas of effective recruitment strategies, proper COE completion, MEP laws, regulations, and guidance, sound quality control measures, data security procedures, mapping techniques, technology usage to enhance recruitment activities, etc.… Through effective pre-planning and extensive collaboration and coordination, receiving states are able to receive such technical assistance in a timely and impactful way and with minimal financial burden.
Agribusiness Partnerships Workgroup-The Agribusiness Partnership Workgroup seeks to establish long-standing relationships with agribusiness entities through a formalized process. Such relationships will help to increase access to migratory agricultural workers and thereby improve and enhance our ability to locate, identify, recruit, and ultimate help this highly marginalized population. Such relationships will be established through written agreements to ensure that these avenues of collaboration transcend changing conditions, circumstances, personnel, and management.
Dissemination- The Dissemination Workgroup is responsible for developing and maintaining the IRRC website, creation and distribution of the IRRC newsletter, completion of the IRRC Literature Review, and overall dissemination of best practices and highly effective ID&R strategies and techniques to IRRC member states, partner agencies, and external entities. The dissemination workgroup will focus on methods to share and distribute the most promising ID&R practices, strategies, resources, and materials with both IRRC member states and the larger MEP community so that ID&R systems, processes, and outcomes can be enhanced and improved.