Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Uniquely Supports Children’s Transitions

Publication Date:

January 17, 2023

The more than 300 Migrant and Seasonal Head Start (MSHS) centers in the United States serve children in families whose primary caregivers engage in agricultural labor. MSHS differentiates these families into two groups based on the frequency with which families may move for agricultural work: Migrant families are those who have changed their geographic location within the past two years, and seasonal families are those who have not changed their residence in the past two years. MSHS centers are specifically equipped to meet the needs of young children who will likely experience more transitions in and out of early learning settings than children in families who are not on agricultural schedules.

However, not all children in MSHS centers have the same transition needs, so center leaders must often identify ways to support a variety of unique needs. These supports are especially important during the critical transition from MSHS programs to kindergarten. Migrant children, for example, may move to new residences multiple times during a year. To ensure consistent access to high-quality care, they may need specific supports as they move from one setting to another. Seasonal children, on the other hand, may stay in the same place for a couple of years, but their caregivers may require supports that work around their schedules.