Last week, the National Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Association (NMSHSA) held its 8th annual Public Policy Forum in Washington, DC on June 6. ECMHSP staff and parents from the Policy Council advocated for the needs of the farmworker families served by our centers along the East Coast throughout the forum and on Capitol Hill.
On June 4, prior to the forum, parents from Migrant and Seasonal Head Start programs from across the country received training on how to participate in Capitol Hill visits with their congressional representatives. They also participated in a workshop on how to share with policy leaders their personal experiences and the issues that matter to their communities. During the afternoon, the parents received training on the DACA program from Farmworker Justice, at which they learned about deferred action, eligibility for the program, how to find immigration resources in their community, and how to avoid fraudulent immigration practices.
The NMSHSA Public Policy Forum was a historic event. For the first time, NMSHSA collaborated with the National Indian Head Start Association to bring together both communities to discuss the state of affairs in their communities and the policies needed to address their needs. Parents from the Migrant and Seasonal Head Start programs were able to learn from and share ideas with parents from the American Indian and Alaskan Native Head Start program through panel discussion and hallway conversations.
The highlight of the forum took place on June 7, when staff and parents from both Head Start programs visited the Congressional delegations on Capitol Hill to educate them on the importance of Head Start services for our communities. In total, ECMHSP completed 14 visits to Congressional offices, including a meeting with Congressman Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania’s Third Congressional District. During the visit, Leonor Saldaña, ECMHSP Policy Council member from Erie, Pennsylvania, shared her personal story with Representative Kelly and explained how her family has benefitted
from the Head Start services provided by the Benedictine Sisters of Erie, an ECMHSP delegate agency. Representative Kelly, as well as Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey accepted invitations to visit our centers in their districts this summer.
The NMSHSA Public Policy Forum concluded with a Hill reception that evening, at which parents and staff from the Head Start programs had an opportunity to interact with staff from the Congressional offices.
ECMSHP staff and parents are proud to have led in the advocacy efforts for our Migrant and Seasonal Head Start program in the nation’s capital. We will continue to voice the needs and the contributions of our farmworker communities from Lake Okeechobee,
Florida, to Lake Erie, Pennsylvania. To learn more about our programs, please visit our website.