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How one government program provides educational resources to migrant children on the Central Coast

The program serves an estimated 1,600 students between San Luis Obispo County and Santa Barbara County — and officials want you to know how they can help.
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Posted at 11:54 PM, Oct 13, 2023

As Hispanic Heritage Month is slowly coming to an end, the Migrant Education Program on the Central Coast wants to remind families that services are available for their children to grow academically.

According to officials, the Migrant Education Program was established by the United States Department of Education in 1966.

Officials say the program was designed to provide supplemental educational and support services to eligible migrant children and their families.

The Region 18 Migrant Education Program serves an estimated 1,600 students between San Luis Obispo County and Santa Barbara County.

The program provides services such as academic assistance, after-school programs, health services, college field trips, and educational camps.

Sandra Casillas is a migrant worker who currently has her children enrolled in the program and says she is grateful for the opportunities they have been given.

“They have gotten the chance to experience the camps, visit college campuses, and they have had opportunities they probably would have been unable to get from me,” said Casillas. “Not everyone has the chance to participate in the programs they offer and they learn so much from participating in them.

Casillas says the program has opened up new pathways for her children to expand on their education.

“I am glad to know that there are people who care about us and are willing to provide opportunities for our kids that can help them navigate the customs here in the United States compared to our home country,” said Casillas.

Josy Aguilar, the Migrant Education Program’s recruitment manager participated in the program as a child after her family migrated to the United States from the state of Michoacan.

She has benefitted from the program and is now helping other families on the Central Coast accomplish their educational dreams.

“It’s always so exciting because I get to see myself in these children, get to guide them through the process of the education system here in the Central Coast or in the U.S.," said Aguilar. "It’s definitely a full circle and just so rewarding."

Aguilar says the program's main goal is to help and support clients overcome the multiple barriers they face for being migrant families.

Certain qualifications are required for those who wish to apply to the program.

“The most important thing to remember: to qualify for the migrant program there has to be a parent or guardian who works in agriculture: fishing or dairy,” said Aguilar. “The family has to have moved to Region 18 in the last 36 months, and there has to be a child under the age of 21 and who has not graduated from high school yet.”

If you or someone you know in the community is interested in applying for the Migrant Education Program, click here, to access their referral form.