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RISD offers assistance to migrant students

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The Roswell Independent School District’s participation in the Migrant Education Program (MEP) provides an opportunity for assistance for migrant students and families.

The MEP is offered to assist migrant students with challenges they may face, such as social isolation or cultural or language barriers as they move with their parents and guardians in search of agricultural, dairy, or other food processing work. RISD’s flier on the program also specifies working with fish and onion, chile, corn or pecan harvesting. Jennifer Cole, RISD’s director of federal programming, said the district has a range of 17 to 28 participants, depending on the year.

According to the MEP website, 15,784 3- to 5-year-olds; 59,170 K-3 students; 29,700 fourth- and fifth-grade students; 41,371 middle-schoolers; 54,626 high school students; and 12,288 out-of-school youth have participated in the program nationwide as of 2016.

“Underserved populations deserve equitable access to educational programs,” Cole said in a written statement. “We have opportunities for tutoring, extended-day learning, access to early childhood programs. Our goal is to maintain consistency and ensure all our student populations, including our underserved populations, have access to quality educational services.

“We have services available and all children deserve access to a high-quality education. We are here to serve!”

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Cole said the program has been around for over 20 years and that the southeast New Mexico region includes Clovis, Portales, Roswell, Dexter, Hagerman, Artesia, Carlsbad and the smaller surrounding areas of these towns.

The program makes efforts to support students’ success in school, and eventually as they move up to higher education or enter the workforce. The MEP is a federal program funded by Title I and is available to RISD students. Cole said about $30,000 is allocated from Title I funding.

The program offers a summer academy and other educational support activities. Enrolled participants can have access to tutoring from K-12, school supply distributions, and information about food and clothing banks and other community resources. Information about accessing healthcare services is also available. Free lunches and transportation services may be offered if the family is in need.

Cole said parents and guardians working in agriculture and handling food products, including meat packing and fishing industries, is acceptable for potential consideration. She added that another requirement is for the family to have moved between districts to maintain employment.

For higher education students, the program can also assist with scholarship information. Information on GED and English as a Second Language programs can also be obtained.

Migrant students are identified by checking the migratory family box on RISD’s enrollment form and are given another survey to determine if they qualify. If the family has moved in the last three years and the parent has been employed in an agricultural or food processing related job in that time, the students (under the age of 21) may be eligible, and the recruiter will look into each particular case. Families and students who may qualify can call 575-218-8613 for Thalia Cole or the RISD Office at 575-627-2581.

According to Jennifer Cole, students can participate as long as they qualify as migrants and all the children from one family can participate if the family qualifies.

As for the timing of the program, Jennifer Cole said it is comparable to the school year, from August to May, with K-3 Plus summer programs. Jennifer Cole recommends that interested families call 575-627-3331 for more information.

The flier also reads, “Our migrant children — they are our only hope. Like seedlings, they have been sown in your schools. It is our wish they blossom into harvests of hope.”

City/RISD reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at reporter04@rdrnews.com.