About the Nebraska Migrant Education Program
An Overview of
the Nebraska Migrant Education Program
Summary of Statutory Responsibilities
The Migrant Education Program (MEP) is authorized by Part C of Title I of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001. The NCLB Act reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Act (ESEA) of 1965. The general purpose of the MEP is to ensure that migrant children and youth fully benefit from the same free public education provided to other children. To achieve this, the MEP supports educational programs for migrant children to help reduce the educational disruptions and other problems that result from repeated moves.
The Federal Government’s Office of Migrant Education provides formula grants to State Education Agencies (SEAs) to establish or improve education programs for migrant children and youth. The funds ensure that migratory children not only are provided with appropriate education services (including supportive services) that address their special needs but also that such children receive full and appropriate opportunities to meet the same challenging state academic content and student academic achievement standards that all children are expected to meet. Federal funds are allocated by formula to the State of Nebraska, a SEA, based on each state’s per pupil expenditure for education and counts of eligible migratory children, age 3 through 21, residing within the state. Unlike other NCLB programs, Title I Part C, is a state operated program.
Children who qualify for the program are identified and recruited by Local Operating Agencies (LOAs), or “projects” throughout the state and the local projects are responsible for providing services to children enrolled in the program. Finding and enrolling eligible migrant children and youth is a cornerstone of the MEP. The State of Nebraska is responsible for the proper and timely Identification and Recruitment (ID&R) of all eligible migrant children and youth within the state. However, ID&R is often difficult because migrant agricultural workers are highly mobile as they pursue temporary or seasonal qualifying agricultural work. Ultimately, it is the state’s responsibility to implement procedures to ensure that migrant children and youth are both identified and determined to be eligible for the MEP. Another important function of the state is to conduct the Comprehensive Needs Assessment (CNA) and develop and implement a comprehensive state plan for service delivery. The primary purpose of the CNA is to guide the overall design of the MEP on a statewide basis and the service delivery plan describes the strategies the SEA will pursue on a statewide basis to help migrant children and youth reach the performance targets the state has identified for them. Again, it is the state’s responsibility to conduct the CNA and develop the service delivery plan.
The comprehensive Service Delivery Plan (SDP) identifies and defines the educational or educationally related activities that are provided to migrant children and youth to enable them to succeed in school. The Service Delivery Plan is implemented in the state of Nebraska in four ways: 1) through a centralized State Education Agency (SEA); 2) through regionally-based service centers; 3) through local school districts; or 4) through non-profit agencies. In providing services, the state must give priority to migrant children and youth who are failing or are most at risk of failing and whose education has been interrupted during the regular school year. According to the Non-Regulatory Guidance (2010), SEAs use MEP funds to provide the following types of educational services:
- Instructional Services (e.g., educational activities for preschool-age children and instruction in elementary and secondary schools, such as tutoring before and after school); and
- Support Services (e.g., educationally related activities, such as advocacy for migrant children, health, nutrition; and social services for migrant families, necessary educational supplies and transportation).
In addition, SEA’s are obligated to use MEP funds to provide the following types of system wide activities:
- Identification and Recruitment (ID&R)
- Comprehensive Needs Assessment (CNA)
- Comprehensive Service Delivery Plan (SDP)
- Interstate and Intrastate Coordination
- Student Records Transfer
- Parental Involvement
- Professional Development
- Program Monitoring and Evaluation
The State of Nebraska funds the Local Operating Agencies (L0As) throughout the state and it is the state’s responsibility to ensure that all LOAs deliver the array of services identified in the comprehensive Service Delivery Plan (SDP). It is within the state’s discretion, not the LEA’s, to fund a project that proposes to address other identified special educational needs of migrant children and youth. According to the Non-Regulatory Guidance (October 2010), both SEAs and LOAs must comply with the following two fiscal requirements regarding the expenditure of state and local MEP funds to ensure that those funds are use to provide services that are supplemental to the regular services migrant children and youth receive: 1) MEP funds must be used to supplement, not supplant local, state, and other federal funds; and 2) services provided to migratory children and youth with local, state, and other federal funds must be at least comparable to services provided non-migratory children. The state, not the LOA, is the ultimate arbiter of decisions concerning the appropriate expenditure of MEP funds to carry out the statewide service delivery plan.
Migrant students have many risk factors in common with other disadvantaged students (e.g., poverty, poor health, learning disabilities), but they also face additional challenges unique to their situations (e.g., disruption of education, poor record-keeping between schools, cultural and language difficulties, and social isolation).
According to sections 1115(b)(1)(A) (incorporated into the MEP program by virtue of sections 1304(c)(2)) and 1309(2) of the statute and section 200.81(d) and 200.103(a) of the regulations, a child is a migratory child and eligible for the MEP services if all of the following conditions are met:
- The child is not older than 21 years of age; and
- The child is entitled to a free public education (through grade 12) under State law or is below the age of compulsory school attendance; and
- The child is a migrant agricultural worker or a migrant fisher or the child has a parent, spouse, or guardian who is a migrant agricultural worker or a migrant fisher; and
- The child moved within the preceding 36 months in order to seek or obtain work, or to accompany or join the migratory agricultural worker or migratory fisher identified in 3, above, who moved within the preceding 36 months in order to seek or obtain qualifying work; and
- With regard to the move identified in 4, above, the child:
Has moved from one school district to another; or
In a State that is comprised of a single school district, has moved from one administrative area to another within such district; or
Resides in a school district of more than 15,000 square miles and migrates a distance of 20 miles or more to a temporary residence to engage in a fishing activity. (This provision currently applies only to Alaska.)
State Migrant Education Programs (MEPs) are required to:
- Ensure that the special educational needs of migrant children are identified and addressed;
- Provide migrant students with the opportunity to meet the same challenging state academic content standards that all children are expected to meet;
- Promote interstate and intrastate coordination of services for migrant children, including providing for educational continuity through the timely transfer of pertinent school records; and
- Encourage family literacy services for migrant students and their families.
To the extent feasible, all migrant education programs and projects also are required to provide for advocacy and outreach for migratory children and their families on such topics as education, health, nutrition, and social services. They must also provide professional development programs for teachers and other program personnel, family literacy programs, the integration of information technology into MEP activities, and programs to facilitate the transition of secondary school students to post-secondary education or employment.
For additional information about the Nebraska Migrant Education Program contact the Nebraska Migrant Education Program office.